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Birger Jarl, Stockholm 

8 Tulegatan
Tel: 46 8 674 1800
view web site ›'s insider take:

There's a minitrend in hotel land (check out the Fox in Copenhagen and Puerta América in Madrid), where different style arbiters are set loose on guest rooms to create either a showcase for a particular aesthetic or perhaps an inhabitable example of national pride—or, as in this case, both. Built in 1974 and named after the 13th-century founder of Stockholm, this 235-room place has been redesigned with bells on. Twenty-two Swedish designers have created wildly divergent spaces: One that's based on a group of late '30s Matisse interiors has tomato curtains, a black-and-white checkerboard floor, and walls decorated in leaf-green as well as black and white; another unit, in muted powdery green, blue, pink, and rust, with white sheers at the windows, is all about feng shui. The new additions are the wardrobe rooms, so called because they're windowless and decorated by fashion designers—they're wacky and less claustrophobic because of that, but there's nothing like a window to give you a view of a place. The hotel isn't all gimmick, though. The staff makes a concerted effort to keep you happy, and recent bathroom upgrades were a good idea. Less good is the attempt to charge for using the lobby WiFi.

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