With its dark slate roof, city-centre position and picturesque harbour views, Lydmar Hotel is a quintessential Stockholm stay. Behind its grand white stone façade, this urban boutique bolthole has laid on a smörgåsbord of cosseting comforts: expect luxe rooms in chic muted tones, a classic brasserie beloved by locals and a terrace with live music to while away those endless summer days.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm; both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £229.98 (SEK2,716), including tax at 12 per cent.
Rates include a buffet breakfast of pastries, cinnamon buns, salmon and cold cuts, cereal and hot dishes such as bacon and eggs.
It’s worth lingering in the lobby, which is used as an exhibition space for up-and-coming designers, photographers and artists (we love Amanda Ooms’ rich, intricate charcoal drawings). The owner can often be seen hanging the next batch of eye-catching art, which is rotated around all the floors for two years before making its way back to the artist.
At the hotel
Lounge, terrace, exhibition space, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV with international channels; minibar; free bottled water; Nespresso coffee machine with free capsules; bespoke bath products by The Perfumer's Story by Azzi.
Our favourite rooms
Many of Lydmar’s rooms have views over the waterfront, but Classic King 412 and Medium King 413 are the best placed for harbour-gazing. With its original parquet floor, marble fireplace and sumptuous furnishings, the X Large room had us at hallå. Decorated in elegant taupes and plush fabrics, all rooms are cosy and welcoming, with intriguing artwork, sleek bathrooms and a minibar well stocked with local treats.
Guests have free access to the impressively equipped gym at the Grand Hotel next door. Entry to the Nordic Spa is extra, but well worth it: the sleek and stylish space has a sauna and swimming pool, and offers deeply relaxing massages, chiropractic treatments and tailor-made facials.
Take a spare fold-away suitcase in your luggage: it’s hard to resist the lure of Stockholm’s designer shops.
Two of the Medium King rooms and three of the Classic King rooms are accessible to disabled guests.
Grab a seat by the window to watch the graceful ballet of boats in the harbour.
The dining room’s member’s club vibe means anything goes, but, come the evening, don’t be bashful of parading your new Biblioteksgatan finds.
With its groaning bookshelves and collection of found objets d’art and travel mementos, the restaurant has the feel of an erudite uncle’s living room, albeit one with clean-lined dining tables, comfy leather armchairs and well thought-out mood lighting. Chef Jakob Levéns' menu focuses on classic brasserie fare – steak and tuna tartare, roast lamb, white pudding – with a cheeky late-night menu to encourage guests to linger. The Sunday comfort menu is an idler’s delight of reuben sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and French toast; grab a book from the shelves and settle in for a few bellini-fuelled hours. Guest chefs occasionally take over the kitchen; look out for pop-up events and one-off gastronomic residencies.
The waterfront Patio and upstairs bar really come into their own in the summer, when DJs and live bands take over the terrace above the restaurant. Garden chairs, high stools and drinks stations are set up around a fountain – a popular local spot for fruity punch, sherry martinis and rum-laced ginger beer.
The main menu is served until 11pm, but snacks and light meals can be ordered from the late-night menu until 12.30am; hotel guests can settle down for the night with post-prandial drinks until 3am.
A full menu is available during restaurant hours, after which hot sandwiches can be ordered around the clock.
Across the bridge from the old town, Lydmar is a waterfront hotel right in the centre of Stockholm, a short walk away from the city’s best sights and shops.
Flights from the UK and other international destinations touch down at Arlanda airport, a 35-minute drive away.
Stockholm Central Station, a five-minute drive from the hotel, has trains bound for destinations throughout the country. Subway lines 10 and 11 stop at Kungsträdgården station, a three-minute walk away.
Walking and public transport is by far the best way to take in Stockholm’s sights, but if you’re bringing your own wheels, valet parking at the hotel costs SEK595 a night.
Worth getting out of bed for
Stockholm’s upmarket financial district Norrmalm lures trendsetting Swedes with sophisticated bars and restaurants. The Lydmar is enviably central, just across the river from Gamla Stan (the city's old town), a 10-minute walk from museum-scattered Djurgården and Skeppsholmen islands. Pick up covetable furnishings in design shop Nordiska Galeriet on Nybrogatan, and wardrobe staples in GallerianandNK malls, both on Hamngatan. Stroll along cobbled streets and alleyways in the old town, and keep your camera to hand for Storkyrkan and Riddarholm churches, and the Renaissance-revival-style 18th-century Royal Palace – where Sweden’s monarchy reside to this day – then pop in to tour its lavish state rooms. There are seasonal exhibitions at the Nobel Museum, where the best and brightest in science and art flock for the awards and banquet on 10 November each year. The Vasa Museum on Djurgården has the world’s only fully intact 17th-century warship; close by ABBA The Museum is a little less highbrow, but toe-tappingly fun. The Museum of Modern Art on Skeppsholmen have an impressive role call of artists to ogle in their permanent collection and exhibitions by up-and-coming Swedish artists.
Set by the Royal Swedish Opera House, Operakällaren’s dining room is dressed in 18th-century finery – chandeliers, gilded oak panels and a jade-hued marble fireplace. The à la carte is equally debonair. A 15-minute walk from the hotel, Stockholm institution Sturehof serves classic Swedish fare, including meatballs and herring. The menu has dishes to suit all tastes and budgets; we love the small and sweet desserts and the dining room’s quirky touches – tutu-covered lamps and decorative windows. 19th-century restaurant The Prince has embraced new Nordic cuisine, but classics such as herring with beetroot and veal with lingonberries remain. Decor is warm and old-school, with carved panels and stained glass windows alongside modern artworks.
