By Susan Harte
By Susan Harte
Hotels are plentiful in Stockholm – from the very grand waterfront icon of Hotel Diplomat opposite the old town, or the new and very stylish Miss Hotel Clara, but my favourite, a hotel we wrote about two years ago, is Ett Hem. It occupies a grand old house in the embassy area of Stockholm, an easy 15 minute walk from the waterfront. This 12 room hotel designed by my all time favourite interior designer, Ilse Crawford, is everything you want in a hotel: small, intimate, cosy in winter, and it feels as if you are staying with an incredibly stylish friend. Our gabled attic room with sheepskin armchairs, sleek, mid-century furniture, views over rooftops and tables of hyacinth and daffodil bulbs galore is so wonderful I could have easily stayed in my room… but the delights of Stockholm beckon.
Eating in Stockholm can become a major preoccupation; the streets are filled with delicious smells of fresh cooked buns and gingerbread, coffee and mulled wine – all good to warm you up in near freezing temperatures.
You will be spoilt for choice for good coffee and fantastic cinnamon rolls – a few favourites are Green Rabbit and Fabrique – which I have very happily discovered can now be found on the Portobello Road in London.
The old town was our first destination. Cobbled streets, stores with glowing lights, colourful wooden toy shops, florists everywhere with bucket loads of moss and bulging bulbs, fir wreaths , and store after store of fabulous Swedish design.
Across the river there is water everywhere and so many bridges and islands to cross. The Moderna Museet is set on a hill and always has world class exhibitions. Olafur Eliasson was currently on when we visited, along with a very strong Picasso, Duchamp, Dali, Klimt collection. Dining there at their Ikea type café is reasonable and full of fresh healthy looking salads, and a great view back over the old town.
Another great eatery, Pubologi, despite its odd sounding name, is a very fashionable, fun spot to eat in the old town. Equally on trend is PA & Co in the Ostermalm area; it is a tightly packed restaurant with friendly staff and very fashionable, but not achingly so, clientele who all seem to know each other, which makes it feel like you are at a party. Maybe one where you don’t actually know anyone, but a party all the same. Fantastic food, good wines and fun.
If you feel like something more traditional, just up the road is the Ostermalmshallen, one of the world’s top ten food markets. All under cover – and you will find it difficult to choose your lunch – from platters of oysters, seafood, roll mops to hams and cheeses, tartes, chocolate…. Sit up at one of the many stalls, enjoy a wine or two or a good Swedish beer and take your pick – seafood definitely its forte and definitely no good for those on a diet.
After all this walking, eating and wafting aromas of coffee and cinnamon, the skies are starting to darken and candles are flickering – and its only about 2 pm. So it’s time to hit the shops. Oh and there are so many to choose from. So as not to bamboozle you, I have chosen just a few that are worth getting your map out for and start walking. Nothing is terribly far, but with good planning you should be able to get them all in ….
Starting with what would have to be my favourite – which goes back to my love of swedish Josef Frank fabric from the 1940’s, is Svenkst Tenn – a small department type store, contained in three buildings alongside each other, down on the very stylish waterfront main street of Ostermalm. Founded in 1924, it now houses high quality 21st century design together with furniture, accessories and for the likes of me, rooms of rolls of the colourful, bright, Josef Frank fabrics. And there is a small café on the first floor, complete with gingham red curtains – so very swedish.
Garbo Interiors – a subdued colour palette of fashionable greys and whites – this eclectic mix of hand picked furniture comes in both old and new – very shabby chic. To something very sleek – the best of Scandinavian and international vintage design 1900-2000 try Jackson Design.
Walles och walles sells timeless classics, their own line of furniture as well as imported textiles and artefacts. For those seeking smaller bits and pieces to get into suitcases, there are endless super design stores – Designtorget was a favourite and even their department stores are fabulous: try NK Stockholm – selling modern light shades, woollen slippers, sleek raincoats to groovy paper clip holders!
I have only just touched on Stockholm – it is a stylish, modern, historical fascinating city with a burgeoning food scene and I plan to head back when I can indulge my Pippy Longstocking dreams of gingham curtains and lemonade trees in Sweden’s summer time, and I haven’t even started on Abba.