In the heart of Sweden's capital city, Miss Clara is within a short walk of many of the city's highlights. Although it sits on the Sveavagen, considered the busiest street in the city, the area doesn't feel too hectic or overwhelming.
There are funky cafes, cool fashion stores and various other interesting shops along the strip and the hotel can be reached from Stockholm Central Station in 15 minutes walk (though if you have a lot of luggage a taxi may be a better option).
Originally built as a girls' school in 1910, the art nouveau building has been transformed into a boutique hotel featuring 92 rooms and suites by architect Gert Wingardhs. The hotel is named for Clara Stromberg, a popular headmistress of the school.
Much of the hotel's original character survives, including the stairs, the bannisters and the windows on the first four floors of the building. The restaurant on the ground floor features large, street-level windows offering a inviting atmosphere to non-guests seeking a meal, and a great place to people-watch as the citizens of Stockholm go about their business. Below ground there is a sauna and gym.
The high ceilings, parquet floors and sharp design elements help the room feel modern without betraying its history. According to to the hotel, the rooms have been designed to maximise natural light and this is clear in the size of the windows. In winter, the time of my stay, this is a good thing since daylight is gone by about 3.30pm. This does, however, lead to a few minor issues such as neighbours in the office building next door being able to see into our room.
This focus on natural light also applies to the bathroom, with large windows facing into the main room. Privacy curtains mean this is fine during the day when the light comes from outside, but at night when using the bathroom light it's easy to see in. You'd best be very comfortable with anyone you're sharing the room with.
Despite being on a busy street and having such large windows, very little noise can be heard, so sleeping is no problem even when Stockholm's peak-hour commuters are heading to work below you.
There's no desk, but an unusual seat back is attached to the end of the bed. With the stable table provided, this invites you to put your feet up while you work. It's an interesting touch but may not please some business travellers.
The aforementioned street-fronted restaurant gives the hotel a warm, lively atmosphere and the place appears to be popular with guests and locals alike (bookings recommended if you plan to eat here). The food is terrific – we opt for the antipasto entree which consists almost entirely of cured meats. For mains, it's a fish stew and the "slow cook of the month" – lamb that falls apart on our forks. The service is great and our waiter, upon being told I'm not drinking alcohol for the evening, offers to fix me an off-menu mocktail, a ginger-and-mint themed concoction that's delicious enough for me to order a second.
A 20-minute walk down the Sveavagen will lead you to the waterfront where you can cross the bridge into Stockholm's Old Town, a beautiful maze of narrow laneways and ancient buildings, filled with cafes, craft stores and fascinating history. Walking tours are available and typically leave from the small town square in front of the Nobel Museum (Stockholm is the home of the Nobel Prize). The Old Town is also the home of the Swedish Royal Palace, which, while not as impressive as some of Europe's grand palaces from the outside, is open to the public and can be explored at some length.
Although it is no longer a school, this boutique hotel still has class. Its central location and excellent restaurant make Miss Clara a cut above.
Miss Clara, Sveavagen 48, Stockholm. Rooms start from SEK1690 ($282)
Phone 1300 896 627 or see mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-hotels/miss-clara
The writer stayed as a guest of Mr and Mrs Smith.