The grandeur and luxury of Berns Hotel dates back to 1863, when this Stockholm fixture was first a restaurant, then the city’s most beloved nightlife palace. A combination of Italian and Scandinavian design lends a warm, comfortable atmosphere in both the rooms and public spaces. Between the mammoth main bar, terrace and other watering holes, the Berns offers many places to sip schnapps in style.
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A plate of home-made chocolate truffles and 20 per cent off food at Berns Asiatiska
Noon, but flexible. The earliest check-in time is 3pm.
Double rooms from $142.77 (SEK1,356), excluding tax at 12 per cent.
Rates exclude buffet breakfast (SEK195 each).
The on-site gym has a spinning bike, cross trainer and running machine, as well as some free weights, open from 7am to 11pm every day.
At the hotel
Gym, free WiFi, fresh fruit, library, laundry, late-night bar, Berns club and a concert venue (Stora Salongen). In every room, there's a flatscreen TV, and minibar; ensuite bathrooms have Malin & Goetz toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The Clock Suite is the biggest, with views over the park. Room 608 is spacious and light, with a terrace garden. Junior suites feature designer interiors. Room 431 served as a dressing room for Ella Fitzgerald and Marlene Dietrich.
Deck shoes, eye-mask in summer (only three hours of darkness), contemporary-furniture wish list, duty-free booze and smokes.
Berns, the hotel's nightclub, features music from both resident and visiting DJs. Stora Salongen, the concert hall, has been showcasing Swedish and international acts since 1863; recent visitors include M83, Hurts and White Lies.
Welcome, but when the bars and club get busy, it’s not the best family environment. Cots and extra beds for children are available free of charge.
The baroque gilded restaurant, Berns Asiatiska, is huge. To the right is the cocktail bar; to the left, the sushi bar. The restaurant serves sophisticated Asian-inspired food, starting with breakfast at 7am (7.30am on weekends). Asian brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday. The second restaurant, Calle P, is in the park just across from the main hotel. Chefs Axel Ohlson & Frans Andersson work from an open kitchen, producing simple but delectable Nordic bistro dishes that are designed for sharing. The food is accompanied by an excellent list of fine wines and seductive cocktails, which become the drinks of choice once the DJ starts spinning in the late hours.
There are a number of bars, a VIP area, and a terrace that gets packed in summer. The lounge bar has huge chandeliers, mirrored walls, balconies and a stage, and is popular with the media and fashion crowd.
Berns Asiatiska is open until 11pm; the bar serves until 1am (3am on Friday and Saturday). Calle P is open Monday to Friday; lunch is from 11.30am to 2pm, dinner from 5pm to 10pm. Calle P's cocktail bar serves until 1am (2am on Friday and Saturday).
The restaurant's full menu is available 24 hours a day. Light bites are available in Berns Asiatiska from 11pm to 6am.
Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, 35 minutes away by car, is the nearest airport (www.arlanda.se).
The city’s central station is located a kilometre from the hotel – the journey will take around three minutes by car and 15 minutes on foot. From here, trains go to other destinations within Sweden, as well as to other European countries (www.sj.se).
The main roads leading to the hotel are the E4 and the E18. Car hire and taxis are available from the airport.
Worth getting out of bed for
Go for a sauna and massage, or hire a private Turkish bath at the Sturebadet. Head to the beach (yes, really): sandy Flatenbadet is better suited to brisk dips than topping up tans, but it's a popular spot when there's even just a wink of sun. In winter, go skiing in Flottsbro, or skating in Kungsträdgården Park. The Moderna Museet has a superb collection of Swedish and international art. More than 16, 000 paintings and sculptures are housed in the National Museum on Södra Blasieholmshamnen. The open-air museum Skansen on Djurgården recalls the Sweden of bygone days, with flora and fauna, farms, manor-houses and craftspeople at work. The Vasamuseet: the Vasa is the world’s only surviving 17th-century ship. Watch the changing of the guard (12.15pm on weekdays, or 1.15pm on Sundays) daily in the Outer Courtyard of the beautiful Royal Palace.
