I always knew I would fall for Stockholm. I’ve long been an admirer of all things Scandinavian (an affection that pre-dates the Swedish media storm kick-started by the Millennium Trilogy), from design to fashion – especially the Swedish play on proportions, drapery and layering by brands such as Whyred, Acne, House of Dagmar and jeweller Maria Nilsdotter.
When I first visited in 2009, my heart was lost from the start. It was a four-day jaunt at the beginning of an incredibly and unusually hot July. I spent those days exploring the city by foot, delighting in finding independent boutiques and cafés in Södermalm, the young, arty area located south of the historic centre, Gamla Stan. It is a place to lose oneself in, if only to make glorious discoveries, from the vintage couture gems in Lisa Larsson’s boutique to the swaths of crisp new jeans in the Nudie concept store, aka the Swedish denim Mecca.
I now go to the city twice a year for Stockholm Fashion Week, and as a result my priorities have shifted a little. I spend less time in Söder (as it is colloquially known) because I casually amble less and have work to focus on. But if I am in an arty mood, I like staying at the wonderful Hotel Skeppsholmen (second picture, from £150 per night) on Museum Island. Housed in a 1699 building, it has minimalist chic interiors designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune (the first Swedish architect to exhibit in the Venice Architecture Biennale, in 2004), impeccable service, breathtaking views of the sea and heavenly Byredo toiletries from the Stockholm-based fragrance house.
For location, however, my favourite choice is Berns Hotel (third picture, rooms from £160 per night), which overlooks Berzelli Park in the upmarket area of Östermalm. Berns is a classic, historic hotel with a modern twist. Right in the heart of the shopping district, it’s within walking distance of both the fabulous Nordiska Kompaniet (known as NK) department store, as well as the high-end designer boutiques Mrs H and Nathalie Schuterman, with their exquisitely curated selection of Prada, Céline, Chloé, Christopher Kane and Isabel Marant.
For dining, I recommend Nosh & Chow, a multicultural fusion food experience (pick dishes from Peru, the Alps or North Africa, for example) served in a luxe industrial-meets-colonial, Soho House-ish setting. Grill (first picture) is another favourite, with its extensive grilled meats menu and kitsch-fabulous fairytale-kingdom decor.
Those prepared for sub-zero temperatures and a hefty dose of snow may choose to visit in winter, but I’d recommend a trip in the coming months – late spring – or, even better, for the summer solstice (midsommar), to celebrate the pinnacle of the warmest season in style.