Madonna, for example. Or Greta Garbo, who hosted theatre parties on the Grand's summer terrace. Charlie Chaplin entertained Ingmar Bergman in his suite. Newlyweds Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier visited the Grand soon after their first anniversary. Sarah Bernhardt arrived with her 22-person entourage. And every year since 1901 the Nobel Laureates have been in residence at the Grand Hotel.
Built by a Frenchman, Regis Cadier, a former chef to the Russian ambassador, the Grand Hotel opened in 1874 with the King of Sweden on hand to inspect the premises. For more than a century, the Grand Hotel has exemplified Cadier’s motto to "always treat the customer as if he were a king," which is one reason why the Grand is often considered the flagship hotel of Northern Europe.
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. With its double marble staircase amidst a royal blue and butter yellow color scheme, the Grand Hotel’s lobby is a feast for the eyes and a bastion of Old World charms. 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 nearly every television and movie channel, and there's also 24-hour room service.
Even with the addition of 21st-century amenities, the hotel retains its Belle Époque elegance at every turn. Take a stroll along the wide and quiet hallways and into the public areas. Inspired by the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, the "Hall of Mirrors," known as the Spegelsalen, was 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 hotelier Cadier in a 13-room apartment.
Currently, one of the more impressive accommodations at the Grand Hotel is the Princess Lilian Suite, an Art Deco aerie atop the hotel. Complete with library, screening room, sauna, grand piano, and a dining table that seats twelve, the sumptuous suite recalls the sets of Hollywood films such as "The Way We Were."
Raison d’être, the in-house Nordic-Roman spa at the Grand Hotel, is a birch-scented sanctum sanctorum created by the Leading Spas of the World spa group. An homage to the first Swedish bathing house (founded in 1269), the spa highlights Nordic bathing rituals, including sauna, steam, cold water bucket showers, 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 is complemented by a comely and efficient staff that stocks the spa with lingonberry smoothies and ginger teas.
The Grand Hotel's recent kitchen renovation included the world’s largest stove, weighing more than 4,000 pounds. This fact takes on more resonance when one confronts the bountiful 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 on the Veranda that Garbo entertained her theatre friends.
Breakfast on the Veranda is one of the most appealing experiences at the Grand Hotel. The sumptuous buffet encompasses an entire ancillary room off the Veranda and is 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 crêpes, pastries and tortes, cheeses and meats - and everything is 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 better understand 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 sentiment has been shared by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, 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, no matter how temporary.
Rooms at the Grand Hotel are decorated in a classic contemporary Swedish style that evokes Fifties Paris as well as the celebrated interiors of designer Dorothy Draper. Bathrooms are capacious, with walk-in rain shower and separate full-size bathtub. 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.
As for the staff that attends 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 shared such hallowed halls?
Cross this legendary threshold and make yourself a part of the Grand Hotel’s illustrious history.