Ask any Stockholm local about this palatial yet fun-loving address overlooking the Nybroviken waterfront and they’ll happily reminisce about an epic night at Berns’ blockbuster nightclub, or about the hotel’s famous weekend brunch – or, if they’re lucky, both.
We thought it telling that the entrance to Berns is a handsome yet discreet doorway somewhat hidden from the hustle and bustle of adjacent Berzelii Park: since opening in 1863, the landmark building has played host to all sorts of debauchery, flirtations and no small amount of global superstars. It’s the kind of hotel you might see an impeccably dressed but visibly hungover local sneak out of in the wee hours of Sunday morning, though take it from us – if you’re sneaking in, instead, chances are you have a decidedly more enjoyable day ahead.
For one, that’s because Berns really knows how to do an indulgent breakfast. We liked tossing down our antioxidant-rich blueberry shots in the bright Terrassen (ideal if you take your coffee with the papers), though others choose to stay right by the extensive buffet served in Berns’ mirror room, a mini-Versailles home to the hotel’s popular Asiatiska restaurant. Speaking of which, we thought the pan-Asian fusion cuisine served here was so delectable and authentic, we enquired with staff what the secret is: turns out Sweden’s first-ever Asian restaurant was set up in this very room all the way back in the 1940s. Now that’s quite the track record!
Squeeze past the reception area and Berns’ in-house boutique showcasing Scandic-cool brands and products (we’re still shattered we forgot to pick up a scented candle of the hotel’s ambrosial signature scent upon departure!) and you’ll notice a wide range of quirky-contemporary designs accents – one of the porters introduced us to the ‘Paris Hilton of the Antique’, a life-size Greek statue set behind a DJ booth near a pompous marble winding staircase, wonderfully representative of the hotel’s unique marriage between chic and cheek.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Stockholm’s leading upscale shopping mile, Bibliotekstan, is a stone’s throw from Berns. Nordic cool doesn’t come cheap, of course, but if you’ve got a few krona left after clearing out Acne Studios and J.Lindeberg (lucky you!), it pays to pop into Svensk Hemslöjd for traditional, Swedish handicrafts or the collector’s heaven of Antikt Gammalt & Nytt.
Our beautiful Suite 206, so spacious it’s also listed among Berns’ event venues, was equally rich in whimsical elements. Falling into our mid-century four-poster bed at night (and by that, make no mistake, we mean early morning), we flipped through art and design bibles ranging from Andy Warhol’s autobiography to Terence Conran’s life in pictures before drifting off into sweet slumber. A note for light sleepers; make sure the lovely team at Berns doesn’t put you up in a room above its raging Stora Salonger concert venue… Unless, of course, the idea of listening to Rihanna intone an encore of ‘Work’ live from below your bedroom floor gives you some sort of thrill – we hear the Dalai Lama didn’t mind during his stay.
There’s always the Clock Suite, spread across two floors, featuring a private sauna and a bed right behind the clock in the boutique hotel’s iconic facade. As the most opulent of Berns’ 82 individually designed lodgings, it certainly deserves a special mention; though we were more than contempt with our Suite 206 (after all, it was good enough for Donna Summer and her fellow Supremes, who shared it after a 1968 gig in the downstairs Salonger!). Rooms aside, a stay at the trendy Norrmalm address isn’t about laying low and relying on the hotel’s ‘bartender on call’ service, anyway. Why not run off last night’s dessert in the gym or unwind in the splendid library, instead? Or you might want to please your palate with a fancy cocktail at the exclusive Spegelbaren, which overlooks Asiatiska in all its set design-like grandeur.
However you decide to spend your stay, you’re almost certainly guaranteed a fabulous time and, if it’s what you’re after, your own little Stockholm scandal. We thought that was quite something to write home about. Conveniently, the hotel actually placed a few prepaid postcards on our bedside, should we wish to inform the papers. Little did they know…