'Sleeping on the plane' takes on new meaning in Stockholm

That decommissioned Boeing 747 at Arlanda airport isn't scrap: It's a hostel.

Lioba Schneider/Courtesy of Jumbo Hostel
A look out the cockpit of the Jumbo Stay hostel.
Courtesy of Jumbo Hostel
A Jumbo Stay room.

Getting on a plane after having spent the previous twelve hours flying around the world feels like an absurdist endeavor. But even in a non-jetlagged state, I am impervious to kitsch.

So why not spend the night in a hostel built into a decommissioned Boeing 747 located on a non-working runway in Stockholm? You had me at “significantly cheaper than all the other hotels in the area.”  (A regular visitor to the area, I’ve come to realize that all my Scandinavian travels are accompanied by sticker shock.)

The Jumbo Stay Hostel sits at the edge of Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, surrounded by a tangle of wildflowers. (Take your Mad Max-like vision and add a twist of Ikea.) As I took the short, free transit-bus ride away from the main terminal, I spent the time questioning my frugally motivated decision. The Swedish, have perfected pop (ABBA), affordable clothing (H&M), and attractive DNA (a percentage of the population too high to tabulate), but aren’t exactly noted for their sense of whimsy.

Decked out in Pan Am blue (the plane was once part of Pan Am's fleet), the interior maintains a strong sense of its former occupation. In the name of both ambiance and functionality, everything about the hostel is small. So much so, most of the twenty-seven rooms are tiny enough to warrant bunk beds and overhead luggage compartments. (The majority come sans bathroom – although it should be noted that the communal shower/toilet stalls are impeccable.)

I come from a line of vertically unimpressive people. Even so, my head found its way into a fair share of sharp corners, and my spine went crooked attempting to slouch into the café’s tiny orange chairs. On the upside, there’s an outdoor lounge built onto one of the wings, and numerous porthole-style windows. (This far north, summer sun is meant to be appreciated.)

More space can be bought. Those feeling flush can opt for the cockpit suite – an upstairs luxury room that features not only the plane’s original navigation instruments, but also an exclusive lounge (complete with plane seats), and patio.

But doing so would be to miss interacting with the hostel’s international blend of visitors. From the small Japanese girl giggling with her parents over breakfast (a blend of cheeses, meets, and breads and jams), to the German backpackers, to the Swiss woman I shared my dorm-style accommodations with, there was an immediate sense of camaraderie.

It may just be one night in one plane, but hey – Jumbo Stay had a way of reminding us that we’re all in it together. 

[Editor's note: The original version misspelled the author's first name.]

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