Cool and colourful Östermalm Café Foam has trays of rainbow-coloured smoothies, fat muffins and artsy patisserie. It has a very fine brunch menu and a weekly-changing lunch menu that experiments with different cusines.
Don’t mistake Corner Club for one of the strip establishments nearby – this is a welcoming, nudity-free (well, officially) bar with old classics and new concoctions on the cocktail menu, shaken up by possibly Stockholm’s friendliest bartenders.
It’s like the Swedes invented cool. That achingly-yet-effortless blend of it. If this wasn’t already clear as we cruised round Stockholm’s glistening waterfront then it certainly became so as we walked through the Lydmar’s grand white-stone façade and into this Scandi see-and-be-seen sanctuary.
A handsome crowd filled the bustling lobby, schmoozing, lunching and lounging on the plush inviting sofas. Bold photographs of beautiful men adorned the walls and the affable receptionist explained the hotel’s revolving exhibition series: for our visit it was an homage to men’s fashion. Without wishing to pay the posterboys too much notice and upset Mr Smith before we got as far as our room, I refocussed my attention on the bookshelves and hand-picked artwork. There are books everywhere you look; among the hefty design and travel tomes there was a kitsch vintage Butlins holiday annual as well as an exhaustive guide to sausage-making – the Lydmar caters for all.
Up the grand sweeping staircase and up to our spacious room and all well-intentioned thoughts of exploring Stockholm’s every corner disappeared as we feasted our eyes on the white-linen-covered bed. Through the expansive windows there was an unparalleled view of the city, from the cobbled streets below us to the stucco walls of the terracotta houses across the water.
Steeling ourselves to resist the siren call of the bed and the bathtub, we wrapped up warm and bravely booked onto a winter ferry ride leaving from Strömkajen port – right on our doorstep. Embracing the –5 degrees temperatures, we headed straight for the top deck and cosied up together on a reindeer skin; thanks to blankets adding to our initial five layers, we were soon snug.
Sweden’s snow-covered landscape is even more striking from the water, and our trusty tour guide Ulrika was brimming with impressive facts about submarines, Vikings and – of course – Abba. The Stockholm archipelago is made up of some 30,000 islands; Ulrika waxed lyrical about how spectacular they are to sail around in summer. In fact, it seemed as though Ulrika’s number-one Stockholm tip was to visit in summer. We held our blankets a little closer and our hot chocolates a little tighter, and our minds drifted to that most popular of Swedish pastimes… no, not that one.
The Lydmar Hotel doesn’t have a spa of its own but it does have the next best thing; access to the Nordic Spa in the neighbouring Grand Hotel. And what could be more Swedish than an afternoon in a sauna in Stockholm? The spa is a dramatic labyrinth of pools and relaxation rooms lit by a dim firelight. I finally managed to find Mr Smith among the bubbles; a Jacuzzi, steam and green tea or two later and we were wholly defrosted.
Aiming to match the natives in the style stakes, I slipped on a black number I’d found earlier in Cos (one slice of Sweden I can afford to take home with me) and joined Mr Smith at the bar. There was no Scandi minimalism in the restaurant-bar area at the Lydmar – it felt more like a friend’s welcoming living room than anything else. The Swedes have a specific word – mysig (pronounced me-sig) – to describe this cosiness. So appealing was this atmosphere, and so numbing was the temperature outside, that we opted to keep our cockles warm and not stray for dinner.
Having feasted on traditional Swedish fare while out exploring this city, a menu that didn’t threaten to wheel out any pickled herrings or meatballs was welcome. Our first-rate steak tartare and grilled tuna devoured, and as tables were cleared, the lights went down, the volume cranked up and a crowd of chic locals descended for the night as though it was their own. Our marshmallow-soft bed beckoned.
Come daybreak and the view from our room came into its own as the sun rose over the Baltic Sea showcasing the Old Town and Royal Palace in a new and romantic glow. Tough decisions settled (stone bath versus rain shower), and one L’Occitane soak later we were set for another day’s exploring. Downstairs the Lydmar’s brunch crew were already up and at it; Cara Delevingne’s doppelgänger was spinning Sunday tunes as her dog doze quietly under the decks. We took advantage of the breakfast spread and tucked into pancakes, poached eggs, fresh fruit and pastries, all washed down with a top-notch Bloody Mary.
To banish Saturday night’s cobwebs for good, we took a stroll around snow-covered Djurgården island, a city park also home to countless monuments and museums. An amble down a winding path brought us out unexpectedly at the rather wonderful Rosendals Trägård. This charming hidden garden sits beside old greenhouses selling locally made homewares, fresh organic produce and insanely good cakes. This might be the most populous city in the Nordic region, but we got a true taste of rural Swedish life without stepping out of it.
Stockholm, with its elegant buildings, open spaces and expanses of water, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and the Lydmar sits in its heart. This may be a dream base for urban adventures – Bibliotekstan’s designer shops, the National Museum and the Old Town are just a skip away – but Lydmar Hotel also has a scene of its own: in warm weather, when Stockholm gleefully makes the most of those blissfully long summer days, its pretty second-floor terrace and live music make it a lively evening hang-out. We better follow Ulrika’s advice… and head back in the summer.