We recommend you go to this ‘Venice of the north’ in either sunny mid-summer or snowy mid-winter. It isn’t cheap (even compared to London), but it is very easy to get around, everybody speaks English and you are sure to eat some delicious, fresh food. Here are our top tips:
Hotels: Ett Hem, Sköldungagatan 2 114 27 (www.etthemstockholm.se)
This beautifully decorated hotel just opened in May 2012 and if you’re looking for a luxurious, comfortable home-away-from-home, then this is the place to stay. Situated in an old townhouse in Ostermalm (it’s a 15 minute walk to the waterfront), there are only 12 rooms all designed by Ilse Crawford. The food is delicious, served either in the kitchen, dining room or garden when it is warm and it’s the attention to detail that really makes it feel so special: from the Spotify lists ready to play in your room on i-Pads to the afternoon cake, baked freshly every day. It even won Tyler Brule’s rave review in the FT – see his review here.
Hotels: The Lydmar Hotel, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2, 111 48 (www.lydmar.com)
Sitting right on the waterfront, opposite the Royal Palace on Gamla Stan, this modern, hip but comfortable hotel is a great place to stay. It is extremely central, has very friendly, helpful staff and a fun bar/restaurant. In the summer, make sure you have a drink on the terrace which looks out over the water. NB There is no sign outside but it’s the building next door to the Grand Hotel.
Hotels: AF Chapman (www.stfchapman.com)
This hostel on a boat probably isn’t for you if you’re planning to stay for weeks in Stockholm but for a long w/e, it is extremely conveniently located beside the old town. A rebuilt traditional white schooner, it is comfortable, clean and above all, cheap.
Shopping and Eating: Saluhall, Östermalmstorg, 114 39 (www.saluhallen.com)
This wonderful indoor food hall, which opened in 1888 and is located in the traditional Östermalm section of the city, is a must for both food lovers and tourists. Even if you don’t stop by to have coffee or lunch (we recommend Lisa Elmqvist’s stall and restaurant for the excellent fish selection), the over-flowing stalls of vegetables, pastries and chocolates are enough to make your mouth water.
Shopping: Svenskt Tenn, StrandvÃ¤gen 5, 114 51 (www.svenksttenn.se)
Founded in 1924, this Swedish interior design shop sells colourful, quirky, craft-inspired designs by founder Estrid Ericson and design partner Josef Frank. From lighting to wallpaper, from matches to sofas, the designs (all made in Sweden) are extremely popular and although they aren’t exactly cheap, they are certainly classics.
One of the best vintage shops in Stockholm, it’s definitely worth making your way to Södermalm where the trendy, young Stockholmers hang out, to find clothes by YSL and Christian Dior. Stop by Sofo Cafe (www.sofocafe.se) or Cafe String (www.cafestring.com) for fika (coffee and a bun) or have lunch at Pelikan (www.pelikan.se), an old beer hall, for a traditional Swedish meal. If you’d rather stick to modern labels, then take the train to Jakobsberg and then a quick bus (no 567) to the Stockholm Quality Discount Outlet, about 30 minutes outside of the city. Here you will find heavily discounted (from 30-70%) clothes at Acne (which has great jeans from only 400 kronor), Filippa K (one of Sweden’s most successful designers) and Peak Performance (great for skiwear and outdoor clothes).
Step back in time to how Sweden used to be in the eighteenth century at Skansen, the world’s oldest outdoor museum and zoo. There is a pottery, bakery and traditional crafts such as glass blowing and at Christmas there is a traditional food market. It sounds touristy (and there are plenty around) but it does have a magical charm to it. If you’d rather visit an organic garden, try Rosdendals Trädgård, which has a delicious restaurant for lunch.
Indoor Museums: Vasa, Galärvarvsvägen 14 11521 (www.vasamuseet.se) National, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2, 111 48 (www.nationalmuseum.se), Modern, Skeppsholmen (www.modernamuseet.se) & Fotografisca, 22 Stadsgårdshamnen 11645 (www.fotografisca.eu)
There are some fantastic museums in Stockholm but if you were only going to visit one, it would have to be the 17th century fully preserved ship known as Vasa. The 69 meter warship sunk in 1628 and was salvaged 333 years later. The museum allows you to look at all levels of the ship as well as stand in awe of her detail and size. The National, Modern and newly opened Fotografica museums are all very good. The National, which has a great selection of older Swedish paintings and Modern are very close to each other, whilst the Fotografisca is over on Södermalm. All four museums have excellent cafés for lunch, especially the Fotografica which has brilliant views of Stockholm across the water.
Eating: Riddarbageriet Bakery, Riddargatan 15, 114 57
You can’t come to Sweden without tasting Swedish bread. From limpa to saffron buns, they are all extremely more-ish. Riddarbageriet is famous for it’s great sourdough bread and knackerbread crackers, which even Jamie Oliver raved about when he visited Stockholm last year.
Eating: Saturnus, Eriksbergsgatan 6, 114 30 (www.cafesaturnus.se)
This little café is hidden away up a side street about 5 minutes from the centre of Stockholm and it sells the best (and the biggest) cinnamon buns in town. Run by Italians, it has a laid back atmosphere (the Royal Princesses are known to frequent it), great coffee and delicious food.
Eating: PA & Co, Riddargatan 8, 114 35 and Le Rouge, BrunnsgrÃ¤nd 2, 111 30 (www.lerouge.se)
Whilst lunch can be a cheaper, early (often served between 12 and 2pm) affair, dinner is often later and a far more expensive occasion. It can therefore be a good idea to go to the more expensive restaurants for lunch (Operabaren (www.operakallaren.se) or Matbaren at the Grand hotel for example (www.mathiasdahlgren.com). For a fun night out, we love either PA & Co, a people-watching bistro or if you are after something more romantic, try the red velvet seated Teater Grillen (Teater Grillen). Follow this by drinks in summer at F12 (www.f12.se) outside on the roof terrace or if it is in winter, inside at the newly refurbished Riche (www.riche.se).
Shopping: Bukowski online auctions (www.bukowskismarket.com)
Even if you are only in Stockholm for a few days, it is well worth looking up the Bukowski online auctions to see if you can pick up a Scandinavian bargain whilst you are in town. They have mid-century modern furniture, nineteenth century paintings and a huge array of silverware, jewellery and ornaments. Surprisingly, they are fairly cheap and if it doesn’t fit in your suitcase, you can always arrange to have it shipped back separately.
And finally…take a boat trip to the archipelago
If you are in Stockholm during the summer and have some time on your hands, then walk along the harbour side near the Grand Hotel and book tickets to take a trip to the archipelago. Even if you only have a couple of hours, you can go as far as the first main island, Vaxholm, to have lunch and go for a swim in the beautiful clear water. If you’re short of time or want something a little less sedate, then take a rib boat for a quick, exhilarating ride out around the islands.