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This hotel makes a great base for exploring the city is close to the Arlanda Express train to the airport. The Pros: Convenient location, recently redecorated rooms, perfect for a layover. The Cons: Corporate feel, some amenities like the restaurant and gym have limited hours.
This summer, I booked a round-trip ticket from Sweden to the US that would take me home at the end of one trip to Europe and back again for the start of another a month later. My flight from Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) left early in the morning, so I wanted to make sure I was already in the city the night before.
Though it is expensive as a destination in general, Stockholm is actually a pretty good place for an overnight layover. There are many moderately priced hotels that participate in points programs, as well as boutique options like the new At Six or luxurious grande dames like the Grand Hotel Stockholm. This time around, I was just looking for cheap and easy. I considered the Sheraton and the Hilton, both of which are fairly central, but rates at both were running $220–$250 the night I needed. Luckily, Stockholm is home to several properties that participate in the Club Carlson Rewards Program, including four Radisson Blu properties.
Though I considered staying in the one at the airport, I figured I wanted to spend the evening in town and check out a new restaurant or bar — the Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel was redecorated in 2015 and was the closest to the train station in town, so it seemed like my best option. I would be arriving in Stockholm before dinner and leaving very early the following morning, so convenient access to the Arlanda Express train was paramount. It also happened to be the Radisson Blu property with the lowest prices, which was an added bonus. The Club Carlson site gave me a rate of 1,195 SEK (~$146 at the time) including taxes for a Single room.
I had also been looking at Hotels.com to check what the rates were like at all the chains. It listed this hotel at $131 per night, so I clicked through, figuring I might as well save $15. But when I did so, taxes and fees were added, bringing the price up to $147 anyway, so it made more sense for me to just book directly through Club Carlson.
Award bookings were available for the night of my stay, but would have required 70,000 Club Carlson Rewards points since this is a Category 7 property. At a value of 0.2 cents per point, that did not seem worth it, so I just decided to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. That way, I would earn 20 Club Carlson Rewards points per dollar on the stay (and my food and beverage charges), plus earn 3x points — or in this case, 438 Ultimate Rewards points — for the travel purchase.
Check-in and Lobby
I took the Arlanda Express train into Stockholm’s Central Station at 9:45pm. From the train platform, it was a short walk to Vasagatan, where I turned right and found the hotel at the end of the block. Total transit time: two minutes. Considering I’d have to be up very early again the next morning to catch the train back for my flight, I patted myself on the back for choosing a hotel that was so convenient.
Here’s a look at the lobby and check-in area when you first enter the building.
When I first got there, the front desks were being swarmed by a large party of American tourists checking into a block of rooms. I think the hotel was busier than usual because this was just before the weekend of Stockholm Pride, so folks were arriving from all over the world.
While I waited, I snapped some pictures of the lobby, including these semi-private booths where people could lounge and have a drink.
Here’s a shot of the central atrium, with its dramatic chandelier.
When it was my turn, the desk agent apologized for the wait and proceeded to find my reservation, adding that he had upgraded me to a larger Standard room from the Single room I’d originally booked. I asked what the difference was and he said it was slightly larger and had a double bed instead of just a twin. I looked it up later — Single rooms are 14-17 square meters (~151-183 square feet) while Standard rooms are 21 square meters (~226 square feet). Standard rooms also generally cost 100 SEK (~$12) more per night.
He then mentioned that the hotel restaurant’s kitchen would be closing at 10:00pm, but that I could still have something to eat at the bar or walk around the area since there were a lot of restaurants and bars in the immediate vicinity. He also said the breakfast buffet would be served on the second floor from 6:30am–10:30am on weekdays and from 6:30am–11:00am on weekends. My room rate did not include breakfast and I would be departing before that, so I didn’t have the chance to enjoy it — when I checked out the following morning, the agent on duty pointed out a table in the lobby that had been set up with coffee and tea to go, as well as fruit and snack bars, which was a nice touch.
The elevators were back toward the front door, down a separate hallway to the left of reception. Unlike the lobby and my room, it did not look like they had been redone, nor had the hallways from what I could tell. The lighting was bright and the doors were all old.
I think the only new element to them might have been the metallic screens displaying the room numbers, and the electronic key card locks.
That said, the room itself was much more up-to-date. It wasn’t huge, but it was well laid out.
