Things to do in Stockholm 2015

Stockholm is an accessible but exciting destination. I visited a few years ago and fell in love with the clean and healthy lifestyle, cutting edge design, captivating sights and stylish culture. This time on my second visit my palate was introduced to the inventive cuisine, my wallet suffered thanks to the influential local designers, and my imagination soared discovering the historic wonders that showcase the city’s past. Just two hours from London, Sweden’s capital is the ultimate Scandi-chic city escape and both times I have visited I have found it utterly enchanting, an endearing combination of old and new.

To stay
Ett Hem – the most beautiful home you could ever wish to step foot in. This fairytale boutique hotel has flourished under the interior expertise of Ilse Crawford. Indulgently luxurious but with plenty of character and charm, Ett Hem ensures guests feel totally at ease and relaxed wherever they are, whatever they are doing. With just 12 rooms you will always feel special staying at Ett Hem.
To eat and drink
Gastrologik – This miraculous Michelin-starred restaurant is the vision of Jacob Holmström and Anton Bjuhr. They work closely with local producers and suppliers to create a magical daily menu that will surprise and delight.
Matbaren – influential chef Mathias Dahlgren has two Michelin star restaurants in Stockholm. Matbaren is the more casual of the two with small plates and a less formal atmosphere. Particularly memorable was Dahlgren’s take on an Asian BBQ steamed bun, it was absolutely delicious.
Gro – Dining out in Stockholm is an expensive affair but Gro is affordable and brilliant. This local eatery only serves two dishes each lunchtime, but what they do cook up is simple and honest, and seriously tasty. The cabbage and bacon was a winner when we visited, which we ate with rustic homemade bread and a refreshing Swedish sparkling berry fruit drink.
Drop Coffee Roasters – this award-winning roastery and cafe in the trendy Södermalm area is known to serve the best coffee in town. I tasted an aromatic blend from Rwanda which had been created with meticulous filter technique, very popular in Sweden.
Lindquists – Treat yourself to a traditional afternoon fika at Lindquists with one of their spiced cinnamon buns and a cup of something warming.
To do
Vasa Museum – The warship Vasa sank on her maiden voyage in Stockholm 1628 and was not salvaged until 1961. It’s the only preserved 17th century ship in the world. This miraculous ship is overwhelming huge and magnificently displayed. Learn about the ship’s story whilst wandering around the giant wooden structure.
Royal Palace – located in the old town (Gamla Stan) this ornate baroque palace is still in use today as the official residence of the Swedish Monarchy. Tourists can wander around parts of the palace and observe the lavish décor and artwork.
Östermalms Saluhall – this old fashioned foodhall has been inspiring locals and tourists since 1888. Today the beautiful hall hosts a range of vendors offering delicious local produce and Swedish delicacies. Visitors can wander around purchasing delicious souvenirs or can sit at one of the little cafés for a light lunch. We bought some typically Swedish cheese to take home.
Selma CitySpa – At the top of the towering Clarion Sign Hotel in Stockholm is a rooftop spa that will transport you away from the stress of the city to a world of relaxation. Enjoy a treatment before splashing around in the warm rooftop pool, or indulge with some champagne and sushi at the bar.
To shop
Nitty Gritty – This chic shop started out in 1991 in Stockholm as a counter reaction to all of the mainline clothing department stores dominating the market in the early 90′s. Beautifully curated and thoughtful, the shop is a great place to browse through interesting Swedish designers and unique products.
Hasbeens – These wonderful wooden-soled shoes have become so popular that they are now found in shops worldwide. Based on the clog styles from the 70s, Swedish Hasbeens creates traditional handmade shoes that will always be in fashion and will last forever.
Stutterheim – These brightly coloured handmade raincoats are the ultimate Stockholm accessory. Striking and trendy, they will make you crave the wet weather like never before.
Palmgrens – Established in 1896 by saddlemaker Johannes Palmgren this beautiful and luxurious leather designer is a Swedish institution. I loved the iconic leather-trimmed rattan tote, but there are many more styles and accessories to choose from. Sadly the beautiful craftsmanship comes with a hefty pricetag.
Byredo Parfums – This is one of only a few Swedish independent perfume brands and they produce lovely pure scents. The fragrances are made with only five core ingredients, and smell fresh and vibrant. I fell in love with Mister Marvelous, a unisex scent which has won several awards.

