Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Royal Treatment at the Grand Hotel, Stockholm

The changing of the guards, Royal Palace Stockholm
I love a royal wedding. The host country puts on a fabulous show, the jewels are taken out of the vaults, and it's a never ending parade of beautifully dressed ladies. This past Saturday Sweden's Princess Madeleine wed her American banker fiancé at a ceremony in Stockholm. Royals from across Europe donned their ceremonial sashes and sparkling tiaras to witness the youngest daughter of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia tie the knot.

Friday night the Swedish royal family gave a private party to kick off the weekend at the elegant Grand Hotel on Stockholm's sparkling blue waterfront. This beautiful five-star hotel regularly hosts royalty, Nobel laureates, dignitaries from around the world, and on one hot summer day in 2011 it hosted the weary and hungry little C&Gs.

Salmon and reindeer sashimi at Matbaren
On our first day in Stockholm we decided to give our feet a break and tour the harbor on one of the sightseeing boats. It was a great idea, but both little C&Gs promptly fell asleep, waking an hour later when we bumped into the dock in front of the enormous Grand Hotel. One look at their tired little faces and I knew we needed to find cool air, cocktails, and something to eat, stat.

Elbowing our way out of the crowds getting off the boat, we crossed the street and escaped into the ornate lobby of the hotel. After a few bounces on the overstuffed couches we realized we were far too underdressed for snacks at the swanky lobby bar. We continued exploring the hotel until we came upon the two restaurants of the star Swedish chef and Bocuse d'Or winning Mathias Dahlgren.

Dessert was a much bigger hit than dinner
Matsalen is a two Michelin starred affair right next door to the more casual Matbaren, with "only" a single Michelin star. We certainly weren't heading into the world renowned Matsalen, but the friendly maitre'd said there was a table on the patio of Matbaren, and graciously welcomed us into the restaurant for dinner.

Matbaren looks like the chicest Scandinavian farm house, all blond wood, red accents, and open kitchen. The boys drooled over the center island table covered in fresh loaves of crusty bread, and we admired the cocktails being served at the bar. There was no children's menu, but they offered to grill up some plain chicken and to keep the bread supply coming. After stealing Mr. C&Gs smoked salmon (strange how they left the reindeer) the little C&Gs made sure to leave plenty of room for dessert.

We had an amazing meal with a beautiful view of the harbor at twilight (which is about as dark as it gets before midnight), and nobody raised an eyebrow at our t-shirt clad crew. I can't imagine walking into a Michelin starred restaurant in NYC and being equally as welcomed, much less with two kids in tow. The friendliness and openness of the Scandinavian people is legendary, and we certainly saw that first hand with our adventure in Stockholm's top hotel. We weren't staying there, and I can only imagine how the Grand Hotel puts out the red carpet for its royal guests. Basic rooms at the hotel start at 3,800SEK (roughly $575), although I'm sure if you're in town to pick up your Nobel they'll give you a deal.

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