Stockholm has a world-leading design scene, picture-book palaces and an enviable berth in the waters of an idyllic archipelago – so it’s an easy city to fall for. But it’s more than just looks that grace this place; there’s also a crop of new restaurants that has brought variety to a once one-dimensional food scene. In the hotel industry too, recent openings have upstaged the staid options, while shops teem with Swedish-made goodies and fashion-forward brands.

Need to know

Get to grips with the basics

  1. Talking points: Swedes are for the most part flawless (yet occasionally shy) English speakers; be patient and polite and you will be understood.
  2. Hot and cold: Stockholm’s winters are long and cold so shop and restaurant owners spend more on appealing interiors. Summers, by contrast, are effervescent, short and celebrated. Pack for the season.
  3. Cab concerns: Taxis are unregulated in Sweden so a company can choose to charge you whatever it likes per kilometre. Look up and call a specific company or hail an app-powered alternative.
  4. To their credit: Tap-and-go card payment is ubiquitous. Most taxis allow you to pay with plastic, as do a surprising proportion of shops and restaurants.
  5. Bare truths: A hug is preferred to a kiss on first meeting (though a shake is often required in more formal circles) and straight talking preferred to the more dramatic greetings common in southern Europe.

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Hotels

Hospitality at its finest

  1. At Six, Norrmalm

    Tasteful number

    Its 343 rooms (43 of them suites) sport a sooty palette, with long emerald-coloured Carrara marble desks and Alcantara wardrobes that the designers were asked to make capacious enough to hold a Nobel Gala gown.

  2. Hotel Skeppsholmen, Skeppsholmen

    Never mind the barracks

    Many of the pastel-hued buildings that make up this 78-room hotel are former military barracks that were built in 1699. Södermalm firm Claesson Koivisto Rune has preserved the finishes.

  3. Nobis Hotel, Norrmalm

    Top location

    Nobis sits on the equivalent of London’s Park Lane or Mayfair: Norrmalmstorg Square. Its 201 rooms are generous in size and festooned with dark-wood floors and comfy Duxiana beds.

Vocabulary

Local lingo

  1. Förlåt: Sorry
  2. Härligt: Wonderful
  3. Hej: Hello
  4. Hejdå: Goodbye
  5. Lagom: Not too little, not too much
  6. Precis: Exactly
  7. Ska vi fika?: Shall we have a coffee?
  8. Skål: Cheers
  9. Ta det lugnt: Take it easy
  10. Tack: Thank you

Food and drink

Smart bites and top stops

  1. Babette, Vasastan

    Pizza perfection

    Residents flock here for a delectable marriage of Italian, French and Swedish food. The pizzas are as good as their Neapolitan rivals and best prefaced with the lemoned almonds.

  2. Bröderna Svedman, Vasastan

    Veggie table

    Brothers Per and Ola Svedman are primarily known for fresh fruit and vegetables but there’s also a counter where you can sit and enjoy something delicious – and organic – to eat.

  3. Kafé Konditori Valand, Vasastan

    Enduring love

    In 1954 Stellan Åström designed and opened a café and hired a young Polish woman to work there. More than 60 years later Magdalena, who became Mrs Åström, still comes in each week to bake an array of traditional Swedish pastries.

  4. Café Pascal, Vasastan

    Family affair

    The superlative brew here is sourced from Lund-based Love Coffee Roasters; modest but excellent food completes the offering. Few patrons take their coffee to go: the atmosphere is as much of an attraction as the black stuff.

  5. Bleck, Södermalm

    Park it

    Sat in Lilla Blecktornsparken, this restaurant-bar’s main allure is the rustic terrace; perched under a towering oak tree and softly lit by twinkling fairy lights, it sees Stockholmers clinking glasses until 01.00 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Retail

Shop talk

  1. Austere at Alma, Östermalm

    Fully furnished

    Parquet flooring and blue walls set a tasteful tone for what’s within, including Richard Palmquist ceramics, the w171 Alma pendant by Wästberg and angular Arrow tables from founder Fredrik Carlström and designer Erik Järkil.

  2. Triwa, Östermalm

    Timely endeavour

    In 2007 four friends created a range of Stockholm-made timepieces with leather straps from Swedish tannery Tärnsjö Garveri. Their pink Elding Oscarson-designed shop opened in 2014 and also stocks the brand’s sunglasses.

  3. Appletrees, Norrmalm

    Shirt shrift

    All the shirts here are made from Egyptian cotton in a factory just outside Milan. The shop also stocks accessories, including Mulberry silk scarves and Japanese selvedge denim jeans.

  4. Saman Amel, Östermalm

    Keeping it simple

    This atelier doesn’t look like your average tailor. Inside a white room its founders Saman Amel and Dag Granath are surrounded by grey double-breasted blazers and crisp white shirts. Their pieces are handmade in Italy, with tweaks in Stockholm.

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