Lonely Planet Writer

Inside Stockholm's floating hostel: how a 19th century ship became 21st century accommodation

A fully-rigged 19th century steel ship is celebrating almost 70 years as a youth hostel in Stockholm. The af Chapman is located on the banks of Skeppsholmen Island and is one of the Swedish city’s most famous landmarks. Guests can stay in one of its cabins for an authentic seafaring experience, or at Hantverkshsuet, the 18th century former navy barracks next door.

The AF Chapman hostel in Stockholm. Image: Johan Sjolander
The AF Chapman hostel in Stockholm. Image: Johan Sjolander

Having been built as a cargo ship in 1888 in England, the now anchored boat became a hostel along with the house in 1947 and is managed by the Swedish Tourist Association.

There are communal facilities available both on the boat and in the house, and during the summer, guests can visit the ship’s bar and bistro. There is also a café open all year ’round at the house, and between the two locations, they can accommodate almost 300 guests.

A post shared by af_chapman (@af_chapman) on

The ship is named after Swedish shipbuilder, Fredrik Henrik af Chapman. Many of its original nautical features were preserved when it was transformed into a hostel, including its mast and portholes. Guests love to sit on the deck and enjoy a beverage while taking in the sights. It underwent another complete renovation between 2007 and 2008, and its interior has changed significantly since 1949.

A post shared by af_chapman (@af_chapman) on

The ship was originally owned by Irish company R. Martin and Company, who christened her Dunboyne. She sailed all over the world as a cargo ship and was sold to Norway in 1908. She was renamed af Chapman when she was acquired by the Swedish Navy, who used her as a training ship.

She also served as a barracks ship during World War II. She sailed her last voyage in the 1930s and was subsequently sold to Stockholm City Council. It took up a suggestion that she could become a youth hostel.

A post shared by af_chapman (@af_chapman) on

She has since become both a landmark and a very popular place for travellers to stay. For further information on af Chapman and Hantverkshsuet, see here.