by Ron Bernthal
Stockholm’s newest hotel opened in February, 2008, and everything about this 558-room Choice Hotels Scandinavia property is impressive. I arrived from the airport via the Arlanda Express, a 125-mile per hour airport train that takes just 20 minutes to get to the citys Central Station, a five-minute walk from the hotels spacious, light-filled lobby. The Clarion Hotel Sign, a beautiful, 10-story, angular-shaped, blue-glass and black granite building, designed by Swedish architect Gert Windgårdh, has quickly become a Stockholm landmark.
The exciting visuals continue inside the property as well with sculpture, paintings, photographs, and furniture, in rooms and public areas, and entire floors have been devoted to design legends such as Alvar Aalto, Bruno Mathsson and Erik Jörgensen. All of four floors are dedicated to Arne Jacobsens internationally renowned works Egg, Swan and Seven. �Weve created a unique experience in a first-class hotel featuring the worlds best design and architecture. Our goal was to create a relaxed, timeless, open atmosphere that was naturally also enhanced by the Choice Groups phenomenal service,” said Tobias Ekman, Managing Director of Clarion Hotel Sign.
The hotels lobby restaurant is the Aquavit Grill & Raw Bar, a branch of the award-winning Aquavit New York. During my visit I ran into noted Swedish-chef Marcus Samuelsson of the New York Aquavit, who was in Stockholm consulting on the new facility, which is less formal, but equally as trendy and popular among local Swedes.
Guest rooms are outfitted in a simple Scandinavian style, and Mies van der Rohes famous statement, “less is more,” is truly appropriate here. The walls are soft white, a flat screen TV presses against one wall, a large black & white photo of a snow-covered Swedish lake fills the wall space above a large Swedish DUX bed. The desk is blonde wood, with a lovely wood slat-back chair, possibly Danish, that looks like it just arrived from an art museums furniture collection. The stylish sofa, and designer Arne Jacobsens Swan chair, are bright red, an attractive book on Nordic photography sits on the coffee table. The bathroom fixtures include a stunning round tempered glass sink, and an instant-on hot water shower head behind a frosted glass door.
Business guests like the conference rooms, the high speed WiFi throughout the hotel, the huge banquet hall, and the business centre. The propertys rooftop Selma CitySpa, with great views over downtown Stockholm, includes a fitness centre and several treatment rooms. On a cold, snow-flurry afternoon, under a darkening winter sky, I enjoyed swimming in the spas heated outdoor rooftop pool, clouds of steam hovering above the water, the lights of the city twinkling ten stories below. After a post-swim sauna, I was totally invigorated and ready to enjoy the evening ahead.
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