The Perfect Weekend – Stockholm
Clara Strömberg was a visionary in her time, but she could hardly have guessed that one day a fine hotel would be named after her. This 19th-century pioneer of women’s education founded the Ateneum school for girls, and the premises it moved into in 1910 now bear the name Miss Clara Hotel. The seven-floor building stands on Sveavägen, one of the city’s main avenues. With its chunky, sculpted stonework at street level and subtly curved window frames set in a sandy-coloured façade, it’s typical of the solid Stockholm take on Art Nouveau. Pieces of bentwood furniture in the rooms hint at the exterior design, but inside it’s more about functional style: herringbone parquet, filament bulbs in the lounge set to a low, warm orange, and plum-coloured stone in the bathrooms, with underfloor heating – a nice touch in winter. The wide-ranging, high-quality breakfast buffet offers a chance to go local with the likes of cheese on crispbread, and also a test of that cardinal Swedish virtue, lagom (having just enough, not too much).
4. The Activity
The call of the outdoors is strong in Stockholm, in winter as well as summer. Watching many locals flit across frozen surfaces, you might think they were born with blades on their feet, but there are guided ice-skating excursions for newcomers too. Each group heads out from the city to where the ice is at its best and sturdiest that day, whether it’s a forest lake or the labyrinthine channels of the Stockholm Archipelago. Equipped with skates, helmet, poles and other essentials, skaters swap terra firma for its beautiful and surreal winter counterpart. The ice may be white with frozen bubbles, or glassy and clear. When a group of skaters pass at speed, there is often a strange, sonar-like echo from beneath. After a few hours in the cold air, most build up a sturdy appetite for lunch, seated on a rock by the icy shore.