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Need hotel suggestion for Karlstad, Sweden

Need hotel suggestion for Karlstad, Sweden

Old Nov 30, 11, 3:28 pm
  #1  
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Need hotel suggestion for Karlstad, Sweden

Am in need of suggestions.... I'm looking for a Westin/Sheraton level hotel in Karlstad. First time visitor (my niece will be attending the University), searching for someplace nice, clean, and quiet with comfortable beds and great service.

(Yeah, I'm spoiled, but it makes me happy.)

Thanks in advance for your help, you Amazing Flyer Talk Friends!
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Old Dec 1, 11, 3:58 am
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There are not Sheratons/Westins in Karlstad. There are however a couple of Best Westerns and Scandics (former Hilton).
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Old Dec 1, 11, 8:58 am
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Originally Posted by bowman View Post
There are not Sheratons/Westins in Karlstad. There are however a couple of Best Westerns and Scandics (former Hilton).
Right--that's why I'm inquiring about something that's at the "Westin/Sheraton level." I'm not familiar with any of the properties offered, and am hoping someone who's been to or lives in Karlstad might be able to help me identify the nicest property available.

Suggestions?
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Old Dec 1, 11, 2:36 pm
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Hi, I would say that the Elite Hotel in Karlstad is a good place, and they have a possibility to keep the room until 6 pm on Sundays and enjoy breakfast until noon. (check www.elite.se) Nice old building with well kept charm, not five star...(which you will not find in Karlstad)...but I would say four.
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Old Dec 1, 11, 11:36 pm
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I wouldn't recommend Elite, that old "charming" building really needs an update. There are no Westin-level hotels in Karlstad!
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Old Dec 2, 11, 10:22 am
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Given it is Karlstad I would also opt for the Elite. I have stayed there three or four times. The "english" Pub downstairs is decent, lively place. The rooms arnīt filthy but not the greatest. However, location of the hotel is as good as it gets.
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Old Dec 2, 11, 10:43 pm
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To me, a lively pub downstairs isn't a feature, but to each his/her own.

Do you have a car, or are you using public transportation?

For something a little different with car parking: Have a look at Clarion Collection Bilan.

Scandic Winn has a great breakfast.
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Old Dec 4, 11, 4:24 pm
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Originally Posted by tourist View Post
To me, a lively pub downstairs isn't a feature, but to each his/her own.

Do you have a car, or are you using public transportation?
Pretty sure I'll be on foot, but that's not set in stone (yet).

As for the pub...I'm more the "quiet, clean, and comfortable room type" than the "lively pub type." If it's a potential noise issue, though...good to know.
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Old Dec 5, 11, 5:11 am
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Originally Posted by tourist View Post
Scandic Winn has a great breakfast.
Scandic Winn is probably the closest the OP can get to a Sheraton in Karlstad.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 12:16 pm
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Originally Posted by tsastor View Post
Scandic Winn is probably the closest the OP can get to a Sheraton in Karlstad.
Will definitely take a peek at this option--thanks.

Has anyone stayed at the Clarion Collection Bilan? Photos on their website look nice, but...that doesn't necessarily mean they reflect the entire property. Does sound like there was a renovation within the past couple of years, though. Thoughts...?
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Old Mar 10, 12, 12:59 pm
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Follow up from the trip

Just posting a few after-the-trip notes in case a fellow FT member is headed toward Karlstad in the future....

As a word of warning, don't wait until you get there to book a hotel. In spite of it being a "normal" early March weekend, rooms were pretty much booked up everywhere.

My originally-reserved hotel (Clarion Bilan) was beyond disappointing; as a result, I was quickly on the hunt for an alternative. Thankfully, other hotels in town let me look at rooms they still had left before moving over. Here's what I found:

- - - - -

Clarion Bilan: Very disappointing
The so-called "Deluxe Double" was the smallest, most depressing room I've ever seen (including a couple of teeny weeny NYC hotels I've been stuck in before). Low ceilings, in spite of being on the top floor...small dorm room desk with no shelves or drawers...only 3' of space on either side of the bed...one small chair...no place large enough to set a suitcase while packing/unpacking (other than on the bed itself)...dim, sad light...two tiny windows set high on the wall (yup, this was definitely a prison in its earlier life)...and an exceptionally rude desk agent and manager. Couldn't get out of there fast enough.

- - - - -

Scandic Karlstad City: Where I ended up staying
The lobby is reminiscent of a W (without the attitude). Extremely nice desk staff, and a location right in the village. Bus stop only 1/2 block away, for trips beyond the central village (which is right at your doorstep).

The train station was an easy 3 block stroll. Just roll your luggage down the lovely pedestrian streets and you're there. (See note below about credit cards and ticket kiosks.)

The entire hotel is non-smoking (good, since I saw more smokers than I expected while out and about).

Rooms were quite a bit larger than the one I saw at the Bilan--think: roughly the size of a nicer W room in NYC. Lots of natural light, large desk, a luggage platform near the door that accommodated my oversized suitcase (with an electric outlet nearby...was able to charge my phone and iPad overnight, then grab them on the way out the door in the morning). I certainly did not feel cramped.

Oddly, however, there are no drawers (same story in the Scandic near Gardermoen in Oslo). Two shelves in the closet, plus two open shelves on the long, oversized desk. Worked for me, but only after I took the ironing board out of the closet and relocated it to a leaning position against the bedroom wall, out of the way.

The bath has one of those cool collapsable showers, making the room seem bigger (see photo below)...heated towel rack, heated tile floor, great lighting, electrical outlet just below the provided hair dryer.

The shower collapsed....


The shower opened up, ready for use....


