"Your room is on the waterline, don't leave the porthole open".
Not the usual welcome at the check-in desk. However, the Mälardrottningen Hotel in Stockholm isn't your usual city centre hotel.
The hotel, a 90 year old motor yacht once owned by a Woolworth heiress, is now permanently moored in Gamla Stan in the centre of Stockholm and provides about 60 rooms with more character than any of the surrounding traditional hotels. The rooms, or rather cabins, range from compact "Sailor's" cabins down on the waterline, through to the luxurious "Owner's" and "Captain's" cabins.
As soon as you walk up to reception you know that you are on the water. The yacht isn't rigidly attached to the dock, so as the tide changes and other boats pass by, the hotel rocks gently on it’s moorings. Throughout your stay you will expect to hear the sounds of the engines getting underway and of the ropes being cast off. The maritime feel of the hotel is magnified by the profusion of bright brass and dark mahogany - and the navy blue and gold carpets ensure that you think nautical at all times.
When you check in, particularly if you're down on the waterline make sure you ask for a waterside rather than a dockside cabin. The waterside cabins have views across Riddarfjärden, and in the winter at least provide all the evidence you need that you are in Scandinavia.
In winter, at the Mälardrottningen you don't have the normal city centre noises to keep you awake, instead you get the ever-changing creak and grind of the sea ice in the harbour against the hull of the ship to lull you to sleep. Your dreams will be of the exploits of Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton and your early morning wake-up call will be the local ice-breaker clearing the way for the harbour passenger ferries.
The traditional fittings don't get in the way of needs of the modern traveller. The cabins might shout 1920s, but the Scandinavian en-suite bathroom and the facilities are very 21st Century. There’s really efficient heating (useful when the temperature outside is -20°C, as it was when I visited in early February), satellite TV and wi-fi.
And of course, this being Sweden, there's a snug wood-panelled sauna just down the corridor.