Our brief stay at the beautiful four star Clarion Hotel Sense in Luleå, Sweden was the perfect option for the gateway to Swedish Lapland.
We were tired when we arrived in Luleå in the early morning hours. Our overnight train compartment from Stockholm had been fairly comfortable (at least for me, who’d slept in the bottom bunk), but as we feared, it was so early that our room at the Clarion Hotel Sense wasn’t ready.
Apologetically, the desk clerk smiled, handed us tickets for the breakfast room on the top floor of the hotel and kindly stowed our bags. “Please make yourselves at home. When you’ve finished our complimentary breakfast, make yourself at home here in the lobby workspace, and help yourself to coffee and pastries.”
It was no small consolation. The breakfast at Clarion Hotel Sense was magnificent, with what seemed like acres of choice. This wasn’t surprising; our stay at their sister Clarion Hotel Sign in Stockholm had been a great experience with a bountiful breakfast as well. But the Sense’s rooftop views of the impossibly blue arctic summer sky over Luleå’s waterfront were exceptional.
As well, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, with whom we are well acquainted as Minnesotans, has put his indelible mark on the Kitchen & Table restaurant which melds into the popular, sophisticated Sky Bar on this floor. The atmosphere was chic and the breakfast bountiful.
Afterward, we headed back down to the Clarion Hotel Sense lobby, determined to take advantage of the workspace for whatever time remaining until we could check-in. A quick glance around made me wonder why I had ever moved on from the Scandinavian contemporary aesthetic.
Natural elements and textural combinations intertwined to offset a dramatic lighting installation of gradient colors. The entire effect was equal parts vibrant and serene. Whoever designed this space knew their stuff.
Our Superior Twin Room was appointed with minibar, safety box, hair dryer, iron & ironing board, TV, telephone and tea & coffee making facilities. Minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic was borne out here in texture and a wall graphic evocative of a sunny ice field. Warm bedclothes and blackout curtains were made for slumber despite the midnight sun. Attention to details important to digital nomads like ourselves – connectivity and convenience – was everywhere.
It was a shame we couldn’t have stayed longer. We’d pushed our itinerary to the max – leaving the next morning for Kiruna (see our story here). After a few hours rest, we wandered around Luleå and made it an early night.
Tips and Practicalities: Luleå deserves more of a visit than we were able to give it. Situated on the Bothnian Archipelago and billing itself as the gateway to Swedish Lapland, Luleå offers proximity to a nearby UNESCO site, the Gammelståd Church Town. Boasting its own cathedral as well as the first indoor shopping mall in the world, it is a bustling, busy little town.
In July, Luleå residents were doing their best to soak up the midday sun, promenading on the main pedestrian street, indulging in a little sidewalk chess and enjoying fika (the traditional Swedish mid-morning and mid-afternoon break for coffee and a sweet) al fresco. Luleå is easily reached by air or train from Stockholm.
Disclosure: Our complimentary stay at Clarion Hotel Sense was arranged by Visit Luleå in conjuction with TBEX Stockholm.