Just inside and to the left was the bathroom and mini-bar with a safe tucked underneath. There was a tiny closet — seriously, it was so narrow, I almost didn’t notice it — with hangers but nowhere else to unpack your clothes, though there was a portable luggage rack available to hold your suitcase.
The bed was actually two twins that had been made up separately, each with its own set of pillows and a duvet. The headboard was silver-painted wood, while the wall behind it was bleached wood with some white accents, all lit dramatically from above and beneath.
The wall opposite the bed held the flat screen TV, which looked to be about 40 inches.
The small work desk and chair were next to the TV, and along with the telephone and some information about the hotel, it held a rather stark right-angled lamp. Above the desk was a large, round mirror.
On either side of the bed was a simple glass and metal nightstand, each with its own electrical outlet and reading lamp. Toward the outer wall and window was a contemporary armchair in gray leather with a white side table and a conical lamp.
The view from my window wasn’t much to look at. In one direction was the thoroughfare of Vasagatan.
Directly below my room was an entrance to the train station. Though it was in a busy spot and I had to keep my curtains drawn, I will say that the room was well soundproofed and I was not bothered by any street noise at all.
Back inside, the mini-bar held a variety of snacks and drinks, all of which were pretty expensive — this was Sweden, after all.
The bathroom was simple, but spacious enough and very well lit.
It had a single sink and a walk-in shower.
The bath products were from the Balancing and Reviving lines by thisworks.
There were two specific design touches here that I found interesting. The first was a framed overhead panel with a seagull flying through blue sky.
The second was a rabbit-shaped chrome bottle opener mounted on the wall.
Neither was particularly functional, but both incorporated a sense of whimsy into an otherwise austere room. Though it was on the small side and overlooking a busy street, I liked the clean, sleek look of the room and its new décor.
Food and Beverage
I had one eye on the clock since it was already late and I knew I would have to get up around 5:00am for my flight, so I wanted something fast. Though I figured my best bet was the hotel bar, I had a look at the room service menu, which was divided into different cheekily named sections like “Yum” for appetizer. It also listed larger plates, like seafood salad on toast, tomato soup or meatballs with cream sauce, lingonberries and pickled cucumber.
The section for beverages was called “Slurp,” and the late-night menu was called “Night-Night.”
I thought it might take too long to order in, so I decided to head downstairs. As the desk agent had mentioned, the hotel’s main restaurant, Fisk, was winding down. It specializes in fresh seafood and fish, and looked like a nice place for a business dinner. I headed to the bar instead, where the kitchen was open until 11:00pm.
The menu there included dishes like cheeseburgers, cured salmon with creamy potatoes, bouillabaisse and Caesar salad. I went right for my Swedish comfort food of choice — the toast skagen with fresh prawns, mayonnaise and dill — and ordered a cocktail. The dish only took about 10 minutes to arrive, which was perfect. It was simple but delicious.
Before heading back up to my room, I decided to check out the Skybar on the hotel’s top floor, which is open from 5:00pm until 11:00pm–3:00am depending on the day. It was very lively the Wednesday evening I was there and the nighttime views were nice.
There was a menu of specialty cocktails up on the wall, which seemed to be mostly classic cocktails with a fruity twist, like a strawberry Negroni and a raspberry Collins.
The one other amenity I had a look at — or tried at least — was the fitness center, part of a chain called SATS that hotel guests can use. To get there, pass through a door near the elevators and go down a set of stairs that look like they belong in a correctional facility.
From there, unlock another door with your key card. Unfortunately, I could not check it out because the hours were only 9:00am–10:00pm on weekdays. However, it looks decent from photos I saw online of its pool area — it’s decorated to look tropical — and Jacuzzi.
As is the brand standard with Radisson Blu, Wi-Fi was free. It worked well — I just used it briefly to check in for my early morning flight and to read through a few emails before bed —and I would not be concerned about using it to get work done while staying here.
While the Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel certainly didn’t wow me, it turned out to be a really great option for my (very) short layover. Its convenient location right next to the train station and near the city center made it easy to hop off and back on the Arlanda Express to the airport. My room sported updated décor and was clean, bright and comfortable. Though it would have been nice if the restaurant was open later, eating at the bar and having the option to get a nightcap at Skybar were good backups. While I might choose a more interesting property in the city for a longer stay, this hotel ended up being perfect for my needs, and a relative bargain compared to other area hotels.
Have you ever stayed at the Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel in Stockholm? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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