hotel reviews

Checking in to Stockholm's Coziest Hotel - Downtown Camper by Scandic

At the beginning of October, I celebrated my one year anniversary of moving to Sweden… and, about a week or so before that, I FINALLY got my Swedish personal number!

If you or anyone you know has ever relocated and registered to live in Sweden, you know it can be a real doozy… (and if ya don’t know, now ya know). When the long, complicated process of getting settled in and legitimized was finally done, we decided to do something special. To celebrate the momentous (long-awaited) occasion we took a long weekend trip up to Stockholm!

Given I’ve lived here for a year, I’m not sure how this was my first time going there… especially since round-trip train tickets from Malmo only cost us about US$70… but I CAN tell ya that it definitely won’t be the last! Stockholm did not disappoint… and neither did the hotel where we set up camp!

If you’re planning a trip to Sweden’s capital and aren’t sure where to stay, check out Downtown Camper by Scandic - Stockholm’s coziest hotel hideaway!

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Disclosure: I was a guest of Downtown Camper for one night (and paid a discounted media rate on a second)… but, as always, the following thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Great Outdoors… Indoors

Since I started travel writing a few years ago, I have stayed at my fair share of hotels. In that time, I haven’t seen it all… but I have seen a lot - the good, the bad, the dingy, the luxe, and the downright disgusting. I am by no means a “hotelier,” but all this checking in and checking out does make me at least somewhat of an expert on the subject of cool hotels… and I can say with 100% honesty that Downtown Camper has one of the most unique concepts I’ve ever seen in a hotel… hands down… especially for a hotel that is a part of such a huge regional chain.

Though it is one of many Scandic hotels in Stockholm, Downtown Camper has none of the cookie cutter decor or stuffy atmosphere that you’d expect from a typical corporate hotel property. It does, however, have a whole lot of personality… and so do the people who keep things running smoothly around here.

According to the folks over at Downtown Camper, this is a space where nature meets metropolis, where Stockholm locals meet visitors, and (according to me) where guests can expect to do a whole lot more than just catching some zzz’s.

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setting up camp

When you enter the bedroom, the first thing you’ll notice is the crackling fire greeting you on the TV. These cozy campfire vibes are complimented by the room’s neutral earthy tones and rustic decor… and contrasted by the modern Scandi-design of the white and black bathroom.

On our first night, we stayed in a Classic Double, and, after we returned from our cruise to Helsinki, we spent another night in a Spacious Double. Both rooms were super cozy and equipped with everything we needed, including a super cozy daybed by the window… aka the PERFECT spot to sip on a cup of morning coffee and map out our plans for the day.

The main difference between the Classic and Spacious Double rooms is as the name suggests - The size. The latter also had a bathtub and windows covering two of the room’s four walls. I don’t mind a small hotel room when travelling (as I rarely spend much time there anyway), but windows and natural light are a must for me… so I was very happy with our bright and airy upgrade to the Spacious Double.

If you prefer more of a cave like atmosphere, you can book a windowless “Sleep” room… (which I’d imagine would be a great option for business travellers or anyone suffering from jet-lag). Travelling as a family or with a large group? Downtown Camper also offers suites and co-living spaces that can accommodate up to a dozen people!

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around the site

To put it simply, the whole Downtown Camper property is pretty amazing. I’ve never stayed in a hotel that was so impressively designed AND had so much going on.

From the bustling lobby and meeting spaces to the restaurants, bars, and rooftop wellness area, there’s a lot going on at Downtown Camper. No attention to detail was spared when it came to decorating this cozy, urban oasis… and, unlike at other hotels, the cozy look isn’t just for show.

There are loads of creative common areas for people to meet, work, and lounge. My personal favorites were the Game Room (complete with shuffle board and swing seats), and The Net hanging over the lobby just past the reception desk.

Throughout the week, hotel guests can enjoy a sound therapy session and full body scans up in the net. After the session, the net stays open for a bit for those who want to just chill here. It’s a super cozy spot that I kinda wish had been open more consistently. I can totally see myself enjoying a book or getting some writing done up here!

