Sunday, August 16, 2009

Review: Scandic Sergel Plaza Hotel, Stockholm Sweden

For our family trip to Sweden, we chose to stay at Scandic Sergel Plaza in the heart of Stockholm. I had researched Stockholm hotels on the web, looking for something family friendly, and knew I would choose a Scandic. Their Sergel Plaza location was recommended by Frommer's, and Frommer's has never steered me wrong, (except for that time in Monterey, CA many years ago...)

Since we had four in our party, two adults and two children, I booked a family room. This includes what they call a double bed, (which I thought was near the size of a queen bed in the States), a pull out sofa, chair, desk, satellite tv, two armoire type cabinets, a stocked (and wired for purchase) mini-bar, and a full bathroom. Breakfast was included, as well as a special gift for all children on arrival and a play area in the hotel specifically geared for younger children.

After we arrived at Arlanda Airport in Sweden, we took the Arlanda Express train to Stockholm's Central Station, (which I highly recommend.) Since we were half crazed from lack of sleep, (Brad and I can't sleep on planes), we opted for a taxi to the hotel. It was only a couple of blocks away from the station. The check in time was 2pm, and it was around 10:30am when we arrived, so we checked our luggage in their baggage room and went exploring.

First impressions: Great location! This Scandic is not only located in the heart of Stockholm, but it's also in the midst of the shopping district. Across the street is a Gallerian shopping mall with over 80 stores - enormous! H&M, Ahlens and NK are also nearby. Almost everything is within walking distance; a metro station (tunnelbana), Central Station, several ports, City Hall, tons of restaurants, parks, bus lines, the tram line and ferries.

The lobby is large and bright. Near the reception desk, there is coffee available, along with all sorts of snacks, sandwiches, salads and drinks for purchase. They also have what they call a "store", but really it's just small items to purchase on a few shelves. The items for sale are handy though; personal care items like toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo as well as toys for kids and souvenir items. The staff was friendly, efficient and spoke English very well.

Downstairs is the family breakfast area. I have to say, the star of the show was the breakfast they offered each day. What a selection! Here are a few things that were included: several kinds of yogurt, with dried fruit and nuts to add in, fresh fruit, several kinds of fresh bread and rolls, pastry, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, jams, jellies, applesauce and cottage cheese, green salad fixings, cookies and biscuits, and finally Swedish pancakes with cream and lingonberry jam. Yum! Drinks offered include coffee, many types of tea, milk, juices, chocolate milk and the ever-present sparkling water. We couldn't believe that they offered so much for the "included breakfast." And here's some video Brad took on our last day showing some of the offerings...

Our room was larger than we expected, and we found it clean and comfortable. This hotel has a lot of "green" initiatives, so we found no toiletries in the bathroom. (Actually this has been the case at most of the European hotels we've stayed at.) There was a hand soap dispenser on the wall near the sink and a "Shampoo/Shower Gel" dispenser on the wall of the shower/bath tub area. I expected this ahead of time and brought our own soap and shampoo/conditioner. One note: For those not used to European hotels, bring your own washcloths from home. They do not provide any. From what I understand, they consider it too personal an item to provide at hotels. I brought some cheap kitchen dish cloths from home. This worked out great because we each had our own color so always knew which was ours.

On arrival, a large platter was brought to our room. It had a mountain of fresh fruit, two bottles of Coke, two small boxes of chocolate truffles and two bags of Swedish candy. I can only assume this was the special gift given to children on arrival. It was a great surprise and we ate every last bit!

Our room was promptly and thoroughly cleaned each day, and the hotel staff was receptive to our request for more pillows and towels. The television had several channels (in Swedish and English) and had children's programming including the Disney channel (which was dubbed in Swedish - but our boys didn't seem to mind) and two Disney movie channels that ran a continuous loop of "Wall-E", "Bolt", and "Ratatouille" - all dubbed in Swedish. The boys were thrilled that they could see some of their favorite movies, didn't care it wasn't in English, and even picked up some Swedish words. :)

We stayed nine nights, in August, and our cost was 11,160 SEK or at today's exchange rate, $1,548.72, which costs out to $172.08 per night. (I booked early from Scandic's website and received the Early Saver rate.) Considering the location, amenities, and especially the free breakfast each day, I think we received a good deal.

Overall, I highly recommend this hotel, especially for families. For more information, please see their website.

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