December 5, 2010 in SWEDEN | Comments (6)

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Lobby - floating bubbles of light


We tested out the new Nobis hotel in Stockholm. How cool is it, or how hot, and how luxurious? Follow the quest…

First of December was the launch of the new ”cool luxury” hotel Nobis in Stockholm. In Norrmalmstorg, a square on the fringe of designer shopping and other upmarket hotspots.

We were there its second might of operation. The sense of new and now was still in the air. In fact it felt like party night though it was a Thursday, with all the invited guests and others trying out a new hotel and its watering spots for the first time.

So where do I start?

At the bottom line: is it cool? Is it luxury? Or do I start at the moment we found the solid wooden doors in the elegant façade and walked in out of the slush of Norrmalmstorg on 2 December 2010.

Following you in, of course, is the cold air, gusting into the entrance passage. But first thing that meets you is a perfect antidote to winter savagery. Gas heaters are burning in that passage and the staff there (doormen?) look happy with life and pleased you breezed in. The overnight bag gives them a good clue – you are not just a diner, you have come to stay the night.

Pointed pleasantly into the lobby, you note the elemental input (fire) is no longer necessary. Here the heating system is almost coping with the intrusions of cold air. in a stunning chic contemporary interior, the air is full of circular lamps of different sizes like gigantic bubbles, and people relax on smooth round and cubic soft things. Very pleasant feel. Modern and simple but cozy, not aridly minimalistic.

And the front desk actually exists in both architectural and human form, with quite a row of attendants.  What is more, enthusiasm reaches you – as expressions indicate wow we have guests, how nice. After taking my surname and checking the booking in the computer, he looks up and says my first name with correct pronunciation in pleasant “nice to meet you” kind of voice. That is one of the things about egalitarian Sweden – they don’t have to say Mrs or Miss, and they don’t feel they have to treat you obsequiously or show you your place down the rank.

On the other hand, no-one offers a woman with a broken arm help with her baggage, while my beautiful lithe daughter is offered every assistance. J

Then again on the plus side. No-one asks me for a passport, ID card or even credit card imprint, though I have not yet paid. Trust is the coolest thing of all. You do need your door card to use the lift though so they are not harum scarum.

The rooms (201 in all)?

Our r0om was cute. Really cute, with the soft sheets and puffy pillows and duvets you expect, and a tall headboard that is half organic and half shiny something. Large flat screen TV on, emitting little musical sounds. All sorts of lighting including skinny metal arms holding small lights and big bubble like shades resting on the floor. Ceilings are moulded and wonderfully high. Cupboard roomy enough (hairdryer, sewing kit, shower cap – all sorts of amenities). Bathroom cute – grey Carrera marble tiles all up and down, shower, attractive designer hand basin (splashes a bit when tap runs onto the fancy basin cover, but worth it for sense of style; and you can remove the designer element).

However, some things about this room become less nice as the night goes on. We shall talk about that later.

Now we go down to eat, and we discover the big plus and the thing that will make Nobis a hotspot for sure.

This is a genuine old building that has been revamped. Imaginative use has been made of the typical  inner courtyard. Such courtyards are sometimes a seasonal garden in typical Stockholm buildings, but more often paved and functional.

This courtyard has been converted most adorably to a lounge. Way up at awesome (religious temple) height there is now an adorned ceiling, from which is suspended a glorious lamp like a burst or jet-trail  of sparkling light. It glitters mystically high above, dwarfing the happy humans enfolded in the embrace of high back chairs. Glasses of drinks and animated voices suggest party rather than relax lounge.

This interleads with a bar, a square tunnel inside copper, where more party is on the go.

Well this is cool Stockholm, nothing other than the new party town. Even though everyone looks young to me, Aleah says: how nice, all ages. To her the 30 year olds are middle of life.

Now to eat. I tried to book a week beforehand (too late) and am merely waitlisted for their fine dining Caina restaurant. My suggestion that we might eat there sounds like science fiction to them as it has such a long waitlist still. So we head for the Italian bistro, conveniently opening off the entrance hall of the hotel. Again.  All staff friendly, though apologetic. Yes we fix and trix and take out all allergy inducing ingredients out of our panini. But do you want to sit? Try coming back 45 minutes later.

That worked. Warmly greeted on return, we were given a precious table in the small bistro. Pleasant relaxed atmosphere with the odd laptop keeping people company. And the panini was really good. Only little negative was that instead of aubergine it contained courgette. Why was this we enquired? She went off to find out. Oh so sorry, we ran out. But if you really want some I will go fetch aubergine from the main restaurant…

In no time, fried aubergine delivered as side dish. Where there is a will there is a way.

Price very reasonable (less than 70 sek per delicious egg, cheese and “aubergine” sandwich).  The water cost more than the food. Sparkling water.

Now for the room experience.

This is where things started to go wrong – not in will to help, but in way. The room was really hot – it read 25 degrees on the heating controls and demanded instant divestment of clothing. We turned it down to 20. Still felt hot and stuffy.  Now the TV was switched off and the sound of the air-conditioning let out a constant hiss or rumble, hard to ignore.

We rang reception. Quick answer and a person was quickly sent up to investigate. It was suggested that the aircon was trying to cool down the room and when 20 was achieved it would switch off. It would be quieter they suggested if we turned the room back to 25.

No impossible – not with this thick duvet. A duvet designed for an Arctic hut or something. Well they could bring us a thin duvet. Now too tired to wait it out, we turned down the kind offer and used our nice fluffy five star dressing gowns as blankets.

Hard to sleep. Even while trying to reach 20 it felt hot and stuffy. The stuffier it felt, the smaller the room seemed to get. To an overheated brain. the lovely  high roof seemed to get higher and higher while the side walls seemed to get closer, and the aircon carried on regardless. Fortunately the windows do open, which reduced claustrophobia, but the noise level in the street was at that time a bit too high to use that way out.

In the morning the air was cool but the aircon/climate control was equally noisy, obviously trying to sustain the 20 degrees that it had finally reached.

Breakfast was fine –  one wall of bakery items and toppings for sandwiches, a little fruit and mueslis, plus a few hot dishes like omelette, pancakes and sausages. Nice touch was a selection of apparently home made organic jams.

So now – the bottom line – is Nobis cool luxury?

In the more idiomatic sense, definitely cool and upmarket. Good looking people, both guests and staff, relaxed feel, sense of general enjoyment and animation. Friendly, flexible and willing service. Chic and imaginative design, creating fun feeling without being corny. It gives a sense of happening. Stockholm will come to you if you stay at Nobis. You won´t even need to step out into the slush. Yet when you venture out, you find yourself right on top of designer shopping, and a short walk from the major area of fashion stores. Maybe 5 or 10 minutes stroll from art galleries. For the summer, easy walk to the hop on-hop off boats for sightseeing the main attractions, and not far from the boats to the islands.

In the final analysis, however, one cannot call it real luxury until they get on top of their climate control system and make it physically cooler, quieter and more manageable by individual (fingertip) controls. Still, this was only day two. It may well be fixed in a day or two more.

Hope so. ”Because (dear Nobis) you’re worth it…”

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