A short staycation at Hotel At Six in Stockholm

I recently took a brief staycation in one of Stockholm’s new ’luxury hotels’ – Hotel At Six. At Six is a part of both iPrefer and Nordic Choice Hotels (not sure how that works, but I could only receive points from one 😩), the latter is the mother company of my favourite Scandinavian chain Clarion, and hence my expectations were quite high. I won’t elaborate that much, but the stay was definitely my best hotel experience so far in Sweden; great staff, great room and amenities, and most of all fantastic views from our ’deluxe room’.


Room and views over Stockholm. Try to get a room facing Djurgården. The other direction, towards Södermalm has more nearby buildings blocking the view.

Complimentary breakfast buffet pretty latte.

We brought our own champagne to the room and got to borrow nice Riedel champagne glasses from house keeping. Ice bucket was included in the room and ice machines was in the hallway.

Room service sounded delicious but was a tad expensive so we went for take away from Barrels and Burgers (city), which is relatively close. The money we saved was invested in a bottle of Brunello that was deeelicious with the burgers, wings and fries.

After a good nights rest in the fluffy bed it was time for a very nice breakfast before checking out.

Bonjour, Paris!


Last weekend we visited a place I should’ve visited a long time ago. By some reason, the closest I’ve been to the City of Lights is seeing the Eiffel Tower from a plane, when transiting at Charles De Gaulle airport. But now it was time, at last, for Paris! Since we’re as usual saving up on our vacation days, we left straight from work Friday, and got back home late Sunday, so it’s possible to do a weekend in Paris (at least from Stockholm) without using any of your precious days off. I though I’d share a couple of pictures from our short weekend visit.

Since we are silver level members of Accor’s Le Club programme we were treated to a complimentary drink in our hotel’s, Hotel L’Echiquier Opéra Paris MGallery by Sofitel, 1920s style “Le 38 Bar Lounge“. We were very delighted to find out that champagne was one of the possible selections, and we ordered a glass each of  Veuve Clicquot to start the party.

Our hotel had a very nice breakfast, that was served in the same room as the bar was in during night time. The spread was great, and what I had hoped for would be included on a Parisian breakfast buffet. There were numerous French cheeses, charcuterie, great bread (very important), decent scrambled eggs, bacon, fried mushrooms, fancy French butter in little paper wrappings and nice juice and coffee. Definitely my kind of breakfast. Très bien!


Since we only had one full day in Paris we had pre-booked Louvre tickets through Viator to save some time. I think the price was a Euro or two more a person than buying a ticket at the actual museum, but using this method, we could walk straight in (after the security check) instead of course queing to the ticket booth in the museum.


A famous lady in the Louvre.
After the Louvre, we walked to the small island on where the Notre-Dame de Paris is located.


The Eiffel Tower, or in French: Tour de Eiffel, opened in 1890 and a symbol for Paris and France. It was quite a walk from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower. But we walked mainly along the Seine and enjoyed the views and the walk despite there was actually snowing. So much for my idea of “meeting Spring in Paris” when I booked the tickets last fall. This shot is taken from Trocadero, where you get a nice elevated position for a good picture of the Eiffel Tower and views over Paris in general.

After the Eiffel Tower, we walked to the next sight, the Arc de Triomphe and the fancy boulevard Champs-Élysées. At this points our feet hurt and the step-tracker showed roughly 30000 steps or 20 kilometers. It was time to use the Paris Metro. We bought one single ride ticket each (€1.90 in 2017) and navigated our way back to our hotel.


Feet resting-champagne on our hotel room’s Parisian balcony.


Day two we sort of cheated and took an Uber X (worked really well in Paris by the way) to the Sacré-Cœur where we were treated to grey but great views over the city. Again, a great place to snap some pictures over Paris. We were told the area was a little bit rough, but we walked down through Montmartre towards the more central parts and thought it felt very safe.


Our walk ended at “Paris’ answer to Harrod’s”: the Galeries Lafayette department store. Here we found Angelina where we had an okay but honestly a bit dissapointing steak tartare with pommes frites and salad. The tartare was served quite cold, and felt a little bit soggy and almost wet. I might be wrong but I think I noticed a hint of ketchup in the flavour. I was not impressed, but on the other hand my travel companion liked the tartare.

One for the road. A final cocktail at the hotel bar before our transfer back to the airport and reality of another work week.

Two days of eating in Las Palmas

Our final days on Gran Canaria was spent in the capital city of the island, Las Palmas. After deciding to catch a bus from Maspalomas to Las Palmas, our taxi driver, taking us from our hotel to the bus station, catched us in our laziest baggage-hauling moment and offered us a only for you my friend-price for a door-to-door delivery to our hotel in Las Palmas. The seats were comfy, the price felt okay, and hey we were already in the taxi. So we took the offer of 56 euros for the trip and arrived about an hour later at the Santa Catalina hotel.

Santa Catalina Hotel, Las Palmas

The Santa Catalina is, I guess, the ‘grand olde lady’ of Las Palmas hotels, which we hadn’t really realized when booking. The exterior was impressive, as can be seen above with the magnificent 1890s building which was fronted by a nice garden. This felt like a place where presidents and kings (at least used to) stay. And apparently for instance Winston Churchill had done so fifty odd years or so ago. Our standard room at the Santa Catalina was a bit old and worn, but at the same time with a certain ‘old world’ charm such as actual room keys in addition to more recent stuff such as decent wifi and a flatscreen tv.

