Scandinavians know good design—interior designers have long looked to Denmark for furniture and ceramics; clean, functional style is the lifeblood of Swedish living; Finland is to thank for Marimekko, Alvar Aalto, and Eero Saarinen; and fast-growing Oslo continues to push the boundaries with its car-less boroughs and urban architecture powerhouse Snøhetta. Whether in a capital city or out in the wilderness, for our northern neighbors, style and living well go hand in hand. Here, 9 design-centric hotels we can’t stop dreaming about.
Three 19th-century buildings across the street from the Royal Danish Theatre are now known as Sanders, a 54-room retreat and stylish addition to Copenhagen’s hotel scene. Interiors, courtesy of London-based design firm Lind + Almond (whose previous work includes Soho House), are tasteful and eclectic: pale green and taupe walls, mid-century Danish furniture, and commissioned local art lend guest rooms a cozy, lived-in feel, while the glass-roofed conservatory offers an even more relaxed atmosphere with its rattan furniture and Arne Jacobsen chairs. Enjoy a pre- or post-performance tipple in cocktail bar TATA before regional Mediterranean cuisine in the kitchen restaurant.
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ION Adventure Hotel, Iceland
Set against a dramatic backdrop of lichen-coated lava fields, ION Adventure Hotel is a tribute to Iceland’s rugged landscape. The Brutalist building's sharp angles echo Mount Hengill’s jagged slopes near Thingvellir National Park; inside is much more inviting, with a minimalist Scandinavian design that incorporates driftwood, organic linens, Icelandic wool throws, and wall-size horse photos. For the best views—as well as a taste of authentic Nordic cuisine like fresh arctic char and skyr brûlée— snag a seat at Silfra Restaurant, where the distant lake and mountains are framed by floor-to-ceiling windows. At night, head to the Northern Lights bar, which was designed to keep you-know-what in full view.
The Thief, Oslo
Don’t judge “Thief Island” by its name. Blessed with car-free streets and an unbeatable location near Oslo’s up-and-coming waterfront, Tjuvholmen (its proper title) is one of the city’s trendiest arts districts, and home to one of the city’s most stylish hotels. Everything about The Thief was designed with its arty surroundings in mind: public spaces are filled with modern art on loan from the next-door museum, furniture is by the likes of Tom Dixon and B&B Italia, and the 118 rooms (all black and gold, with bespoke wool blankets and Norwegian-designed slippers) look out onto the canals and Oslofjord. Don't miss Fru K restaurant, where head chef Johan Laursen prepares some of the finest modern Nordic cuisine (local monkfish with dried beetroot; Norwegian lobster with Brussels sprouts and horseradish) in Oslo.
In actuality, Treehotel is not one but seven separate “treehouse” suites, each designed by a different Scandinavian architect according to its own theme. Scattered throughout an area of woodland in far northern Sweden, you’ll find a mirrored cube cantilevered above the forest floor, a Bauhaus-style bird’s nest, a UFO-shaped five-bedroom suite, and a charred timber cabin by Snøhetta built around the trunk of a pine tree. Interiors are rustic and minimal—sleek furnishings with few mod cons—and custom-fitted to their designs. What they all share: access to guided activities, from forest hikes to horseback rides to moose safaris, and unparalleled opportunities (you’re above the Arctic Circle, after all) to spot the northern lights.
Nobis Hotel Copenhagen
Copenhagen's beautiful former Royal Danish Conservatory of Music is now a stylish 77-room stay courtesy of starchitect Gert Wingårdh. The transformation is breathtaking—think high ceilings, egg-shaped bathtubs, chevron-patterned parquet floors, and furniture from Carl Hansen & Son—and the food is just as stellar. We're talking inspired French and Nordic dishes like fried duck on the bone with onions and tarragon and grilled Danish pork with leeks from Kiselgården.
Ett Hem, Stockholm
Posh Östermalm is the perfect home for Ett Hem, a century-old, 12-room mansion by British interior designer Ilse Crawford. Rooms read like the apartment of your most fashionable friend—think Scandinavian functionality married with touches of laid-back luxury such as jewel-toned fabrics, oil paintings, Gotland sheepskins, and cast-iron stoves. There’s even a walled garden and a library, where meals are served throughout the day as well as in the dining room. Pop into the kitchen for complimentary cake and wine, then sweat out the carbs in the on-site traditional Swedish sauna.
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Juvet Landscape Hotel, Norway
Those who've seen Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller Ex Machina will recognize the Juvet Landscape Hotel, which stood in as billionaire Nathan Bateman's remote mountain retreat for his study of humanoid A.I. Why film crews chose to film here is obvious: the boxy, minimalist structure is at once tranquil and futuristic, as clean and sparse as the surrounding Norwegian forest. Nothing about the terrain was altered during the construction of Juvet's nine standalone pods, whose windows are angled in odd ways so as to maximize privacy while walls are retrofitted with jaw-dropping floor-to-ceiling windows into the wilderness.
Hotel St. George, Helsinki
This March, prolific Finnish hotel group Kämp (behind Helsinki's stylish Klaus K and Hotel Kämp) adds another stunner to their portfolio. A landmark building next to the Old Church Park designed by lauded Finnish National Theatre architect Onni Tarjanne will soon be the 148-room Hotel St. George. Inside, rooms are spare but stylish, with faux fur throws and platform beds dressed in crisp white linens and pillows in eye-popping shades of emerald and dandelion. There will also be a spa with its own public sauna, a restaurant and a bakery, a cocktail bar, and a winter garden. Pay close attention to the curated selection of art displayed throughout the property, including an Ai Wei Wei installation in the lobby.
Fabriken Furillen, Gotland, Sweden
Furillen, a remote islet off Sweden's just-as-remote Gotland Island, seems an unnecessarily far place to build a hotel. But for photographer Johan Hellström, this is a refuge unlike anywhere in Sweden. It's here that he transformed a former limestone quarry into one of Sweden’s most far-flung hotels, whose cabins’ interiors read more like a design magazine’s feature spread: think local sheepskin rugs, Bang & Olufsen sound systems, and handmade midcentury furniture including Hästens bed frames. The local distractions are humble—empty beaches occupied by nesting seabirds, hyper-fresh seafood and ingredients from the hotel’s own farm—and that’s the point.