Many thanks to the Stockholm Tourist Board for their help with this trip.

Things to do in Oslo

Unusual and exciting, Oslo has an icy cold appearance and climate but is perhaps the warmest and friendliest city I have visited. In recent years Norway’s capital has grown in popularity and importance, with the ‘barcode’ business district developing at speed and the hotel and restaurant scene becoming more trendy and diverse than ever before. It may be more expensive than its Scandi counterparts but it has just as much, if not more, to explore and discover.


The Thief – Less than a year old, the Thief hotel is without doubt the most enticing hotel in Oslo. Located on the water’s edge in the cultural hub of Tjuvholmen, this coveted hotel is the home for every celebrity visiting the city. With an enviable art collection and an alliance with neighbouring gallery, Astrup Fearnley, the accommodation looks as seductive as it feels. Hotels don’t come much cooler than this.


Sverre Saetre – This sophisticated gallery of pretty patisseries was opened by Norwegian pastry chef, Sverre Saetre who previously trained at the Michelin starred restaurant in Oslo, Bagatelle. The cabinets hold immaculate delights: macarons, cakes and the signature ‘dry cakes’ (puff pastry with red peppers and parmesan).

Pascal – This French inspired café is chic and charming, the perfect place to stop for a warming bowl of soup at lunchtime, or a much needed caffeine kick. The black and white tiled floors are reminiscent of a French brasserie, whilst the high ‘Michigan’ bar stools offer an American style juxtaposition.

Nighthawk Diner – For those needing an American food fix, Nighthawk diner is the place to go. Relax in the comfy red leather booths and order a Nighthawk combo-burger and pistachio milkshake. The ideal indulgence for a cold winter’s evening in Oslo.

Ekeberg Restaurant – Known best for its advantageous positioning on the top of the south eastern hills in Oslo this restaurant is architecturally sublime with the best views in town. It was a great setting for our New Year’s Eve meal, we sipped wine and admired the skyline as fireworks flashed above the city.


Tim Wendelboe – Norway has a particularly strong affinity with coffee and the cafes in Oslo represent this well. Tim Wendelboe is unmissable for caffeine addicts visiting the capital. The slick micro roaster / espresso bar offers carefully sourced, rare blends of beans.

Blå – Every Sunday evening crowds cram into the lively and raucous jazz music venue, Blå. It is a place for locals to share a few beers with friends whilst enjoying an eclectic live soundtrack, we certainly felt like the only tourists in the place! The house band plays every Sunday, their music is infectious and impossible not to dance to.

Fuglen – Coffee by day, cocktails by night, this vintage institution is a must visit. Barely changed since 1963 you can buy nearly every retro article on display, or just sit and enjoy your surroundings.


Astrup Fearnley – This impressive new modern art gallery was conveniently close to our luxury accommodation at The Thief. Indeed the hotel is one of the museum’s main sponsors, and as a guest you are given free access to the exhibitions. Amongst the prolific works are the ostentatious Jeff Koons sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles and Damien Hirst’s gory animals and bufferflies. We also enjoyed the temporary, more cheerful Brasilia show.

Munch museum – Edvard Munch is a Norwegian national treasure, and this museum is a homage to the great artist. A precariously icy walk to the museum was rewarded with a subtle and imaginative exhibition of Munch’s works on paper. An essential for any Oslo itinerary.

Holmenkollen ski jump – This terrifying structure is appreciated for its staggering feat of architecture and its more practical uses. Built in 1892 it is regularly used for international events, but for the rest of the year is a fine sight to see, and also houses the world’s oldest ski museum.


Oslo Vinterpark – Oslo is totally unique as the only capital city to boast skiing so close to the busy town life. The slopes are easily reached by metro (just 20 minutes from the city centre) so lucky locals can enjoy a few hours of snow sports after a day at work. I skied for the very first time here. After a lesson with the brilliant instructor, Jonathan, I even managed a green run at the end of the session. It was a very special addition to our trip and an amazing asset to the city of Oslo.

