A Jumbo Experience in Stockholm
Enjoying a bed on a Boeing 747 would normally involve great expense purchasing a First Class ticket – but not in Stockholm where the unique experience of sleeping on a plane overnight and not moving an inch was enjoyed as preparation for a trip to this beautiful water-filled city.
Imagine your plane is delayed overnight and the airport benches threaten to straighten your back in the wrong way, or unfortunately you have developed an extreme fear of flying. Well, surprisingly all these could be remedied by spending a night on board a jumbo jet.
Known as the Jumbo Hostel, this stationary former passenger jet has begun celebrating two years of grounded success. The plane, having been built almost 35 years ago, now enjoys the luxury of not having to fight off modern designs such as the all-suite Burj Al Arab in Dubai (designed in the shape of a sail) or fall into obscurity like the high rise hotels of the 1970s.
After years of service for initially Singapore and then Pan American Airlines, this Boeing 747-200 last touched down in the hands of Swedish company Transjet in 2002. Unfortunately, its final owners fell into bankruptcy and the plane was seemingly destined for the scrapheap before businessman Oscar Dios became the new captain, but it wasn’t flying he was interested in.
Rumoured to have been bought for a similar amount as the average family-sized Stockholm house, the former Pan Am giant began renovation in January 2008 with 450 seats being torn out. Just a year later the newly-named Liv (after Dios’ daughter) finally took off and it wasn’t long before it was soaring high in the hotel industry being nominated for “Best Hotel Novelty of the Year” in 2009.
As you arrive at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, passport in hand, you are given the freedom of the runway and the only thing standing between you and boarding a former Pan American plane is a rather steep staircase.
Although you are asked to remove your shoes at the entrance, this at least is more consistent than airport security checks and it is essentially the quality of your stay they are catering to. In fairness you are required to show your passports upon boarding but here is where the similarities end between this and those long-haul overnight flights to the southern hemisphere.
The oxygen masks behind the reception desk are a shock at first, but this is easily pushed to the back of the mind as you are guided to your room along a corridor that once was brimming with air hostesses serving your every needs. There is no such on-board service on this plane, but it is not often that you get the chance to stretch your legs out comfortably without invariably irritating the passenger behind you.
At six square metres there is space enough in the room for a bunk hosting a double and single bed. Inevitably in line with the style of this incredibly innovative idea, the once overhead lockers now act as cupboards.
If you happen to be sharing one of the 27 rooms and are woken during the night (not by turbulence mind), then there is no need to worry about waking your dorm-mates to loosen your legs – the bedroom offers ample space to stretch any stiff muscles.
When searching for other facilities then it is simply a short walk to the tail to reveal six shower pods and communal sink areas – heaven if you consider this used to be considered sufficient for around 400 jumbo passengers.
Sleeping as part of the economy class at Jumbo Stay means that above you lies only the cockpit. For the two lucky passengers at the helm of the plane, instead of liaising with air traffic control they can watch work their wonders from this romantic penthouse offering phenomenal panoramic views of the world on the move.
Back in economy class, dawn brings with it the realisation that you are not on the other side of the world as you gaze out of the cabin window at the hustle and bustle of Arlanda Airport. However, if you really are heading somewhere, put your feet up in front of your personal flat screen television, showcasing, amongst others, live departure and arrival information.
Alternatively, head down to the breakfast room where childishly colourful cutlery awaits to aid your simple start to the day.
Just a few minutes away from the intimate atmosphere of this retro-style hotel is the rat race of an international airport. The Jumbo Hostel is a holiday in itself where despite boarding a plane, the aggravation of customs and security control is worlds apart and if you desperately crave an adrenaline rush then take a stroll along the observation deck, aka the wing.
The true beauty of this creation is boarding a plane and waking up the next day in the same country, and even the same spot, and feeling like you’ve flown to the moon and back.
To get there is as simple as arriving at the airport and either taking a 5 minute shuttle bus or having a gentle stroll in preparation for the nightime flight aboard the former Jumbo Jet. SAS flies up to eight times a day from Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda, whilst British Airways are not too far behind with as many as five times a day and Norwegian often offer a cheaper price flying from both Edinburgh and Gatwick to Arlanda. There are of course the options of Ryanair from Stansted and Gatwick to Stockholm Skavsta and Vasteras but these airports are not useful for reaching the Jumbo Hostel. To reach Stockholm centre, there are high speed trains every 20 minutes (The Arlanda Express - 20 minute journey and prices do vary from season to season) whilst Flygbus offer a cheaper alternative with a 40 minute journey time (approximately 198 Swedish Kronar if bought online).
If you're not a lover of snowball fights and wrapping up to brave the cold, then stay away from Stockholm during the winter months, but the city does have a beautiful look and feel to it in the snow, especially the frozen lakes and estuaries leading to the archipelago. The summer's aren't sunbathing weather but the clear skies and starry nights and enchanting, whilst the midsummer's festival and the period around it offers the chance to see the sun all day long.
Other than the Jumbo Hostel, which could be either the grand opening to your Swedish experience or the finale, there are a plethora of museums from the 17th Century royal warship Vasa to the open-air Skansen, designed to provide visitors with an insight into how people lived pre-industrialisation. A boat trip along the arrchipelago is a must, whilst Gamla Stan's protected buildings are a joy to wander around.
HOSTELBOOKERS OFFER EXCELLENT RATES AT THE JUMBO HOSTEL FOR GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS