The 201-room Nobis Hotel, which opened in 2010, is centrally located on Norrmalmstorg Square in downtown Stockholm. Its address has assumed an infamous role in history and culture: The term Stockholm syndrome, coined in 1973, is used to describe a psychological phenomenon that occurred within these walls.
The ground floor of the existing structure once housed the headquarters of a large bank where robbers took four people hostage for six days in 1973. The incident made world news and afterwards, Stockholm syndrome became common parlance to describe the way in which hostages bond with their captors.
Comprised of two beautiful stone buildings now linked together on the third floor, the hotel was originally built as luxury residences in the latter half of the 1800s. To provide some scale of their opulence, one of the apartments had 22 rooms, including servant quarters. While much of the interior of the buildings has been modernized and is largely unrecognizable from the past, some interesting architectural details remain to catch your eye at every turn.
Nobis is a member of Design Hotels, a “curated” collection of 225 destinations in 135 locations around the globe that has seven other properties in Sweden. Claesson Koivisto Rune designed the interiors of the hotel.
Norrmalmstorg Square was previously called Packing House Square because it was the place where local fisherman came to sell their fresh catch. Now it is lively focal point of the city with several large sculptures and an outdoor bistro that draws passersby from morning to night.
Most major tourist attractions are within walking distance of the hotel including the Old Town (Medieval Gamla Stan) with the Royal Castle, where a ceremony surrounding the changing of the guards has taken place daily for the past 400 years. The beautiful Opera House, a restaurant and entertainment complex, is also nearby as well as bars, cafes, parks, and nightlife.
A number of shopping boulevards radiate off the square. One of them, Biblioteksgarten, is a pedestrian-only street lined with trendy international designer shops like Burberry, Longchamps, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Karen Millen and Tommy Hilfiger. They are interspersed with shops from Swedish brands such as Hope, Acne, Design House and Rodebjer.
The enormous Nordiska Kompaniet (N-K) Department Store with its beautiful atrium and specialty foods department in the basement is located minutes away on the busy thoroughfare named Hmangatan.
Room 117, a Standard King room facing the street on one side of the building, was exceptionally clean and nicely appointed with minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired contemporary decor. We booked the room for a two-night stay prior to a cruise departing from Stockholm. Although we weren’t traveling with a great deal of luggage, our one gripe was lack of space.
After the bellman placed our two 27” suitcases on luggage stands, walking around the perimeter of the beds without bumping into one object or another was challenging. The small standing armoire (there in lieu of a closet) had only two small drawers so we couldn’t have unpacked had we tried. One pleasant find: The light in the safe tucked inside the armoire turned on automatically, making it easier see the contents within.
Two comfortable twin beds, placed side-by-side, matrimonial style, were covered with inviting white duvets and down pillows; evening turndown service was provided. The flat-screen TV, beautiful light fixtures, and ultra-high-speed and free wireless connection made us more tolerant of other failings.
The long, narrow bathroom with attractive gray marble walls was nicely lit. The stall shower had Hansgrohe fixtures and a hand-held bidet was hung next to the toilet. There were only a few towels available and they seemed rough and almost threadbare by luxury standards. More frustrating, however, was the absence of any useable counter space—to house toiletries and toothbrushes. The pop-up trashcan under the sink was a bit hard to reach. There was a welcome emphasis on environmentally sound products in the bathroom and throughout the hotel.
The staff was generally helpful, knowledgeable and fluent in English. The playful, lobby seemed to always be bustling with people—checking in and out, waiting for help, or sitting around; its relatively small size was attenuated by its high ceilings.
The hotel offers its own Bistro, open from 11AM to 3AM. Caina, the restaurant located in the hotel offers breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as 24-hour room service. The Gold Bar and Lounge are open for relaxing drinks every evening. Use of fitness facilities is included in the price of the room.
The Bottom Line
While the room wasn’t perfect, the location of the hotel was, and the hotel felt comfortable, welcoming, clean and secure for a good night’s rest before launching on long day tours of the city. While the rates were pricey, everything in Stockholm seems to be more expensive than in Paris or New York. After a while, this captivating hotel seemed to grow on us—perhaps part of the Stockholm syndrome.
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Read about the delightful duoMo Hotel in Rimini, Italy, another unique property under the Design Hotels umbrella.
[This article also appeared in The Huffington Post on August 31, 2012.]