Stylish newcomer: Clarion Hotel Stockholm
Sweden is known for its long summer nights,
stylishly functional furniture and tall blond citizens, among them
tennis champion Björn Borg and three members of ’70s pop sensation
The country’s two major cities are Stockholm,
the capital, and Gothenburg (Göteborg in Swedish).
The former comprises a beautiful group of islands dotting the
country’s eastern coast. The Gamla Stan (Old Town)
island houses the royal palace.
Gothenburg, on the western coast, has experienced a renaissance
in recent years and is every bit Stockholm’s rival with regard to
art and culture.
English is widely spoken throughout the country; the hotels and
service are excellent, and the cuisine recently has earned
international acclaim. (Try to book a table at the famed
Operakällaren restaurant inside Stockholm’s
Opera House, or bring the whole crowd for a
in one of the venue’s two stately halls.)
In January 2004, the Swedish chain First Hotels will open the
300-room First Hotel G, the company’s debut in
Gothenburg. The property will have meeting space for 70, plus a bar
and a bistro.
The capital city’s largest hotel, the 532-room Clarion
Hotel Stockholm, opened last May. The property has meeting
space for 1,000 people and dining space for 700, as well as a pool
and a health club; its bar is Stockholm’s latest hot spot.
Also on Södermalm, the 99-room Rival Hotel
opened in September in a building dating from 1937. A highlight is
a reconstructed cinema that doubles as a conference hall for up to
700 people; it is available to private groups during the week, yet
reserved for moviegoers on weekends. The hotel also features a
restaurant and six meeting rooms.
Plans for a convention center and a concert hall are being
discussed in Uppsala, a university town of 40,000
students 60 miles north of Stockholm. Several blueprints are being
considered, with a final decision to be made in February. City
officials want the center to be ready by the end of 2005. Groups
coming to Uppsala should be sure to dine at Uppsala
Castle, which was built in the 1540s.
Few visitors will soon forget an excursion to Swedish
Lapland, with its indigenous people (the Sami), its
reindeer and its famous IceHotel Jukkasjärvi. The
hotel, in addition to 100 guest rooms made of ice, has traditional
lodging for when the mercury plummets far too low for comfort. Also
ice-free is a conference center hosting 50 people.
Another ideal incentive idea is a four-day cruise along the
quietly beautiful Göta Kanal, a series of canals,
rivers and lakes linking Stockholm and Gothenburg. This is life in
the slow lane, with small yet comfortable vessels holding 28 or
fewer passengers. Every cabin in the fleet will be renovated this
winter. A highlight is a stop at the Birka Viking
City for a glimpse of how the ancient Swedes lived.
By far the most fitting theme for an awards dinner in Stockholm
takes the famed Nobel prize as inspiration, with the same venue,
menu, dinnerware and immaculate service as is provided to Nobel
prize winners. City Hall (Stadhuset) hosts up to
1,300 guests for the memorable gala.