Daily cleanup service moved at lightning speed. When going downstairs for the included breakfast buffet (lots of options, and tasty), I always returned to a freshly tidied room. Felt like elves were waiting in the shadows to rush in the moment I stepped out.

These rooms are incredibly quiet. Was shocked on my last morning, when opening the drapes to find a garbage truck dumping trash can contents into the compactor. If I listened carefully, there was a quiet "whuuuump" sound to be heard from my 5th floor room, but the grinding motor and banging cans were silent. Color me impressed. (Dear Westin at 43rd and 8th in NYC: Please follow the Scandic's lead.)

My only complaint would be the dusty floors (a downside to wood floors...shoes coming in from outdoors, luggage, etc.). Didn't feel "dirty," but definitely needed a Swiffer run. Pack slippers and you'll be fine.

- - - - -

The Elite
This is where I thought I'd end up after fleeing the Bilan, but alas, they only had two nights open. The two rooms I looked at were a Standard Double, and a Deluxe Double. The Standard was your typical small Scandanavian room; the Deluxe, however, was about 3 times larger, included a tub as well as a shower, had more seating, more light, and a large bright bath. The difference was only $15 US per night, so in my mind, grab a Deluxe if one's available.

- - - - -

Scandic Winn
They were completely sold out, so I didn't get to see a room. Given the number of guests there, however, my guess is this is the place to stay (unless you're in the mood for more historic digs, in which case the Elite is perfect). The desk agent couldn't have been nicer; when I realized my only option was going to be the Karlstad City location, he immediately got on the phone, called them, and made sure they held a room for me until I got back. Great spur of the moment reaction.

- - - - -

Other notes:

•.Scandanavian hotels do not supply washcloths or some of the in-room amenities we Americans are accustomed to. Be sure to pack a bath puff for the shower, as well as shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. Only liquid soap is provided (similar to Aloft here).

•.AmEx travelers checks are NOT accepted in Norway or Sweden, other than the occasional Forex office, where you will pay a painful premium. My intent was to use these the entire trip, having figured out last spring (Scotland) that my bank fees were far higher than the exchange rate would have taken. Imagine my shock when cashing in the first $100 check (Forex at Lillestrom train station, Norway)--involved three people at the Forex office, several phone calls to confirm they could accept it, and several passes through the blacklight scanner to prove it wasn't fake. After the exchange rate--which, by the way, is not favorable toward the US dollar--they took an additional 24% in fees. From then on, it was MasterCard all the way.

•.Unless you have a PIN number assigned to your credit card (not just debit cards), you won't be able to purchase anything from a kiosk--that includes train tickets. When paying at a counter, just tell the clerk to run the transaction as a "signature," which means you sign the slip. No human = no signature option. Didn't know that until I needed a last minute train ticket on Sunday morning, before the office opened. Thankfully, the niece who's studying at the University had her PIN-activated credit card handy.

•.Bus passes are the way to go if you'll be journeying beyond the central village (which, by the way, is a nifty place with loads of great shops). Purchase a pass at Pressbyran--the convenience shop, mid-block, north side of the square.

•.Don't eat at the Asian restaurant across from the Scandic Karlstad City...was awful. Do get a pizza at Kebabhouse on Vastra Torggatan. Great.
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Old Mar 10, 12, 2:39 pm
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Thank you for the useful follow-up, I enjoyed reading it. FT reference material!

Originally Posted by PaperQueen View Post
These rooms are incredibly quiet. Was shocked on my last morning, when opening the drapes to find a garbage truck dumping trash can contents into the compactor. If I listened carefully, there was a quiet "whuuuump" sound to be heard from my 5th floor room, but the grinding motor and banging cans were silent. Color me impressed. (Dear Westin at 43rd and 8th in NYC: Please follow the Scandic's lead.)
Yup. The advantage of having building standards for heavy winters is the noise isolation.

Originally Posted by PaperQueen View Post
My only complaint would be the dusty floors (a downside to wood floors...shoes coming in from outdoors, luggage, etc.). Didn't feel "dirty," but definitely needed a Swiffer run. Pack slippers and you'll be fine.
You mean as opposed to carpet floors with a lot more, but not as visible, dust?
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Old Mar 12, 12, 12:26 am
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Besides all of the misgivings, hopefully you enjoyed Karlstad.

Originally Posted by PaperQueen View Post
•.Don't eat at the Asian restaurant across from the Scandic Karlstad City...was awful.
Yeah. None of the Chinese restaurants in Karlstad are good. The Thai restaurants are okay, and my in-laws claim one of the highest-rated sushi restaurants in Sweden is located in Karlstad (never been).

Do get a pizza at Kebabhouse on Vastra Torggatan. Great.
I'm really not sure what makes Swedish pizza so special, but it's definitely a guilty pleasure I look forward to having a few times when I visit. If you do visit your niece again, there is a better pizza place I can recommend.
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Old Mar 12, 12, 4:55 pm
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Originally Posted by pseudoswede View Post
Besides all of the misgivings, hopefully you enjoyed Karlstad.
Enjoyed every moment (well, except for the mess with the Bilan, but hey--the rest of the trip was officially "pre-disastered" after that, for those who recall "The World According to Garp").

Originally Posted by pseudoswede View Post
I'm really not sure what makes Swedish pizza so special, but it's definitely a guilty pleasure I look forward to having a few times when I visit.
As for the Swedish pizza, I agree. That, and the odd proliferation of kebabs + pizza restaurants, have me perplexed. Who knew?

Originally Posted by pseudoswede View Post
If you do visit your niece again, there is a better pizza place I can recommend.
Please forward the recommendation--would love to share it with my niece. Thanks!
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