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As you’d expect from a hotel in the middle of a major city, Downtown Camper can get pretty busy. Whether you’ve had a long day of work, exploring, or just need to escape the hustle and bustle of Stockholm (and the rest of the hotel), a trip upstairs to The Nest is a must.

Located on the top floor, the Nest is a wellness area exclusively for guests age 16 and up. Start your day with yoga on the rooftop terrace, relax in the nest shaped sauna, or take a dip in the heated infinity pool.

The whole space offers magical views of the city and was the perfect place to rest and recharge on our final evening in Stockholm. For obvious courtesy reasons, I didn’t take many pictures up here… but I did get this shot before putting away my cameras, grabbing a glass of champagne, and watching the sun go down over the city from the rooftop pool.

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food + drinks

There are a few different options for food and drinks around the hotel, but the most popular is the Camper Grill and Bar. Breakfast is served super early here (which is both a blessing and a curse). This will make you get an early start on your day, though you’ll probably have trouble tearing yourself away from these super comfy beds. I can promise you that the spread waiting for you at the breakfast buffet is totally worth waking up early for.

Andrew and I missed breakfast our first morning here (because of the aforementioned comfy beds), so on our second morning we made sure to set our alarms and were among the first to hit the buffet. There were of course the standard waffles, pancakes, sausages, and eggs that you can expect from most hotel breakfasts… but there were lots of healthy vegan and vegetarian friendly options offered, too. They even had fresh pressed juices! We both agreed it was the best hotel brekky we’ve ever had.

Unfortunately, I didn’t dine at Camper Grill and Bar for any other meals, however, I did catch a whiff of whatever they were serving up for lunch and dinner… and the smells alone had my mouth watering. This is a popular spot for locals, too, and there was always a huge lineup at lunch time, so I’d recommend booking your table in advance! For bookings contact restaurant.downtowncamper@scandichotels.com.

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Alongside the Camper Grill, you’ll find one of the hotel’s two bars.

It’s open for both hotel guests and locals seven days a week, and, like the rest of the property, there’s a really cozy rustic vibe. Grab one of their delicious cocktails and have a seat on one of the swings. Seriously - Swings for seats! So cute.

The bar is open from noon to midnight weekly, and stays open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

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The Nest Cocktail Lounge is another great spot to grab a drink at Downtown Camper. This rooftop lounge serves up light bar snacks, gorgeous cocktails, and incredible views of Stockholm. They also have DJs at their weekly afterwork events here.

The bar is open 4pm-11pm from Tuesday to Thursday and 2pm-1am on Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Sunday and Monday, but, as far as I know, guests can still visit the lounge and enjoy the space even when the bar isn’t open.

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For a healthy bite to eat, head to the Downtown Camper Café.

This new cafe is located by the hotel’s second entrance on Drottninggatan, one of Stockholm’s most popular walking streets. The 100% vegetarian menu offers a wide variety of delicious, plant-based foods.

Beside the cafe area, there is another space with couches and tables where you can get some work done, relax, or meet with friends and colleagues - (I’m honestly surprised I was able to get a shot of it empty because the next time I came through here it was PACKED).

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events + activities

Downtown Camper has lots of free onsite activities and events that guests can participate in throughout the week like yoga classes, afterwork events, and weekend films.

As tempting as it’ll be to stick around the hotel, you have to get out and explore the city, too. Join one of the walking, biking, running, or photo tours led by a local Downtown Camper guide, and, if none of that strikes your fancy, head over to the lifestyle concierge for the inside scoop on what to do in Stockholm. You can even rent a bike, skateboard, longboard, or kayak to explore the city on your own!

For more information about their weekly activities and events, visit Downtown Camper’s website or Facebook page.

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location, location, location!

