Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hotel Skeppsholmen – modern Swedish style

I will admit it — I am a sucker for a beau­ti­ful, unique hotel expe­ri­ence. And so our Swedish adven­ture began at the Skepp­shol­men in Stock­holm. The web­site was inter­est­ing with intrigu­ing but incom­plete room pho­tos — enough to draw you in, with­out reveal­ing all. A ren­o­vated bar­racks build­ing dat­ing from 1699, with min­i­mal­ist mod­ern fur­nish­ings and pos­si­bly the coolest sink ever. I was hooked.

The hotel exem­pli­fies the adage: loca­tion, loca­tion, loca­tion. Set on a tiny island near Stockholm's cen­ter, it is adja­cent to, but removed from, the bus­tle of the city.

The mod­ern art museum is across the small road.

Room 166, extra large with sea view, did not dis­ap­point. But from my per­spec­tive — there are a few points where design was allowed to over­rule prac­ti­cal­ity. Given the tran­si­tory nature of the hotel expe­ri­ence, hotel design­ers have free­dom to incor­po­rate fun and fash­ion­able ele­ments that might not trans­late well into the every­day res­i­den­tial environment.

Room 166

First the pos­i­tives: a fab­u­lous bed, the Dux­i­ana, renowned around the world for com­fort. Absolute quiet — we never heard any sound from nearby rooms, and with win­dows closed, total peace. With win­dows open, quiet susurra­tions of city noises and seag­ulls from across the water. That bath­room — love the sink and faucets! I used that Vola lava­tory faucet in an Atlanta pow­der room ten years ago and still adore it.

The slightly less pos­i­tives — the long rec­tan­gu­lar bath­room is wrapped in choco­late brown tile, a bit cave-like, and like the rest of the room, woe­fully under­lit. Aside from the desk lamp, there is no task light­ing. Inter­est­ing lit­tle lamps are scat­tered around the room, but here too design trumped use­ful­ness. My iPhone flash­light pro­vided bet­ter read­ing light. Inter­est­ingly, the hotel prides itself on its mod­ern light­ing, and the pub­lic spaces really show­case excit­ing con­tem­po­rary fixtures.

The only true absur­dity — the translu­cent blue slid­ing panel bath­room door, inex­plic­a­bly located directly in front of the toi­let. Design delight — yes. But com­pletely use­less as pri­vacy bar­rier — be sure you are stay­ing with some­one close, because all your bath­room endeav­ors will be on view. The room fea­tures a seat­ing area along with a desk and chair. The Tac­chini Italia fur­ni­ture, in an olive-on-blue abstract map fab­ric, is per­fectly scaled for a 5 year old, but under-scaled for any­one taller. The mini loveseat opens out into a sin­gle bed, although bed­ding for this is a spe­cial request.

some of the fab light­ing in the pub­lic areas of the hotel

The Skepp­shol­men offers a few "green" touches I have not encoun­tered else­where. Bags to send out your laun­dry are brown paper rather than plas­tic. The toi­letries are some­what larger vol­ume and ours were only half full on arrival. It's hard to tell if leav­ing them for us to fin­ish before replac­ing is a con­scious green choice or an over­sight by house­keep­ing. The staff at the hotel are won­der­ful. We arrived just ahead of the Ice­landic vol­cano ash cloud which shut down flights across north­ern Europe. The hotel was able to secure train tick­ets for our con­tin­u­ing jour­ney. The restau­rant is small but bright and invit­ing, the menu selec­tions lim­ited but well pre­pared. An off-menu request was gra­ciously accom­mo­dated by the chef. The break­fast buf­fet is exten­sive and fresh, and lunch/ din­ner options are very nice and patio din­ing is lovely. Over­all, a remark­able hotel is an amaz­ing loca­tion offer­ing the blend of mod­ern and his­toric that I so adore. Worth the visit and the price.

Adden­dum: due to the vol­cano sit­u­a­tion, we unex­pect­edly returned to the Skepp­shol­men for two more nights.  This time we took room 270, also extra large with sea view, in the sec­ond build­ing. The bed­room here has a door to close off the liv­ing area, more like a suite. The bath­room is much smaller (no tub), and the water from the rain­fall show­er­head drenches the entire floor.  On the plus side, the translu­cent door is not directly in front of the toilet!

The sec­ond build­ing is even qui­eter than the first, although it requires a dash out­side to reach the main build­ing where recep­tion and din­ing are located. Both build­ings are equally charm­ing. Mind your head while on the third floor – preser­va­tion restric­tions pre­vented mov­ing any walls or mak­ing any changes to the ceilings.

Leave a comment

Comments are closed.