In a gloriously green, fresh-air city surrounded by water, it can be hard to find the serenity which is the secret weapon of the most beautiful capital in Scandinavia.

Enter the Skeppsholmen Hotel, which offers peace, quiet and high design just a 10-minute stroll from Stockholm's bustling city centre. In a city full of smart places to stay, it's the only one of its calibre which is also a secret island hideaway.

The former 17th century Royal Marine barracks is now a member of Design Hotels, but its comforts are pleasingly muted. Rooms are spacious, overlooking water or woodland, with acres of wood floor and state-of-the-art bathrooms with illuminated showers and giant faux pebbles for sinks.

Most rooms come with a sofa, stylish armchairs, free-standing full length mirror and big, comfortable beds dressed with fine linen and luxurious throws.

The restaurant serves an excellent breakfast incorporating the world's best bread and fine local produce including gravadlax, dispenses cappuccinos during the day, and with the adjacent bar becomes a lively hub by night. "Social dining" is encouraged - they hope that visitors from all over the world will mingle with each other and the sophisticated locals who frequent this affluent part of the city.

There's an outdoor tennis court right on the water -Sweden's first, built by the king in 1882 - and a gym, though frankly it's much more interesting to stroll five minutes to the fantastic Museum of Modern Art on the hotel's doorstep and then on to the city. Or take the ferry in one direction to Djurgarden, Stockholm's playground island housing both Skansen, an alfresco presentation of rural Swedish life through the ages, and the highly entertaining new Abba Museum.

In the other direction, the ferry goes to Slussen, where the picturesque old town meets Sodermalm, Stockholm's answer to Notting Hill, awash with trendy boutiques and cafes.

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