…and (on top of everything else this hotel has goin’ for it) the location is something else I loved about Downtown Camper! It’s literally smack dab in the middle of Stockholm, and right around the corner from the Central Station, so getting around is super easy and convenient. While you’re at it, you have to check out the city’s incredible underground art.

For more info on the best stations to visit and when, check out the photo guide below!


booking

To check current rates or book your stay at Downtown Camper, use the search box below.


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Accommodation Spotlight! FireFly Villa - Ubud, Bali

Looking for a quiet escape in the magical rice fields of Ubud? Does your dream Bali vacation involve spending a night in an eco-treehouse or bamboo cottage?

If you’re anything like me, you answered yes to both of these questions – Keep reading to find out how to make your Bali travel dreams a reality.


Down a winding path in the rice fields of lush Ubud is a quiet, cozy spot that you won’t find on GoogleMaps - Firefly Villa

 
 

Firefly, a beautiful rice field hideaway, is the perfect place to stay while visiting Ubud.

Though it’s just a short walk to the city center, the property is highly secluded, and only accessible by foot or by bike.

Firefly can arrange airport transfer for you at a cost of US$30, if you give them enough notice... since it will literally be impossible to find on your own. I took my chances on snagging a cab at the airport, (and ended up paying about half that). Bali travel tip! - If you're getting a taxi from the airport, BARGAIN for a cheaper fare. In my experience, something about being a solo female traveler with a too big backpack on my back made some people think they could get one over on me.

The first taxi driver who approached me... while I was eating breakfast at the airport cafe... (and not at all soliciting a cab)... said he'd ONLY charge me 400,000 rupiahs to get to Ubud. The second cabbie I was approached by after breakfast one upped him by quoting me an "excellent flat-rate price" of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND. 500,000 rupiahs to Ubud?! Try again, El Chapo! I stopped, looked at him, said, "You must think I'm some kind of stupid," and kept walking.

Travel hack: Even though it's frowned upon/"not allowed" in some parts of Bali, you can still download Uber to at least get an estimated price for your trip. Bargain for a ride priced a bit higher than Uber, and Wa-lah! Never get duped by rip off cabbies who don't run a meter ever again! A bit of negotiating/playing hard ball later and I found a taxi driver to take me to Ubud for 200,000.


My taxi driver looked confused as he came to a stop at the side of the road, a location given to him after calling a staff member at the villa. He turned to look at me in the backseat and asked me, yet again, “Are you sure this is the right place?” I shrugged, called the Airbnb number, and within a few minutes, a motorbike engine sputtered to a stop. A hotel staff member had parked their bike at the top of a very steep hill, and was walking down to the road to help me with my belongings.

With my big backpack on the handlebars, and my small backpack on my back, the two of us somehow kept our balance as we rode down the tiny path through the rice fields. He asked me, “Are you afraid of snakes?” as a massive lizard cut across our path, then made some comment about the beauty of staying in nature (that I only halfway heard because my eyes were peeled, and I was concentrating on the presence of snakes). I wondered, not for the first time in my life... (and also likely not the last), “WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOURSELF IN TO?”

 
 

We arrived at the property and all my worries dissipated. I'd totally stopped my attempted snake spotting because HOLY SHIT - This place was a DREAM.

Though I was early, and the Bamboo Eco Cottage wasn’t quite ready for me to check in, the manager Ketut was very warm, welcoming, and told me to make myself at home in the open air kitchen and common area.

After travelling for 39 hours straight from Myanmar, I was perfectly okay with that. I grabbed a beer, my journal, and a cozy spot on the couch overlooking the quiet rice fields.

 
 

I have nothing but good things to say about FireFly... and the best part is the affordable price.

It was so relaxing, and though there's a lot to do in Ubud, FireFly made me want to kick back and do absolutely nothing. The first day, we stayed in the Bamboo Eco Cottage, a perfect little loft with a private walkway, patio, and a beautiful view. No one was checking in the following day, so we were able to spend the morning having a delicious breakfast and relaxing in the sun on the patio with a cute Bali pooch who came to hang out with us.

For our second night at Firefly, we moved to the Birds Nest, a literal four-story bamboo, treehouse style nest with private pods that can only be accessed by using their respective wooden ladder. Each level has a double bed with a canopy, a light, and an outlet. As you can imagine, these aren't extremely spacious, but it's all the space you need (and a hell of a lot better than a hostel bunk bed).

My travel companion stayed on the second level, and, with a go big or go home mentality, I decided to stay on the fourth. The climb up is definitely not for the faint of heart, but don't worry about having to take any of your things up there with you, as lockers are provided in another common area.

When we woke up in the morning it was POURING down rain. I couldn't even be mad at Mother Nature for ruining our plans to explore Ubud, because the sound of the rain from the treehouse was absolutely incredible. It was like sleeping in the clouds, and neither I nor my friend minded pushing back our plans for the day to stay in our nests a little longer.

 
 

 

Despite being an open-air, eco-property, FireFly was really clean (with the exception of the bugs who, lets face it, live there). The food was delicious, and the staff was so helpful when it came to arranging activities, boat tickets, and transportation around the city. The one thing that may be a down side for some travellers visiting this property is the spotty wifi. Also, the power as a whole cut out a couple of times, but this wasn’t just a property issue, it’s a city/Bali-wide issue.

All but one of the other guests were friendly, laid back, and understanding of the fact that when you’re staying in the midst of nature, you’re not going to have aircon constantly blasting, or full bars on your cellphone. However, a deranged solo traveller, who we coined “Cali Bro,” absolutely flipped out about this… (and everything else). Despite his cursing, shouting, and promises to give them a bad Airbnb review, Ketut the manager, and the rest of the staff, handled him flawlessly. (If you do read a bad review of the property, chances are it’s him and shouldn't be taken to heart).

In addition to having a horrible attitude, Cali Bro left his stuff everywhere, blasted his shitty music for everyone to hear, and even used the food in the fridge that belonged to the property restaurant. There’s a difference between respectfully making yourself at home, and treating a shared space like it IS your home, and Cali Bro definitely did the latter. He has apparently behaved this way before, and, in an attempt to keep him from returning, was banned by the host on AirBnb. Cali Bro literally made a NEW ACCOUNT in order to stay there and wreak havoc again.

Seriously, Airbnb if there’s anything you can do about making sure that FireFly's management never has to deal with this guy again, I know they, and travellers like myself, would appreciate it (as he was the only negative aspect of my stay here). CHEERS!

 
 

I loved this place and can't wait to go back to stay in one of the many other villas on the property - (maybe one with A/C! Because, yes they have those). 

And I almost forgot - The outdoor showers and bathrooms are incredible! Whether you're trying to cool off in the heat of the day, or showering under the stars, the bathroom situation at FireFly WILL NOT disappoint.

 
 

Interested in booking a stay at FireFly?

Click here to book the Bamboo Eco-Cottage.

If you're Ballsy, Click here to book the Bird's Nest Level 4.

 
 

Visiting Ubud? Need a ride? Call Gusti!

Want to skip the hassle of haggling with cabbies, or just want to learn a thing or two about Bali? Get in touch with Gusti! Referred to us by Ketut, Gusti was one of the best people I met in Indonesia. He didn’t just take us from point A to point B, he taught me a lot about Balinese culture, customs, and was just a really nice guy.

On our last night in Ubud, he took us to a local market and bought more street meat and Balinese cakes than our two stomachs could handle - things we never would have known to get on our own. (He also explained the process of rice farming to me... and now I can FINALLY sleep soundly - Kid you not, he actually pulled the car over and picked some from a roadside field to show us where the rice comes from).

If you're also curious as to how rice happens (or if you need a ride) you can contact him at +62 (877)-6043-7705. Tell him Kirstie sent ya!


New to Airbnb? Click here to sign up and receive a discount on your first reservation (so you can rice and shine at FireFly Villa, too)!