Like most of its Scandanavian counterparts, Stockholm is pricey. And that expense, unsurprisingly, extends to its accommodation too. If you're looking for somewhere to lay your head in the old town Gamla Stan that's affordable when going solo, then forget it now. However, as I always say, staying in the centre isn't always the key to a great stay. If the city you're visiting is a walkable one and has safe and efficient transport links – Stockholm fits the bill perfectly – then don't be afraid to explore options slightly outside the main hub. And with that, I'd like to introduce you to Motel L. And no, in this case the name doesn't say it all – far from it in fact.
The word 'motel' may conjure up visions of roadside, semi-run down hotels for those who have travelled in the USA, but don't let this fool you – Motel L is without a doubt a hotel, and a modern, trendy boutique one at that. Although technically it's located outside of Stockholm's centre, in the grand scheme of things that means nothing – a tram stops conveniently outside the hotel at Mårtensdal, and with a quick switch to the Tunnelbana at Gullmarsplan, it's only a 10-15-minute pleasant journey across the water to downtown Stockholm. In fact, Motel L's location Hammarby Sjöstad is itself a huge plus – and still somewhat of a hidden gem. Hammarby Sjöstad was once a run down industrial area, but in the 1990s Stockholm set out to give it a facelift (noticing a trend yet? Check out See: Budapest and See: Belgrade for other city spots undergoing a makeover). Now the area is – to put it simply - quite lovely. An abundance of quays and walkways and some bars and restaurants along the Sickla Kanal, make Hammarby Sjöstad a dark horse, and one which you will undoubtedly want to spend some time strolling around.
Back to Motel L's digs. Upon arrival visitors are met with a modern lobby-cum-cafe-cum-pop-up-office (the hotel encourages freelancers to leave their home office and come and hang out here to do some of their daily work). It feels welcoming and a place to 'take-five' without feeling like you are in a hotel lobby and under the beady eye of reception staff. They eye-catching design is down to Swedish designer Lisa Bengtsson. Her stylish touch is imprinted all over the hotel – quite literally: vivid colours and playful patterns can be found on the walls, textiles and more. And you can enjoy the aesthetics without too much guilt either, as Motel L is the proud winner of Gold level environmental certification from the Swedish system 'Miljöbyggnad'.
The contemporary design continues in the bedrooms. Although not huge, they pack a design punch – with additions such as a hanging wall to hook your clothes on and make a statement while at the same time saving space. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the rooms feel even more spacious, bright and welcoming. There aren't any tea and coffee facilities in the room, but never fear, free and unlimited hot drinks can be grabbed from the lobby downstairs and can be either taken back up to your room or enjoyed on one of the comfy couches in the lounge.
Did I mention the rain shower in the bathroom yet? No? Well, that's probably because I want to make sure you leave your room – because you may well be tempted to stay in it all day. Of course, that's if you've already managed to make it out of the comfy Carpe Diem bed yet. If you don't have time or just don't fancy a big breakfast at the hotel every day – I often don't book breakfasts at hotels as I like to discover the best brunch spots – then the convenience of the supermarket next door where you can pick up some fruit or a freshly-baked pastry will be a big perk (see Eat: Stockholm for my views in-full on Swedish supermarkets).
Fitness addicts who like to keep up their regime even whilst away will be more than satisfied, too – they can pick between Motel L's gym, or running alongside the water's edge at Sickla Kanal behind the hotel.
The price tag? No need to hold your breath. I paid a more-than-reasonable 87 euros per night excluding breakfast (and depending on when you visit rooms start as little as around 70 euros). This may sound like a lot, but when considering that some boutiques in the centre charge around the 140 euro mark for a room without windows, Motel L isn't only a steal in Stockholm but a stylish stay to boot.