Walk on the Opera House – Oslo Operahuset is perhaps the most impressive piece of architecture in Norway’s capital city. Sitting precariously on the water’s edge, this bold jagged glass and marble structure is admired for its glacier-like appearance and beautifully designed oak-lined auditorium. If you can’t afford the ticket prices, take a stroll on the sloped roof of the building and admire the views.

Vigeland Sculpture Park – Pick up breakfast at the super cool café, United Bakeries, then walk it off at the famous Sculpture Park. The park is filled with 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron, made by just one artist, the lifework of Gustav Vigeland. Mesmerising and refreshing, it is a free activity that anyone and everyone would enjoy.


Freudian Kicks – A beautifully curated selection of designers from around the world. I noticed cool brands like APC, Carven, Surface to Air and Wood Wood. Taking advantage of the post-Christmas sale, I bought a lovely warm roll neck jumper from Nordic brand, Wall Winter Spring Summer.

Moods of Norway – Started by childhood friends in 2003 this casual Norwegian clothes store has been a hit, expanding across the city, and further afield to Los Angeles and New York. The shop is filled with brightly coloured garments and accessories.

Hunting Lodge Store – This dinky design store has a quirky selection of products, prints, art books and edgy streetwear. Many of the shop fittings are one-off designs and the attractive layout encourages browsing.

Norway Designs – Those who are addicted to Scandi design like me will enjoy the plethora of treats in the big Norway Designs shop in the centre of town. Here you will find everything you desire from stationery to homeware, jewellery to accessories.

Many thanks to Oslo Tourist board for their help with this trip. More information here.

Things to do in Copenhagen

Cool and chic, Copenhagen is my kind of city. For food, drink and design this city is hard to beat and at Christmas the Danish capital is alight with festive fairs and events.


Geist – try stylish and artful Danish food created by celebrated chef Bo Bech. The menu is refined and concise and filled with genius tapas-style dishes. Cauliflower and black truffle was particularly memorable; both tastes and visuals are spectacular.

Era Ora – the talented team here provide the ultimate Italian food and wine experience. Expect a banquet and spend an afternoon indulging in the finest culinary creations.

Cocks and Cows – voted best burger in Copenhagen a few years ago, this joint still excels at American classics. Any variety is possible (bun, sauce, fillings and toppings) and the results are faultless. Chips receive top marks too: homemade, thin, crispy with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Ricemarket – from the founders of Kiin Kiin (the only Michelin starred Thai restaurant in Europe), Ricemarket is a delicious casual alternative, easy to get a table and less threatening to your wallet!


Ruby – established in 2007, Ruby soon became a popular choice for the discerning Copenhagen cocktail drinker. Masters of mixology, the bartenders will create any drink you desire. I chose the off-menu strong but brilliantly balanced Brooklyn.

The Union – concealed completely on a quiet street in town, we almost interrupted several private parties before eventually discovering the inconspicuous black door. Truly outstanding cocktails, we loved the Pinky and the Roscoe.


Louisiana – venture out of town to the staggeringly beautiful modern art museum. Currently on show: a passionate Jorn and Pollock exhibition and an exploratory show about the Arctic.

Christiania – take a stroll around this freetown built on a dream of freedom and the notion of a place governed by its residents. An alternative, anarchistic area – definitely worth exploring.


Playtype – letters of all shapes, sizes and forms fill this tiny eclectic shop.
Pick up an alphabet poster or buy your very own special Playtype font on a memory stick.

Acne Archive – a haven for Acne lovers, this outlet store sells past seasons’ rejects for a fraction of the price.

Finders Keepers – an occasional, very special fair celebrating the best young designers on the Scandi scene. Bring cash.


Tivoli Gardens – one of the world’s oldest amusement parks – during the festive season experience the warmth of Christmas with the festive stalls, rides and restaurants.

Canal tour – tick off all the sights in 90 minutes on this informative and picturesque tour. The impressive opera house, little mermaid and black diamond are all en route.

Many thanks to the Copenhagen Tourist Board for their help with this trip, more information here.