I had a couple options for my last night in Stockholm. I’d done Stockholm part one, been to Copenhagen, and had an unlikely stop in Järna, and now I had one more night to plan.
“Stockholm strange hotels?” I asked Google.
“Yeah, we got you,” Google replied.
I briefly considered Jumbo Stay, on account of I could have slept inside a fucking jet engine, but the location was the clincher. My flight wasn’t until 3:30 on Monday afternoon, and while I knew I’d arrive semi-freakishly early, I didn’t want to wake up at the airport.
(I did pass it on the highway, and despite being airport adjacent, it is a surreal thing to see a 747 so close to the road.)
So I chose the “strange hotel” Google yielded for me: Af Chapman, a hostel partially based on a boat moored on Skeppsholmen, one of the city’s museum-filled islands. I made sure they had private rooms, and once that was assured, I was sold. For about $65, I secured a private room with a shared bathroom. Not all the rooms are on the boat, as more lodging is in the building across the street, where breakfast, laundry, lockers, and other useful things can also be found. But I crossed my fingers and, fresh from Järna, made my way to the ship.
I’d walked right by it earlier in my trip, but I was busy being in that phase of things – where is the museum, where is the ferry – so I didn’t check it out. Instead, as I walked up, bag-laden in the way that happens eight days into a trip abroad, I saw a boat and thought, Please let that be it.
It was. And, better still, my room was ready for me, despite it only being just past noon. (There are perks to traveling in the off season.) Enormously relieved, as I’d already been awake for about seven hours at that point, I flounced across the street and into my room…
“Shytter” is Swedish for “quarter.”
The more you know.
The Af Chapman is not wheelchair accessible, and it would be difficult for anyone much taller than I am – at 5’8″, I did fine in this bed, but friends 5’11” or taller would probably have felt like aggressively folded origami by the time morning came.
Still, adorable, right? All those drawers, plus a little step up – I felt like I was mounting a horse. That bed was at about chest height on me.
The better to see through the porthole at the end of the bed, as it turned out.
I woke up around six am the night I stayed there, first by the low creak of the shifting rigging of this 1888 naval ship, and then… ice. Sheets of ice, dragging along the hull, so beautiful in the thin light of the dawn that I sat so still you would’ve thought I was afraid of scaring it off.
That porthole could be opened too – I tried and then quickly realized that was not a great idea in February. In Stockholm. Surprise.
The room also included a sink and a cute li’l desk next to the second porthole, where I wrote postcards on my last morning, only some of which were headed, “Captain’s log, 22 February 2016.”
And then: land ho.
Breakfast was good, but it is well established now that I like an included Scandinavian breakfast. It was strange to come from my fairly empty ship to the main hostel building, filled with 18-year-old Italians and the guy 50 years older than everyone else and staid older couples taking a nice, long trip and… me. Lockers and laundry and hostel business.
I preferred my vessel.
I did the math. It wouldn’t be hugely more expensive to live on this boat than to live in my fine Oakland abode. I’m sure the cats would get used to it.
In the meantime, if you go to Stockholm and aren’t too attached to predictable lodging, go go go to Af Chapman. It’s relatively inexpensive, extremely conveniently located, and a remarkable buoy of mood. I’m sad today. But… oh shit, remember when I slept on a boat in Stockholm and watched dawn creep over the thin ice of the harbor and I was snug in bed and had an unobstructed view of one of the world’s prettiest cities?
Yeah. That was pretty great.