Clarion Hotel Sense is not only the best hotel in Luleå. If you want to put together a top ten, ranking restaurants, spa and hotels in Luleå, Clarion Hotel Sense will undoubtedly reach the top!

The spa at Clarion Hotel Sense in Swedish Luleå.
37 degrees in the water and panoramic windows over the sunset and icebreakers in Norra Haven. Try tearing your eyes away from this. Really, just try! Image: Bobo Olsson.

Incoming air traffic rarely calms you down. But on this clear and beautiful early spring day in Bottenviken watching the planes come in is a soothing activity. Here and there you can spot roads, rocks and skerries - and in the distance, Luleå. The old steel town, which today prides itself with a high-ranking technical university, culture displays in the Norrbotten Theatre and, of course, ice hockey. But most importantly a certain hotel - one of Sweden's best.

Clarion Hotel Sense opened in December 2013, and was a large investment when it was built. It's a full service hotel, boasting a spa, amazing conference facilities, restaurant and two bars. It was Luleå's most important meeting place already from the beginning.

"It's hard to tear your eyes away from the panoramic windows displaying a glowing evening sky..."

An hour after checking in, I'm relaxing in the half a meter deep pool, which holds a constant 37 degrees celsius, in the hotel spa. It's hard to tear your eyes away from the panoramic windows displaying a glowing evening sky over Norra Haven, where the icebreaker boats Atle, Frej, Odin and Ymer rest at bay. For 20 minutes the sky's natural fireworks sparkle from bright pink to dark orange. In the meantime, my tired body forgets about the busy day of travelling, and I find myself refreshed and relaxed.

Clarion Hotel Sense bar at dusk_1_1 The cocktail bar is preparing for the evening. On weekends yet another bar opens up. Image: Bobo Olsson

Upon entering the lobby you are met by an enormous installation of designer lamps. The installation binds the lobby together with the conference facilities upstairs, and creates a sense of grandeur. But the most noticeable feature is that the lights constantly change colours. Colours inspired by the seasons. This is a theme that has been meticulously incorporated throughout the hotel, and one that I get a clear sense of yet again while finishing up my spa ritual. One of the showers is designed to take you through the seasons. And for five long wonderful minutes I get to experience light summer rain, the dew of fall, sweet spring droplets and refreshing winter showers. After the shower I can barely find my own pulse. The sense effect has struck and the only thought I can muster is that this is a ritual I need to experience again.

Löjrom with Hasselback potatoes, a classic dish in the north of Sweden_16_9 Local Løjrom from Kalix, hasselback almond potatoes and smetana. Image: Bobo Olsson.

Restaurant waiter Clarion Hotel Sense_16_9 The popular grilled butcher's steak coming out from the kitchen. Image: Bobo Olsson.

One of the engines that truly promotes the hotel, is the ninth floor. On the weekends the restaurant fills up all 200 seats, and the guests are invited into a feast of local produce and dishes, like moose steak tartare with quail eggs and dried rowanberries, local lean Løjrom with toppings, or the classic grilled butcher's steak with perfectly whipped berbere bearnaise. Today is Monday, yet Luleå residents and hotel guests alike are seated for dinner and a cocktail carefully mixed together at one of the top floor bars. You find yourself imagining that you are dining in a considerably larger town than Luleå. While checking in I was tipped off about having breakfast as early as 7 am, "that's when the breakfast is at its most wonderful" one of the regular guests tuned in.

Bartender at Clarion Hotel Sense_1_1 Restaurant manager Emin Zeynalov shakes up a Vodka Fizz. Image: Bobo Olsson.

The morning after is just as beautiful as the night before. The Norrlandish yellowy pink sun rises slowly, throwing its beautiful colours onto the ice. The fresh Belgian waffles with cloudberries are like a gastronomic dream. Even this trade Clarion Hotel Sense has mastered. In 2016 the Clarion Hotel Sense breakfast was rated the best of all Strawberry. It's a great hotel to wake up at!

Text: Per Olsson

This article was first published in Nights Magazine #12, 2017

Designer lamps at Clarion Hotel Sense.

Clarion Hotel Sense - a summary

  • 154 rooms
  • 15 meeting rooms for up to 500 guests
  • Lobby bar
  • Cocktail bar
  • The only Kitchen & Table restaurant listed in the White Guide
  • Spa with treatments
  • Gym