The best of Stockholm
Sunday 12 September 2004
Only a two-and-a-half hour flight from the UK, the Scandinavian capital is frequently associated with winter holidays, but autumn is the perfect time to visit: the light is long and low, the air is still warm and the archipelago of islands which forms its cityscape is still an intense green and blue. For years, Stockholm - the cleanest city on the planet - has had the reputation of being modishly cool. You know a place is at the top of the fashionable map when style guru Tyler Brulésets up home there.
The Grand Hotel (00 468 679 3500; www.grandhotel.se) is the smartest address in town. Sweden's only five-star dates from 1874 and has an imposing position right on the waterfront. Royalty, heads of state, A-list stars, and since 1901, the Nobel prize laureates and their families have all holed up here. Look out for the Nobel and Flag suites on the seventh floor, which have amazing views over the city, and the 18-carat gold leaf Hall of Mirrors. Doubles from Skr1,694 (£126) on a room-only basis.
If boutique hotels are your style, book into Berns Hotel (00 46 8 566 32200; www.berns.se). A complete entertainment complex, Berns' famous glittering music hall has attracted top-class acts from Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich to Alicia Keys and Isaac Hayes. The 65 chic rooms are individually designed and far enough away from the pulsing basement nightclub. Doubles from Skr2,150 (£160) including breakfast.
Tre Små Rum (00 468 641 2371; www.tresmarum.se), in the heart of the trendy Sodermalm district, has only six rooms and feels like a home from home. Doubles from Skr695 (£52) including breakfast, made by guests.
For lunch, the place to see and be seen is on the Grand Veranda at the Grand Hotel (as before). Tuck into a tasty smorgasbord which includes, herring, gravlax, salads and meatballs. About Skr475 (£35) per head for four courses including a glass of champagne.
Berns Salonger (00 468 566 32222) is a truly palatial dining experience now run by Sir Terence Conran. Expect high style, great service and fairly decent food, such as chantererelle toast followed by duck breast with grilled salsifies, cherry and red onion salsa. Around Skr630 (£50) per head for three courses including wine.
For a view of the city, take the lift to Gondolen (00 468 641 7090), the rooftop restaurant and bar serving first-class cuisine such as sole flecked with lobster and a buttery dill-lobster sauce. About Skr738 (£55) for three courses including wine.
Best cultural attraction
Go now and you can visit the marvellous Moderna Museet (modern art museum), which is back in its avant-garde home on the island of Skeppsholmen, after years of major refurbishment.
The Vasa Museum (www.vasamuseet.se) houses the royal ship that sank in Stockholm harbour on her maiden voyage in 1628. Salvaged in 1961, it is now theatrically displayed and lit.
In October, an Andy Warhol retrospective opens at the Liljevalchs Konsthall (www.liljevalchs.com).
H&M has designer fashion at high street prices. For design and homeware, make for Svenskt Tenn, Strandvagen 5, founded in 1924, and stores such as Nordiska Galleriet on Nyborgatan. Tyler Brulé rates the NK department store, Bookbinders Design for stationery and TioGruppen for fabric.
Stroll round the central islands that are linked by bridges and ferries, taking in the neoclassical buildings, or hop aboard one of the old steamers and cruise around the archipelago. Stop on the attractive island of Vaxholm.
The cool crowd hangs out in Berns Salonger, Berzelii Park (as before) and dances beneath the cut-glass chandeliers in the red-and-gold ballroom. Queue, then groove until 4am and after.
Best way to get there
Kirker Holidays (0870-112 3333: www.kirkerholidays.com) offers a three-night b&b break at the five-star Grand Hotel from £616 per person, including return scheduled flights and private return car transfers. British Airways (0870-850 9850; www.ba.com) flies from Heathrow to Stockholm from £99 return including taxes. Stockholm's Arlanda airport is about 70km out of town. A taxi to the city centre costs about Skr385 (£29) and takes around 30 minutes. Direct trains run every 20 minutes; journey time is around 20 minutes, price Skr200 (£15). For further information visit www.stockholmtown.com.
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