In an ideal and central location from which to explore Stockholm, you will find the historic 1910 girls’ school ‘Ateneum’. Recently, the school has been faithfully converted into a boutique hotel by Sweden’s Nobis Group and aptly named ‘Miss Clara’ after its first headmistress, Clara Stromberg.
Originally designed by Swedish architects Hagström & Ekman, in its most recent guise the historic building was used as office space. The new owner, Italian-born Alessandro (Sandro) Catenacci, is also the owner of many of Stockholm’s best hotels and restaurants together with the famous Cafe Opera nightclub. Alessandro collaborated with award-winning architect Gert Wingårdh to create a warm atmosphere of modern and elegant functionality while staying true to the Art Nouveau history and timeless Scandinavian design.
Wingårdh engaged Sweden’s best craftspeople and manufacturers to restore Miss Clara to create the minimalist, art deco design, which is evident throughout the hotel. Although he is known for his sleek and eco-wise aesthetic, Wingårdh’s restoration celebrates the building’s original features, which include high ceilings, crystal light fittings and an original 1910 spiral staircase. There are superb arched windows, some of which are double height and overlook Sveavagen Boulevard.
Wingårdh has used sustainable materials, which help to create an overall feel of timeless elegance. There is an abundance of neutral, earthy hues, dark wood floorboards, parquet floors, and oak and leather furnishings.
The 92 stylish guest rooms are simple, well-designed, warm and atmospheric. While sparsely furnished, they are rich in texture.
Like the public spaces, the rooms are decked out in neutral hues and have bespoke oak furnishings that include pullout desks, luggage storage, a mini-bar and sitting area. The original high-arched windows invite you to daydream while overlooking the street and crowds below.
Of particular note are the two-storey Etage suites. If you’re fortunate enough to book one of these, you can look forward to suites that feature separate sitting rooms and enormous windows extending over two floors.
Bentwood bed headboards are by local manufacturer Gemla, as is most of the other furniture in the hotel. There are inspired ideas such as two chairs joined to form a bench in reception and a single chair back attached to the foot of the bed, which can be used for extra hanging – quirky and cool. Similarly, sculptured brass hooks mounted on wood panels offer attractive open storage, which enable you to see your coats, scarves and hats at a glance. A little extra thought that makes the rooms feel even warmer and more homely.
Crisp, white walls and bedding are offset by parquetry floors, which make even the smallest rooms appear larger. A herringbone-patterned wood floor continues up the walls to form a wainscot. The leatherwork is by Tarnsjo, using tree extracts instead of chemicals to dye the skins that will undoubtedly patina beautifully with age.
Swedish limestone bathrooms feature glass walls, adding to the rooms’ sense of lightness and airiness together with luxurious marble baths.
Located on Sveavagen Boulevard, in the cosmopolitan and central Norrmalm district, Miss Clara is in one of the most vibrant areas in Stockholm. There is convenient access to the central station where express trains arrive and depart for Arlanda airport, and Hotorget Metro station is a couple of minutes’ walk away. Also nearby are the Royal Palace, high-class restaurants and exclusive shopping. Across the road is the graceful, 18th-century Adolf Fredriks Church. It’s a pleasant 10-minute stroll to the main shopping area around Hamngatan, where the swish Nordiska Kompaniet (NK) is located, while the old town, Gamla Stan and museum island, Skeppsholmen, are about 20 minutes’ walk to the south.
There’s a large selection of restaurants to choose from within seven blocks of the hotel. Try Rakultur for sushi or the recently opened Shibumi, a Swedish take on an izakaya (Japanese pub). Further afield but easily reached by tram is Djurgarden. This oasis of green is home to the Vasa warship, which sank in the harbour in 1628 at the start of its maiden voyage and wasn’t salvaged until the 1960s. You can easily spend the day there, ending with a visit to Grona Lund, Sweden’s oldest amusement park. Also good for visiting, the city’s new Abba museum on the island of Djurgarden.
Miss Clara is stylish, hip and surprisingly, very affordable. All the staff members are friendly and helpful, while luggage is delivered to your room. Thoughtful touches like a supply of huge umbrellas by the door add to a pleasant and comfortable stay.