Segundo Muelle, Las Palmas

After a bit of exploring in Las Palmas, we needed food. As the Santa Catalina is a bit away from the city center, we were happy to find Segundo Muelle, a Peruvian restaurant, nextdoor to the hotel. Segundo Muelle is, as we found out, apparently a global restaurant chain with outlets in Miami, Lima, Quito (Ecuador), and of course, in Las Palmas.

When in Peruvian restaurants, drink Pisco Sour. Also featured in the picture is toasted salty corn. NO, it is not popcorn!

Ceviche with corn, cilantro/coriander, onion, chilli and possibly the star of the dish: a glazed, baked piece of sweet potato.

I almost always eat lomo saltado in Peruvian restaurants. It’s so good in its simplicity as is it great in the clever combination of two of world’s greatest kitchens. It’s woked beef fillet with chilli, tomatoes, sweet pepper, onion and potato chips(!), served with rice. Asia meets South America. Yum.

To finish some kind of yummy cake with chocolate, peanuts and praline.

No bed-going before a night cap dry martini if you live in a hotel built in the 1800s.

No breakfast without cava and lots of delicious food on gold-plated… Err, plates, had with golden cutlery. When, exactly, staying in hotels built in 1890. Our time in the golden days of travel was now over. Back to the 2010s.

Hotel Reina Isabel, Las Palmas

Our last hotel of the trip, booked six months in advance in a time when we thought we’d spend our last night of vacation after seven crazy days in West Africa in some Gran Canarian style. Oh well, the Reina Isabel was a really nice hotel, despite being our fourth in the same island in 9 days. Views from the rooftop pool and bar was amazing over both the city as well as the Las Canteras beach, as seen above.

This day was also my dear girlfriend and travel buddy’s birthday, and hence we needed another good place to eat. Fortunately, we found El Churrasco.

El Churrasco is an Argentinian steakhouse, just off the Las Canteras beachwalk on Calle Olof Palme. We started off Spanish with a bunch of really (really, really) delicious, fat and juicy prawns sizzling in a chilli and garlic oil as they were delivered at our table together with warm, crusty and also delicious bread.

Next dish was, maybe not that surprisingly, steak. A very good steak should be added. I actually called it one of my top five steaks ever, and that could actually be true, even though I’m writing this without any red wine infused passion. The great steaks (we had Argentinian entrecôte and a bife de chorizo) were served with surprisingly bland and under-fried chips (still edible though) as well as a fortunately tastier chimichurri sauce. Everything was washed down with a nice bottle of Rioja.

To finish we shared a dulce de leche filled pancake with an unusually tasty scoop of ice cream.

A great dinner. Despite the chips.


Then it was time to bid Las Palmas adiós (and almost our lives since our airport taxi driver drove like he was mad). That was that. Next stop is Paris, a first for me, in a couple of weeks.

Canary Islands part two: Palm Oasis Maspalomas Hotel

After our first two days in Playa del Inglés, we managed to make a last minute booking for the Palm Oasis Maspalomas. Their cheaper studio apartments were sold out, but instead we secured a 70 sqm apartment for about €120 a night, which I found very affordable given the hotel’s ratings, the apartment’s size and the general luxurious feeling of the place. In the taxi from Playa del Inglés going to the Palm Oasis, I saw a palace-like structure and secretly wished it was the actual hotel, which it was.

In room-cooking

A very nice aspect of the hotel was the fully equipped kitchen. I usually never cook when abroad, but hey, we were in the Canary Islands for 8 more days than planned, so why not save some money. Above is our apartment-made green olive tapenade ‘pintxos’ and a chilli-butter-red wine slow-cooked meat sauce served with spaghetti and parmesan cheese. The kitchen was extra convenient since the Palm Oasis Maspalomas has their own supermarket within the hotel (with slightly but not that much inflated prices), as well as there is a Spar supermarket a 3-4 minute walk away on Calle Einstein with a proper deli, quite an assortment of wine and beer and so on.

The room/apartment at Palm Oasis Maspalomas

Above is the view from the terrace that came with our apartment. You could see all the way to the Maspalomas dunes as well as the pretty pool area just to the right in the above picture. There were also two sunloungers so you could laze around your room all day still getting a tan. Our apartment also featured a big flatscreen tv with great picture quality; well-functioning wifi; a separate bedroom, and a bathroom that even had a jacuzzi hot tub.

The main restaurant

On two occassions we tried the hotel restaurant. Not much to write home about, but the food was decent enough. Above is from the ‘Gran Canaria night’ buffet which featured local delicacies such as the wrinkly Canarian potatoes ‘papas arrugadas’ with mojo rojo and salsa verde as well as grilled food, a few salads and some not-so-Canarian desserts. Some of the dishes (especially grilled entrecôte, chorizo and papas) were actually quite tasty, but most was standard buffet stuff.

Location

The location is a bit off from the beach, but the hotel has solved this with a free transfer bus to Maspalomas beach that leaves four times a day and also return back to the hotel in the afternoon. To reach the Faro lighthouse and its restaurants or eg. Yumbo shopping center (both close to beach and restaurants) is about 4-5 euros with a taxi that the hotel happily order for you.

Since we had not planned on staying in the Canary Islands for more than three days we had no real idea what to do. One of the days though we went for a whale and dolphin tour with Spirits of the Sea tour company. It was actually very worthwile. We paid roughly €30 per person including hotel pick-up and got to see loads of dolphins playing around the boat. No whales unfortunately. Still a great trip though with a friendly crew.

The hotel in summary

Nice rooms, great pool area, and friendly staff. A bit far from the beach and good restaurants, but I would stay again given the easy and free transfer bus to the beach and affordable local taxis.