Biblioteksgatan, near Stureplan, has a concentration of upmarket shops. On Hornsgatan are irresistible interior design and art shops. Södermalm has many secondhand and antiques shops, as well as one-off boutiques and skater shops. For handicrafts and knick-knacks, visit Gamla Stan (the Old Town). Don’t leave without visiting Östermalmshallen Market on Humlegårdsgatan. In a characterful building next to the flower market, it’s a huge delicatessen selling every type of top-quality food you can think of, with bars and restaurants to stop off in.
Get a boat out to the archipelago of Vaxholm in summer and have a champagne picnic (ask the hotel to pack you one). Or sail to the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (two hours from the central port) and visit the pretty beaches and harbour at Sandhamn, on the island of Sandön.
CosyCafé Tranan on Karlbergsv, with its checked tablecloths, provides Swedish favourites. Conducive to romance by night, with its peerless views, Eriks on Stadsgården is a unique structure in the sky with two restaurants: Eriks Grillbar is bistro-style; Eriks Gondolen is more formal, serving French/Swedish dishes. Punk Royale is far from your average fine-dining establishment: rubber-duckies and Lego adorn the table and food sometimes comes with crude smiley faces squeezed onto it; but, its haute credentials are firmly in place and its grimy style shouldn't detract from the fine ingredients and overall deliciousness. Expect anything, from your waiters hand-feeding you, to dishes cooked at the table. Sturehof on Stureplan is a great seafood restaurant with lobster and oyster specialities; there are three floors of which Obaren on the top floor is probably the best. For a sophisticated New Nordic menu, matched by the dining room's style, try Lilla Ego, where there are exposed red-brick walls, white chairs and some artful plating.
Drop Coffee has a modest, minimal space, but lets its strong flavourful brew do the talking. If you’re craving afternoon tea, we suggest the Diplomat Tea House on Strandvägen, for scones with jam and marmalade and sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
Brasserie Godot on Grev Turegatan is a stylish restaurant and bar with excellent mojitos and a hip crowd. Tak is a beautiful space, where pared-back Japanese decor has been given a Midas touch; plus, it has sweeping views from its 14th-floor perch. An 18th-century prison may not seem that glamorous, but Häktet has zhuzhed the place up and put some masterful mixologists on guard duty.
We crossed the leafy square over which Berns hotel presides, and headed straight for the wrong entrance. There are two: a discreet doorway off to the right leads to reception; the exciting-looking glass structure built into the façade is where non-residents flock to drink and disport themselves in Stockholm’s beloved party palace (from dinner in the restaurant to dancing in übertrendy LE).
There’s no lobby as such, but the main bar is big enough to hold a double-decker bus; Berns’ public spaces are on a very grand scale. Hungry, we followed the advice of the beautiful people at reception and wandered up to the Sturehof, a classic brasserie situated on Stureplan, close to leafy Östermalm. There was exuberance in the air (perhaps as it was end-of-the-month payday), and we sat until 1am over five types of Baltic herring and a bottle of rosé, watching the locals go by, and promising each other to whoop it up ourselves the following night.
Boutiquey but big, with 65 rooms, Berns Hotel was originally built as a restaurant in 1863; it got reincarnated 14 years ago as a unique hotel and entertainment palace. Our room was cosy but not tiny, and we loved its style: wood panelling felt both modern and warm, and the groovy cylindrical TV console not only looked great, but also provided me with a screen for undertaking mysterious changes of attire while Mr Smith caught up with current affairs from the comfort of the bed. The modern bathroom was fine, but not as attractive as the room itself, which had the feel of a first-class cabin, without being painfully retro.
In the morning, we explored: the museum-like Red Room and Mirror Room (where we breakfasted sumptuously on, oh, the usual – gravadlax, scrambled eggs, reindeer meat), the ON-bar overlooking Berzelii Park, an upstairs bar that was to get seriously crowded later, an outdoor terrace (a summer institution), and the spectacular main restaurant, which can only be described as Conran goes to the Vienna opera. Mr Smith, jacket junkie, was on a mission to check out Swedish designer Filippa K, find a vintage emporium, and have a rifle through H&M. I was happy to go along with this, since it all had a pleasingly Scandinavian unisex appeal.
