Founded by and named after King Karl IX, Karlstad is the Varmland province’s largest city located where Klaralven river meets lake Vanern. Known as a University City, an Event City and a Shopping City, Karlstad offers plenty of attractions for visitors who love sightseeing.
Sola i Karlstad
Apparently one of Sweden’s sunniest towns, Karlstad has the symbol of a happy sun. Outside Elite Stadshotellet in Karlstad, a statue honors local waitress Eva Lisa Holtz, commonly known as “Sola i Karlstad” (the Sun in Karlstad), because of her joyful and sunny disposition.
The City Garden
Situated south of the train station, the City Park was established in the early 1860s inspired by English-style parks and covers 5,5 hectare.
Varmland’s Museum has eight permanent exhibitions including coffee culture, city life, and local art from the 18th century until today in the house of Cyrillus, named after its architect, which also hosts temporary displays of contemporary art. Techniques include painting, graphic, photo, sculpture and handicraft.
Designed by architect Cyrillus Johansson, Museiparken surrounds the museum and offers beautiful views over the river. Apart from walking or jogging tracks and a nice green area in front of the museum building, it features a palace-looking house with courtyard, pergola, trees, flower arrangements, and a Taj Mahal-inspired reflective pool.
Open all year round, Mariebergsskogen is ideal for families with its bathing sites in a bay of lake Vanern, picnic spots, adventure playground, open-air museum, 400-year-old pine forest, lawns, flowers, and summer entertainment (such as the Putte i Parken music festival). There’s also a café, waffle cabin, and restaurant.
The Almen Quarter
Located by the western river branch, the Almen Quarter was a desirable area to live in during the 18th century and is now home to some of the town’s few old wooden buildings that survived the great fire in 1865.
The Old Stone Bridge
The twelve-arch Gamla Stenbron (The Old Stone Bridge) was built between 1761 and 1811 and is one of Sweden’s longest stone bridges at 168 meters.
Klaralven (“The clear river”), the longest river in Sweden, and the way it flows through town instantly makes Karlstad easy to love.
Thanks to its location by lake Vanern, locals and visitors can enjoy plenty of activities by and on the water, including kayaking.
Where to Stay
Situated at Norra Strandgatan near the city library, Varmland’s Museum and the canal with shops, cafés and restaurants only a block away, Scandic Winn has an advantageous location for visitors.
Rooms range from 15-22 sqm Standard rooms, 26-28 sqm Superior rooms, Superior Extra and a luxurious 34 sqm top-floor suite. I loved the wood laminate flooring and minimalist interior in my standard room. But with the lack of enough room character and a high number of 199 rooms, Scandic Winn hasn’t managed to avoid the unoriginal feeling of a chain hotel. More than okay for a night’s sleep but not if one wants something that stands out.
Fortunately, the hotel facilities make up for this with a relaxation area with Jacuzzi and saunas as well as a modern gym. For a space without windows, I thought they did very well with large inspiring images that cover the walls and add color to an otherwise white room. I love when hotels care about the look and atmosphere of gyms and not only their work-out equipment.
Another highlight at Scandic Winn is Café Artist, the stylish onsite restaurant that offers Italian cuisine with an international touch, tapas on Fridays and a wine in the elegant piano bar. Not least, the well-prepared breakfast buffet with vegan-friendly organic oat meal, organic apple sauce and soy milk.
On the whole, even though it doesn’t entirely live up to its name, Scandic Winn provides a pleasant hotel stay.
For an even more enviable location, Elite Stadshotellet by the river is an excellent choice.
Since its opening in 1870, Elite Stadshotellet has undergone repeated renovations and modernizations while still maintaining its classic charm. In the 19th century, Swedish author and poet Gustaf Fröding was one of the hotel’s many regular guests.
In recent years, they have renovated all 138 rooms. To preserve a part of the hotel’s classic environment and atmosphere, about 40 rooms have kept the Gustavian interior style after careful renovations.
Room categories include Standard, Superior, Deluxe and Suite. Like all rooms, my standard room on a lower floor had bathroom with shower or bathtub, cable TV, telephone, wireless Internet via the Cloud, desk and armchair. High ceilings were a much appreciated aspect and made the room feel less small. Book a room facing the river to make the most of the hotel’s location.
In the evening, there’s the possibility to enjoy dinner in one of the hotel’s drawing-rooms or to pick your choice from The Bishop’s Arms’ generous assortment of beer and whiskey. Guests are equally well provided for in the morning with a luxurious breakfast buffet in an elegant mileu. No other hotel I know of, besides other Elite properties, offers Brämhults freshly pressed, high-quality, all-natural fruit juices (with the super-delicious mango and orange combination) as part of their breakfast buffet. Soy milk are available for vegans and lactose-intolerant guests. Another bonus, during summer, younger guests will receive a gift during check-in and access to a play room. Like always, Elite shows why their hotels are named Elite.