Being half-Swedish, I travel to Stockholm quite regularly; whenever possible I’ll seize the indulgent opportunity to stay at my favourite Swedish hotel, The Grand Hotel Stockholm. To my mind, there’s simply no better place to enjoy a clean, healthy, pure Nordic lifestyle experience with all the luxurious little flourishes you could dream of. From the exquisite spa, to the sumptuously made-up bedrooms, and the to-die-for variety of their iconic breakfast ‘Veranda’, it’s every bit world class, and each intentional detail totally supports me in my pursuit of a healthy escape. A long weekend here yields the equivalent sensation of more than a full week elsewhere, and you emerge fully recharged and refreshed, having seen some of the wonderful local culture too. Read MORE for my full healthy review of this Scandinavian gem!
Constructed amidst a cluster of islands, and often referred to as the Venice of the North, the Swedish capital city feels unique and electric; amongst the Archipelago, the Hotel itself presides majestically over one of the city’s most stunning bays, peering out at the Royal Palace and the beautiful Old Town from across the shimmering water. The views are exceptional and every season brings a new and completely different feel – perhaps you’ll experience an icy cold bay with snow-clad surroundings, or maybe the glorious fresh sunshine with tourists darting about on little boats. This post focuses mainly on the Hotel’s strongly differentiated Nordic Spa but makes reference to some of my other ‘highlights’ as well. (Note, I have not been paid to write this review, nor has my room stay been gifted to me; I write it because I love it!)
1) THE NORDIC SPA BY RAISON D’AITRE
Having grown up in Sweden I’ve endured countless frozen dark winters. It’s the type of ‘cold’ where the gusting wind mimics thousands of tiny needles prickling at your cheeks, and the inside of your nostrils form little ice cubes! It chills you to the bone. This country’s need for a hot bath and a restorative spa experience is, understandably, significant. Since it’s not unusual for homes to have their own mini sauna, when you do visit a ‘professional’ spa you expect a little bit extra. The Grand Hotel spa is without a doubt one of my all time favourites, and delivers ‘extra’ by the bucket. It’s one of the things I look forward to the most when visiting Stockholm.
Inside this Nordic haven, are a collection of wholesome facilities, drawing inspiration from Scandinavian nature and sustainability. There’s a vast steam room where you can comfortably lie on one of the sunken Raouk stones from Gotalnd (a small, beautiful Swedish island) whilst satisfying jets of hot air cascade over you from within the darkness of the ceiling! There’s a big but intimate pool (an unusual combination of ‘size’ characteristics), a hydrotherapy jacuzzi zone, a zen-like quiet room, and endless treatments to be had – including an occasional pleasure of mine, the classic Swedish massage. At this spa, you generally feel cocooned in the warmth, and shielded from the shattering cold outside.
But my absolute favourite experience, to which I return every time, is the the Nordic Bathing Ritual. Traditionally, Swedes would (and still do) carve a hole in the ice, sit in the sauna and then when they’re just about ready to melt, plunge into the icy cold water… Then back into the sauna, and repeat. The Grand have simulated this experience at the spa, but embellished it with various high-end rubs and scrubs to apply between frosty dips! Whilst the water is obviously freezing cold (and entering it requires proper courage), that coldness hits you like a wave of heat. It shocks the entire system but you feel so alive, energised, and invigorated. And bizarrely, when you step out of the water, a gorgeous sensation of warmth pulses through your body. It is unworldly and absolutely amazing. There are a host of medically proven ‘immune system’ benefits to this practise, but it’s the lasting sensation of contentment, as if my body is smiling, that I take away from it, for the rest of the day. A must! (below are some pictures from the stunning Spa Suites, which I’ve written about in section 4 below…)
In the morning you’re treated to possibly the finest buffet breakfast I’ve experienced (and I consider sampling hotel buffets a talent of mine! 😋🍴). In true Grand smorgasbord style, it is *tastefully* vast and there’s something for everyone. Homemade quinoa-puff muesli (no added sugar), an exotic collection of seeds, immaculately cut fresh fruit salad, gravad lax and eggs – all the usual healthy staples of course. But if you want to experience the traditional Swedish breakfast, you can try some hard (knäckebröd) bread with pickled herring; it’s divine, and certainly takes me back a few years to my childhood! But whatever tickles your tastebuds, it’s the view that completes this sumptuous experience; sunrise, experienced from the Veranda restaurant (which is itself a 60m long, glass-fronted venue), overlooking the majesty of the Palace, as the beautifully dressed people of Stockholm sashay past… It’s both rousing and relaxing at the same time. Pure bliss for me!
3) MAIN RESTAURANTS – MATTHIAS DAHLGREN
The Hotel hosts two restaurants by Sweden’s most celebrated multi-Michelin-starred chef, Mathias Dahlgren. Matbaren is my favourite of the two – more informal and relaxed, yet still special (i.e. one starred), and where you can sample such unusual Nordic dishes as reindeer sashimi if you’re feeling brave! Matsalen, (also in the building, and two Michelin starred) is quite a ‘gastronomic heavyweight’ destination (though perhaps a little too rich for my palate) with some of the most renowned flavour and service in the city.
4) THE SPA SUITES
Whilst on my trip, I managed to sneak in a visit to the Hotel’s gorgeous and luxurious Spa Suites. These are unparalleled by way of indulgence, and I cannot recall another top hotel which offers anything truly comparable. Each of these self-contained private spas (there are 2) houses a birchwood sauna, a steam room, an ‘experience’ shower, a generous jacuzzi and a well stocked massage area, both overlooking that stunning Stockholm bay. For a session of maximal, constitution-reviving bliss, these suites are just awesome.
5) THE GYM
The gym may seem fairly intimate relative to your huge ‘chain’ gym, but it’s big by hotel standards, and is incredibly well invested with the top-of-the-line Technogym Artis range. It hosts all the equipment you could need – kettle bells, dumbbells, bars, trx, resistance bands, rowing machines, treadmills, bicycles etc. There are some experienced personal trainers on hand waiting to lend a helping hand – they passed my random ‘unaccustomed gym-goer’ test with flying colours 😅! There’s even a gorgeous, waterfront-facing yoga studio, just next to their healthy juice bar which offers some delicious spirulina and kale fuelled recovery fluids!
6) THE WALKS
Every time I come back to this city, I love to reacquaint myself with a power walk along the waterfront. Here’s a lovely little route suggestion…
7) THE ROOMS
Exquisitely appointed and immaculately made-up to exacting levels of precision, they’re as relaxation-inducing as it gets for me. I’m yet to stay in two rooms which are alike, as the hotel seems to focus on the uniqueness of experience every time you return. Given that they didn’t have to do it this way, it’s an expensive touch for them, but one that you really enjoy as a guest time and again. Be sure to ask for one of the newly-renovated rooms facing the water if possible, and if you happen to luck out with a balcony too, then you’ve got a serious challenger venue for your breakfast!
FINALLY, 8) THE SERVICE
The front-of-house staff have been trained in traditional, top quality, personal service. The hotel’s Instagram account features time-lapse videos of hotel beds being made and rooms being prepared: they really are fastidious about making every detail ‘just so’, which is so enjoyable as a guest! I cannot recommend a trip enough Faya x
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