I have just returned from the opening of the ten-floor, 558-room Clarion Sign, a grand new hotel in central Stockholm. Designed by Gert Wingårdh in the shape of a giant black and granite catamaran, with one razor-sharp prow, the hotel is an unmissable addition to the area around the central station, which is undergoing a major reconstruction.
The Sign is a very big hotel (the biggest in Stockholm and the third biggest in Scandanavia) , but it’s the quality of the rooms that impressed me most. Each floor is dedicated to a different Scandinavian designer. We stayed on the 10th floor in a room furnished with Arne Jacobson chairs, but there are other floors dedicated to Alvar Aalto, Bruno Mathsson, as well as some contemporary designers. It also features the only open-air swimming pool in central Stockholm that is open all winter. Situated on the eighth floor and heated to 35 degrees it made for a envigorating early morning swim, although you have to derobe and dive in fairly sharpish. For fainter hearts there is a delightful eighth-floor sun terrace fitted with Eero Aarnio’s bubble chairs. The hotel also a spendid spa, sauna and an extensive collection of black and white photography and some cheeky contemporary art.
The Sign also almost perfectly located for the Arlanda Express and it offers some fantastic views of central Stockholm. Unlike its sister hotel on the southern island of Södermalm, whose entrance ramp lobby has been likened to a branch of Ikea, the Clarion Sigm feels much more intimate, and although the hotel was full for the opening weekend, it only felt overcrowded and overwhelming during Sunday morning breakfast.
Stockholmers flocked there during the opening weekend, especially for a look at Aquavit, an elegantly decorated branch of New York’s famous Swedish restaurant (recently ranked as one of the top ten restaurants by New York Magazine), where we ate both lunch and dinner, finding the latter overpriced, but the lunchtime taster menu excellent value. They also fixed a pretty decent mojito, always a good indicator of quality.