Jamie Ndah heads to to Sweden to discover what the renowned city of Stockholm has to offer
With Sweden proving victorious at the 2015 Eurovision competition, it was fitting that Stockholm would be hosting their winner and favourite son, Måns Zelmerlöw, to perform at the packed Gröna Lund. That very weekend, over 50,000 visitors also came to this gorgeous city to witness Eliteloppet, the prestigious and largest harness racing event in the world. And if that wasn’t enough, 20,532 pairs of feet from 92 different nations pounded the streets of Stockholm in the fiercely contested 37th edition of the ASICS Stockholm Marathon.
I knew my weekend stay in the capital of Scandinavia was perfectly timed, and presented me with the opportunity to see what this wonderful city had to offer. With a history dating back to the 13th century, Stockholm has long been the cultural, economic and political centre of the region. It is located across 14 islands on the southeast coast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Malaren. It’s surrounded by pure water, of which I got a huge sense of freedom whilst exploring its impressive landscape.
I was staying in Stureplan, an area which is a high-end address in central Stockholm, and is situated between Norrmalm and Östermalm. The square connects the major streets Kungsgatan, Birger Jarlsgatan and Sturegatan. The surrounding buildings house offices of banks and other financial institutions, as well as several corporate headquarters.
Some of the country’s most famous and luxurious restaurants and bars are located in the area around Stureplan such as Sturehof, Spy Bar, Riche, Laroy, Hell’s Kitchen, East and Sturecompagniet. Exclusive fashion houses with shops in the area include Versace, Hugo Boss, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Stureplan has also become a well-known symbol for exclusivity and luxury of which it is now considered a playground for the eclectic mix of the rich, famous, celebrity crowd, and the hipper, more recent members of the Swedish Royal Family. It was fair to say I was certainly in fine company.
At a closer look, Stureplan is more than an address. It is Stockholm’s symbol for luxury and style. Business people, models and celebrities teem past the square’s famous mushroom to visit some of the city’s most exclusive clubs and restaurants. The velvet ropes are very popular in this part of town as are the VIP crowd in Stockholm’s densest party area.
I stayed at the fabulous Scandic Anglais which has 230 rooms, and is perfectly located a short distance from all the shops, restaurants, bars and various other amenities. Places of interest that I found very close to the hotel were the Sture Mall, Royal Swedish Opera and the National Museum, in addition to the Museum of Medieval Stockholm and Stockholm Royal Palace. This is a thrilling hotel coupled with a very creative minimalist design, a trend of this exceptional venue.
The Scandic Anglais is truly superb, light and ultra-modern. The hotel is clutter-free with clean, dazzling lines, modern furnishings and artistic details. I stayed in a superior room which was around 28 square metres in size, and boasted beautiful wooden floors, a private balcony, a bathroom with a shower and a private sauna. It was located on the 8th floor which was in fact the top floor of the hotel, and had a real penthouse feel to it, whilst offering tremendous rooftop views across the city.
My room was equipped with all the necessary facilities I needed, consisting of evening tea, decaffeinated coffee, a hairdryer, iron and ironing board, a large flat screen TV with a good choice of film channels (included), and fast free Wi-Fi. The spacious bathroom area had an array of stylish shower products from FACE Stockholm, a Swedish cosmetics company that offers make-up and skincare that is true to the Swedish beauty ideal – naturally based, trend forward, simple, clean, gorgeous and fun. I really found these products to be most refreshing and soothing to use. Incidentally, when you stay in a superior bedroom at the Scandic Anglais, you can also choose to delay your checkout time of which I took full advantage of during my stay.
The hotel also has three bars, one located on the ground floor, Bar 101 which is located on the 1st floor, and my personal favourite, the terrace rooftop bar which is located on the 7th floor and offers a live DJ, mixologists preparing mouth-watering cocktails and sublime views over the rooftops and the green Humlegarden.
I dined at Jamie’s Italian which is a standalone restaurant based on the ground floor of the hotel and I was looking forward to sampling dishes from the first ever Jamie’s Italian throughout Scandinavia. It was back in October 2014 that the doors opened to the first Jamie’s Italian in the Nordic region. It serves simple, rustic Italian cuisine with Jamie’s own twist. The menu is rooted in authenticity, and it’s all about fantastic, simple dishes created using tried and tested recipes.
For my starters, I had the world’s best olives on ice. This was well-presented and came with black olive tapenade and crispy music bread. I then tried a firm favourite with hotel guests at the restaurant which was crispy squid with a rich garlic mayo, and dressed with lemon and chili.
For my main course, I was recommended to try the Turkey Milanese which didn’t disappoint. This dish was stuffed with prosciutto and fontal cheese, served with a free-range egg and wild truffles. With an added simple green salad, coupled with a lemony yoghurt and herby dressing, plus a portion of posh chips decorated with truffle oil and parmesan cheese, my main course was going down well.
I just about had room for dessert which was a colourful and refreshing-looking Eaton Mess. This fun-filled sweet treat was traditional and home-made by the Chef, so I had to sample this delicious delight which was thoroughly enjoyed.
Overall the staff at the restaurant were very friendly, informative and gave super service with a smile, from the welcoming hostess, the first class waiting staff, right through to the attentive and impressive floor manager they had everything covered.
I found that Stockholm is a city filled with great architecture and impressive buildings. I visited the famous Vasa Museum which was a truly unique and enjoyable experience. It displays the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, and the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The sheer scale and size of the ship has to be seen to be believed. The Vasa Museum opened in 1990 and is the most visited museum in Scandinavia. Of course, there is also the Abba Museum, completely dedicated to Stockholm’s most famous export, full of their music and interesting facts about their careers too.
I would also recommend taking a stroll around Gamla Stan to soak up the atmosphere of this 750-year old town and its narrow streets crammed with medieval buildings. It is one of the best preserved medieval city centres in the world and is full of handicraft stores, antiques, art galleries and cafés. The huge Royal Palace and Stockholm Cathedral are also located here so it’s well worth a visit.
I really enjoyed Stockholm which surprisingly didn’t seem overcrowded due to all the events and activities that were taking place during my weekend stay. The city in places is calm and serene, but it also had the vibrant, energetic hustle and bustle of a thriving metropolis. This sterling destination continues to be a progressive and respectful melting pot of a variety of cultures, and it is evident to see why Stockholm is the worthy capital of Scandinavia.
For further information, please visit www.scandichotels.com
Photos courtesy of Scandic Anglais and www.visitsweden.com
See more from Jamie’s visit to Stockholm in the gallery below