We decided to make for Södermalm, a quirkier quarter than the superbly heeled central zone. This took us across Gamla Stan, the mediaeval old town, whose pretty-as-a-picture streets and squares are the big tourist-tat-shop area. In concept boutique c/o Stockholm on Götgatan, we browsed Myla lingerie, vintage sunglasses, Missoni towels, Nuxe and REN products and Lara Bohinc jewellery. In a modern mall, Galleria Bruno, we found the best selection of It jeans we’ve ever seen. Fitted out in new slinky top and manly cropped jacket respectively, we doubled back on ourselves for lunch at Eriks Gondolen, a bridge-like structure high in the air, with the best views in town.
Feeling at home in Södermalm, we headed to Bondegatan, Nytorgsgatan and Skånegatan, where skaters, students and other species of youth hang out in pavement cafes, bars and parks. The scene was beginning to live up to one of my favourite Scandinavian templates: the film Together, where Seventies values and good skin meet thrift-shop chic. We had coffee in an airy, grungey canteen called String, murmured lovingly at some amazingly cheap leather easy chairs, and contented ourselves with some vintage Sanderson wallpaper from one of the secondhand shops on Bondegatan.
We’d forgotten to book for the hotel restaurant, but the front-desk angels saved the evening and got us a table at the last minute. The vast gilded dining hall at Berns Hotel is ornate, grand and lofty, and the staff (like those in every single shop and restaurant we visited) were sweetness itself. Mr Smith had one of the best steaks he’s ever eaten – and he’s had a few – and we drank a bottle of Crozes-Hermitage before heading into Norrmalm.
Hotellet is a packed see-and-be-seen bar, but we preferred the youthful Brasserie Godot, with its reggae soundtrack, great mojitos and bar mural. Bypassing the Footballers’ Wives end of the nightlife scene, we went back to the Berns and were amazed to see our dignified hotel transformed into a heaving continent of dancing, drinking bodies. We sipped schnapps on the terrace, explored the different bars, and escaped by lift back to our room at some point in the small hours, Berns still pulsating away beneath us.
On Sunday morning, we could have done with some salty sea air, but decided that boarding a boat when we had a flight booked late was too ripe for farce. Instead, we walked to Djurgården and spent the rest of our city break in a facsimile of pre-industrial rural Sweden. It’s great: an open-air museum, with reconstructed hovels and playfighting bears. Already sarcastic about my passion for a toy shop in Södermalm (‘Oh, look, a pony with a daisy in its mouth…’), Mr Smith wondered if I was reliving my childhood. Then he discovered the elk enclosure.
Before we left for the airport we found ourselves back at the Sturehof. There’s a café-society feel to the swankier parts of town, and it dawned on me that, as well as bringing out the Bond girl in me, Stockholm was close to fulfiling all the Wallpaper*-fuelled lifestyle fantasies I’d ever nurtured. We sat among the international crowd, all cashmere and ‘ciao’ and tried work out a way of becoming regulars.
Of all the Stockholm clichés we were prepared for – beautiful people, sexy design, social equality, fantastic herring – not all are 100 per cent true: you’ll see the occasional kink in a symmetrically beautiful face; there’s some glum Sixties architecture; and while Mr Smith says he wouldn’t object, apparently Swedish women have to do all the running, dating-wise. Micro-quibbles aside, Stockholm is clean, cultured and cool. And the herring rocks.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Berns Hotel’s Guestbook below.
The historical vibe and ambience; the stunning restaurant, Asiastika, that takes up almost the entire level of the lobby entrance (which as a result, is rather tiny); the perfectly compact yet fully furnished rooms in the 'standard single' category. Location, location, location!
For a hotel of this calibre, the staff were surprisingly either unavailable or short-handed. At both restaurants (Calle P and Asiastika) they were young and forgetful.
Stayed on 21 Sep 2019
The location, the style of the hotel and the bars. There are many great restaurants nearby, including Ekstedt, Babette and Oaxen Slip.
Stayed on 9 Mar 2018
Berns Hotel is in a central location so easy to walk to the Old Town and the chic shopping area. The hotel restaurant is fantastic, a tourist attraction in it's own right. Breakfast is delicious. Concierge very knowledgeable and helpful. The rooms were quiet and warm. A no fuss boutique hotel. Try the Berns Bistro just outside in the park. Lovely atmosphere, great service and delicious food.
Quirky decor – the superior rooms are all very similar. Our rooms were well decorated but didn't have any extras e.g tea/coffee making in the room. Although we had booked two double rooms, both beds were singles pushed together (inc single quilts). Check ahead if this is important for you.