Escape the summer heat where the autumn chill comes early and hospitality traditions share a distinctive local character — Scandinavia.
There’s nothing like summer in New York to make you wish either it wasn’t summer or you weren’t in New York. Right now we’re dreaming of a land where the summers are mild and the autumn chill comes early, and where there’s equal time for both cutting-edge modern design and warm, familiar coziness. Naturally, we’re talking about the Nordic countries, whose hospitality traditions share a distinctive local character. Here are ten of the best boutique hotels in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland.
Though nominally a “budget” hotel, at least compared to some of the others on this list, Bertrams Guldsmeden is proof that, in a city as famously livable as Copenhagen, luxury is a relative thing. This restored townhouse goes long on comfort and coziness, and gets the balance between urban thrill and townhouse chill just right.
Andersen Boutique Hotel
On the outside it’s all 19th-century stateliness, but inside, Andersen Boutique Hotel is devoted to the modern Danish design you traveled all this way to see. Every room is different, some are contemporary and others devoted to mid-century modernist masters, and the location places the hip district of Vesterbro right at your feet.
Nimb’s Moorish-inspired facade and silhouette set it apart from the Scandinavian norm, but this is also the hotel where your editor first learned about the Danish virtue of hygge — the traditional coziness that’s essential to comfortable living at extreme latitudes. At Nimb that includes not just lavish rooms but an extraordinary food and wine program as well — and the fact that the hotel opens onto Copenhagen’s charming Tivoli Gardens makes it one-of-a-kind.
We’ve raved about Ett Hem in these pages before, but we’d be remiss if we left them off this list. The name means “home,” and while it’s an aspiration for a lot of hotels, this is the rare one that achieves it. Actually, scratch that — we wish we loved our homes half as much as we love Ett Hem.
If anything will finally put to rest the notion that Scandinavian hotels are all modern minimalist cubes, this place will. Görvälns Slott is a riot of color and a fantasy of extravagant opulence — safe to say you’ll see a side of Sweden that you might not have known existed.
The best time to see Hotel J is while it’s still summer. The Stockholm island suburb of Nacka Strand gives you country calm within easy reach of the city, and the hotel itself, inspired by Newport, Rhode Island (of all places), is like a Polo catalog shoot come to life, impeccably styled, eminently relaxed, and with a pronounced Americana accent.
The west coast of Norway is one of the world’s most beautiful places, and Storfjord, a little less than an hour inland from Ålesund, is a little slice of remote fjordside paradise. The aesthetic is pure winter-lodge coziness, and it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s delight, no matter the season — whether kayaking or cross-country skiing, you’ll never finish exploring.
Finland is often unfairly branded as Sweden’s country cousin. But Klaus K proves that Helsinki’s hotel scene can do high-design sophistication with the best of them. It’s located in the city’s furniture district, and its stylish interiors put many of the neighboring showrooms to shame.
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina
Iceland’s national airline isn’t just a beneficiary of the local tourism boom, it’s actively driving it — thanks to the famous stopover deals for travelers en route to Europe and this, its new flagship Reykjavík hotel. It’s a part of an ongoing redevelopment of the city’s working waterfront, and by the looks of it, it’s an encouraging first step.
Icelandair Hotel Akureyri
While Akureyri might not be on the list of the world’s great urban marvels, it does have the distinction of being the capital of Iceland’s north — we recommend the Icelandair Hotel Akureyri as a midpoint way station on your Iceland Ring Road tour, an unforgettable week-long circuit of the island’s uncanny landscapes.