There have never been more luxury hotels for business travelers to choose from -- and there have never been more gimmicks, either, whether it's a giant golden log in the lobby or an Edie Sedgwick lookalike lounging theatrically in a glass tank behind the concierge. That might explain why, like Colin Firth and many before him, scads of professionals prefer the corporate comforts of a Trump -- however vomitous the taste.
What if you could split the difference? Swedish design dynamo Claesson Koivisto Rune has tried to do precisely that at the Nobis Hotel in Stockholm, a five-star confection fetched up in a pair of picturesque 19th-century buildings that marries the design cred of a boutique hotel to the easy familiarity of a Sheraton. "As a professional traveler, you want to find a hotel that you like to return to as close to a home away from home that you can get," partner Ola Rune says in press materials. "That's the kind of hotel this should be." In short, if you're fresh off a red eye and you've got a 4 a.m. wake-up call, it's the rare designy hotel that won't viciously assault your senses even more.
So Claesson Koivisto Rune played up the luxurious aspects of the old buildings, preserving original wood paneling and throwing up lots of gold, and velvet, and thick red carpets. Big turrets rise up over a capacious public lounge, like a castle courtyard turned inside out (see image above) -- what the hotel calls, loftily, "Stockholm's new living room."
All of this is set against muted, contemporary flourishes inspired by the cool low light of Stockholm in the winter. The lobby's got lots of plush gray sofas and low-wattage floor lamps, and the bedrooms incorporate something most boutique hotels wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole: beige. Subtle patterns (many taken from the designers' sketchbook) add sui generis texture to the walls and wardrobes. And, as best we can tell, there isn't a single golden log in sight.
[Images by Åke E:son Lindman]