City Guide: Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is ever changing, ever evolving - that's what makes this capital city tick. Set over 14 islands, the surrounding water provides a sense of calm while the architecture breeds a sense of wonder. Recently branding itself as "the open city", the Nordic capital isn't as heart on its sleeve as you might expect. It can be difficult to get under the skin of the place and its citizens, but those who persevere will be rewarded with a diverse food scene, interesting nightlife and a surprising number of subcultures to explore.

Very much a seasonal city, some places are only open in the winter or the summer - and in some cases change their name and design every other month. In summer, as the sun stays beaming in the sky well throughout the night, the terraces of the city come alive with postcard-worthy views and sounds of electronic, pop, rock, soul and hip hop bellow out onto the streets. In the winter the city turns inward, with cosy bars, soul-warming restaurants and hour-long fika (cake) sessions. It's easy to try and categorise the different neighbourhoods into exclusive Stureplan or hipster Södermalm, but with so many places to explore and a constant reimagining of spaces, it's really much more complex than that.

Plan more than a few days to get a true taste of Stockholm - it's not a place that you'll conquer in 48 hours - and prepare to have any preconceptions of this future-conscious city turned upside down.

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Freys Hotel

Stockholm, Sweden

When you step off the Arlanda Express – the shuttle train that goes from Arlanda airport to Stockholm – and through the doors of Central Station, you’ll find this four-star hotel staring you down from across the road. It’s ideal after a long journey, when you just want to drop your bags and crash. But The Freys Hotel isn’t just any scruffy station-side stopover; it’s a beautiful and extremely popular family run hotel. The rooms are bright and contemporary, with a rustic feel and generous windows look out onto rooftops turned golden by the sun. Our tip after a long day exploring? Book into the private sauna and relax (reserve at least one hour in advance with reception).

Address

Bryggargatan 12 101 31

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Berns Hotel

Stockholm, Sweden

A boutique hotel with a huge amount of history which shows continuing support to the arts. The beautiful old building houses a majestic ballroom fitted with sparkling chandeliers and has played host to big artists such as Rihanna. It serves as a central, highly convenient and luxurious base at any time of the year, but especially during Fashion Week. Berns is also home to one of the best Asian restaurants in town, and guests receive a VIP wristband giving them access to the hotel’s nightclub and several others in the surrounding area.

Address

Näckströmsgatan 8 111 47

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Lydmar

Stockholm, Sweden

A trendy hotel with only 45 rooms and the same views as its neighbouring but more traditional sister establishment, the Grand Hotel overlooking the Royal Castle. The popular restaurant here serves a mixture of Swedish and intercontinental dishes, and is always packed with a good-looking crowd. In the summer the bar on the terrace is a must. Lydmar is walking distance from everything and offers the perfect destination for both couples and singles in one of the best party cities in the world. There is no hotel gym, but guests are free to use the amazing spa at the Grand.

Address

Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2 103 24

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Nobis Hotel

Stockholm, Sweden

Known as the hotel to be seen in, and less well-known as birthplace of the term Stockholm Syndrome, this is where the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken took place, in which several bank employees were held hostage in a vault from August 23 to 28 in 1973 while their captors negotiated with police. These days it’s a much friendlier place but some of its heritage lives on in the hotel, with the bank’s boardroom kept perfectly preserved upstairs. The rooms are spacious and modern and the inner courtyard is always a good place to start an evening out.

Address

Norrmalmstorg 2-4 111 86

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Ett Hem

Stockholm, Sweden

Ett hem has successfully created a balance between impeccable taste and a homely feeling, without making it feel pretentious in any way. There’s no menu for dinner – the chef will open the fridge in the kitchen, tell you what there is to choose from and then whip up something special. Just like at home, where you seldom spend time in the bedroom, most guests sit and relax wherever they feel like it. Don’t be surprised if a celebrity settles down on the sofa next to you.

Address

Sköldungagatan 2 114 27

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The Story

Stockholm, Sweden

This is a fun concept hotel with no reception; when you book online, you will receive a code instead of a key to your room. There is a very happening bar for the young, cool crowd of Stockholm, and the tapas restaurant on its main floor is buzzy and reasonably priced. Travel with friends and book one of the rooms with bunk beds.

Address

Riddargatan 6 114 35

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Miss Clara

Stockholm, Sweden

With a design aesthetic inspired by the Swedish forests, Miss Clara is nothing short of idyllic. Filled with history, the property – formerly a girls school – was built in 1910. Named after the headmistress, the hotel has kept many of the original details thanks to architect Gert Wingårdh. It’s also in the heart of the city meaning it’s easy to get around.

Address

Sveavägen 48, 111 34 Stockholm, Sweden