A Grand Life: Stockholm’s Grand Hotel
For many people who visit Stockholm, there’s only the Grand. Madonna, for example. Or Greta Garbo who holed up here, taking her meals in privacy. Charlie Chaplin hosted Ingmar Bergman in his suite. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier arrived with great fanfare. Sarah Bernhardt was welcomed, with her 22-person entourage. And every year, since 1901, the Nobel Laureates are in residence.
Long considered the flagship hotel of Northern Europe, the Grand Hotel opened in 1874 with the King of Sweden on hand to inspect the premises. Built by a Frenchman, Regis Cadier, a former chef to the Russian ambassador, the Grand Hotel has, for more than a century, exemplified Cadier’s motto to "always treat the customer as if he were a king."
From the moment of arrival at the massive baldachin entrance, doormen and porters are immediately present to insure a gracious introduction to the Grand Hotel’s many pleasures. A bastion of Old World charms and decorum, the Grand Hotel’s lobby, with its royal blue and butter yellow color scheme and its double marble staircase, is a feast for the eyes - and almost immediately, a guest is transported to an age where proper dress and protocol are inherently understood to be a sign of a society’s well-being.
Now celebrating more than 125 years of impeccable service and refined hospitality, the Grand Hotel has been recently renovated to meet the needs of today’s discerning clientele - wireless is available throughout the hotel, as is 24-hour room service, and nearly every television and movie channel - and yet the hotel retains its Belle Epoque elegance at every turn.
Wander down the wide and quiet hallways and into the public areas, and if you’re lucky, you’ll glimpse the Spegelsalen, the "Hall of Mirrors," inspired by the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, where the Nobel banquet was held every year from 1901 through 1929.
The Cadier Bar was named one of the world’s top four bars, according to Newsweek - and Mathias Dahlgren’s Michelin-starred and award-winning restaurants, Matsalen (Dining Room) and Matbaren (Food Bar) are located in what was once the Bolinder Palace, which was acquired by the Grand Hotel in 1889 to house Cadier in a 13-room apartment.
Currently, one of the more impressive accommodations is the Princess Lilian Suite, an Art Deco aerie atop the hotel, complete with library, sauna, grand piano, a dining table seating twelve - as well as a sumptuous 12-person screening room that evokes the setting of films such as "The Way We Were."
Raison d’Etre, the in-house Nordic-Roman spa, is a sanctum sanctorum created by the Leading Spas of the World spa group, which has worked with Four Seasons and Aman Resorts. As a homage to the first Swedish bathing house (founded in 1269), the scent of birch pervades the spa, which highlights Nordic bathing rituals, including sauna, cold water bucket showers, steam, and cold water plunge pools, as well as a luxuriously heated lap pool and whirlpool. The sense of well-being and calm is as therapeutic as the waters - and complemented by a comely and efficient staff that stocks the spa with lingonberry smoothies and ginger teas.
The recent kitchen renovation included the world’s largest stove, weighing in at more than 4,000 pounds, a fact that becomes more understandable when confronting the breakfast smorgasbord on the Grand Hotel’s historic Veranda. Originally, the hotel’s verandas were built annually as a rite of spring and a harbinger of summer - and it was here on the Veranda that Garbo (before she became a hotel hermit) would take her meals.
If you are so lucky to be in residence at the Grand Hotel, breakfast on the Veranda is one of the most appealing experiences the hotel offers. The sumptuous buffet encompasses an entire ancillary room off the Veranda and is the equivalent to entering the most well-stocked larder in all of Stockholm. Nearly everything your palate desires is available, including roasted vegetables and pickled beets, herring and gravlax, passion fruit and melon, brownies and crepes, pastries and tortes, cheeses and meats - and everything so beautifully prepared as to merit a photographic spread in a gourmet magazine.
To eat breakfast at the Veranda at an early hour, while gazing at the Royal Palace across the Norrström is to understand completely the hotel guest who remarked, "As far as I can see, the only difference between me and the King is that he lives on one side of the water - and I on the other."
Surely, this is a sentiment that has been well understood by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, the Emperor of Brazil, Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as Japanese dignitaries, European magnates, Russian aristocrats on the run from the Revolution, and just about every other luminary who has claimed the Grand Hotel as home, however temporary.
And to be housed in one of the Grand Hotel’s waterfront rooms, with a balcony overlooking the river, is to realize that you might have been ruined for any other style of life hereafter. Rooms at the Grand Hotel are decorated in a classic contemporary Swedish style that evokes Fifties Paris and the celebrated interiors of designer Dorothy Draper. Bathrooms are capacious, with walk-in rain shower and separate full-size bathtub. As for the staff who attend to these accommodations, they are as discreet and thorough as Santa’s elves, insuring that every detail for your comfort is considered - from in-house chocolates on the night table to slippers and turn-down service. Fresh bath linens appear magically and every surface is immaculate.
In short, a stay at the Grand Hotel Stockholm puts you in the company of Albert Einstein, Gary Cooper, and Marlene Dietrich - and when was the last time you walked such hallowed halls?
Cross this legendary threshold and make yourself a part of the Grand Hotel’s illustrious history.
LINK: Grand Hotel