WHERE TO STAY
Grand Hôtel Stockholm
Scandinavia’s leading luxury hotel (Condé Nast Traveler, Top 100 Reader’s Choice Awards, November 2007), Grand Hôtel has been the accommodation of choice for every emperor, royal, president, Hollywood actor, pop star, mogul and Nobel prize winner visiting Stockholm since 1874. Occupying prime position in the city’s waterfront and facing the Royal Palace, Parliament, and the Royal Opera House, guests can slumber in the lap of luxury at one of the 334 rooms and 42 suites, individually designed with furniture and art selected from Europe’s finest auctioneers.
For the royal treatment, book the Princess Lilian Suite, sure to rival the real thing outside your window. The 3,300 square foot penthouse boasts panoramic views of Stockholm and the finest amenities, including a relaxation zone complete with waterfall and aromatherapy sauna, a soundproof cinema for 12, staff rooms and limousine service to and from your private jet and throughout your stay. Play celeb at afternoon tea or happy hour at the chi-chi Cadier Bar, brunch at the Veranda, or dinner at Mathias Dahlgren, one of Stockholm’s top restaurants.
Tip: Invest in a room with view of the harbor and Royal Palace, and take home the 197-page book about the hotel’s history as a memento.
S. Blasieholmshamnen 8, Stockholm; +46-8-679-3558; www.grandhotel.se; rates begin at US$300/night ($8,700 for the Princess Lilian Suite, or $11,000 after January 1).
Nordic Light Hotel
Hailed “The World’s Sexiest Hotel” by British Elle, at Nordic Light, guests enjoy the latest in functional Scandinavian design without tapping into their 401ks. Taking as inspiration Sweden’s extreme light conditions — long days in the summer, short days in the winter — the property pioneers the use of illumination from the lobby to the Light Bar & Lounge, White Room, in-room infrared light therapies, and “mood rooms” with adjustable light beds. All are meant to keep your vitamin D levels high during the dark days of winter. Mood rooms allow guests to control the atmosphere of their suite by choosing bed frame colors ranging from blue for relaxation to intense red for energy. The 175 rooms in six different categories: Compact, Standard, Superior, Standard Mood, Superior Mood and Deluxe Mood are a magnate for fashionistas, design gurus and international jet setters. Its location in the center of the city – although one of the busiest and more undiscriminating neighborhoods ¬– is a short walk from Stockholm’s best shopping, cultural attractions and nightlife.
Tip: The minimalist décor, music and lighting might cause the mature traveler to short-circuit. On the upside, the high-speed express train from to and from Arlanda International Airport is just steps away.
Vasaplan 7, Stockholm; +46-8-5056-3000; www.nordiclighthotel.se; rates begin at US$350/night.
Nothing says vacation like sleeping in a designer igloo – and as long as you’re there, cross this off your 1,000 things-to-do-before-I-die list. From the one-hour plane ride from Stockholm to Kiruna that ends landing in the snowy runway to the dog-sled, ski jet, or car ride to tiny Jukkasjärvi, 125 miles north of the Arctic circle, getting to ICEHOTEL is part of the fun. Once you’re there, you’ll marvel at the ingenious engineering of this ice palace, erected and molded from ice and snow every year by snow-builders, architects, designers, and artists from all corners of the globe. There are several types of accommodations. The ideal is to combine a cold night in the Ice Rooms, Art Suites, or Design Suites with warm nights in the Kaamos Rooms or Cabins. Kept at a toasty 23°F, the 10-individually themed Design Suites will be open for overnight guests from Dec. 08 until April 30. Ice beds consist of a large block of illuminated ice with a thick mattress, reindeer skins and a thick polar sleeping bag. Be sure to enjoy the morning sauna and breakfast buffet. If you become tired of chilling in the ABSOLUT ICEBAR, or admiring the chandeliers and sculptures, adventure abounds with excursions including snowmobiling, husky sledging, cross country skiing, moose and reindeer safaris, ice driving and ice sculpting.
Tip: You won’t dazzle in your peep-toe Manolos in the –22°F artic weather, so dress warm. Buy your plane ticket upon booking your room, as flights to Kiruna are limited. And, don’t forget to sky watch for the aurora borealis, or northern lights.
98 191, Jukkasjärvi; +46-9-806-6800; www.icehotel.com; rates begin at $178 per person for Warm and Ice Rooms, and $210 per person for the Art or Design Suites. Check for off peak “nice price” periods for lower rates.
BEYOND IKEA, VOLVO, AND ABSOLUT…
A small, central island where the city was founded in the 14th century, Gamla Stan, or the “old city,” is chock-a-block with narrow medieval alleys, teensy old squares, cobbled streets, picturesque markets and decorated storefronts, and cozy cafes.
Tip: Make a stop at the Royal Palace for the changing of the guards or visit the Royal Apartments. (www.royalcourt.se/royalcourt/theroyalpalaces)
Art & Culture
With 100 museums, Stockholm is a cultural treasure, but navigating them can be daunting. Don’t miss the National Museum (www.nationalmuseum.se), which houses Sweden’s largest art collection, and the National Museum of Antiquities (www.historiskca.se), for its Viking exhibition and equally impressive gold room.
Tip: Take the audio guides, they are free with admission.
The oldest continuously run restaurant in Scandinavia (since 1722) Den Gyldene Freden’s (+46-8-249-760, closed 12/22 to 1/02) rustic cuisine has delighted the discriminating palettes of the most famous intellects (the Swedish Academy dines there every Thursday). And if you are prepared to pay, Mathias Dahlgren (+46-8-679-3594) serves Sweden on a platter with off-the-wall dishes like pickled herring in brown butter and cloudberry pudding.
Tip: Reservations are a must for both.
The party district, Stureplan is the playground of Stockholm’s young elite, who lunch with celebrities and drown on bubbly with the royals. Ground Zero? Clubs Laroy, White Room, Hell’s Kitchen (after 3 a.m.), and the most exclusive V on the top floor of Sturecompagniet.
Tip: Get beyond the velvet ropes by calling Ulf Fredrik von Roth, promoter, (+46-(0)-70-847-7357; please reference this article).
Hot on the heels of the latest trends, Stockholm’s best shopping areas stretch from Hötorget to Gamla Stan via Drottninggatan, and from Hamngatan and Kungsgatan down to Stureplan.
Tip: Visit Nakkna (Tjärhovsgatan 3) for chic Swedish fashion, Nordiska Galleriet (Nybrogatan 11) for the latest in design, and NK (Hamngata 18-20), Sweden’s answer to Harrods, for a one-stop shop.
MAKE IT A SCANDINAVIAN NEW YEARS
Skansen Open-Air Museum: Live music and entertainment, traditional holiday foods, crafts, fireworks, and Tennyson’s “Ring Out Wild Bells” at midnight telecasted live to the entire nation. $12 adults, $10 children. www.skansen.se
Grand Hôtel: Seven-course dinner at Mathias Dahlgren, or five-course dinner at the Veranda Restaurant or Wintergarden, followed by dancing to a live orchestra. $240 (reservation required). www.grandhotel.se
Café Opera: Five-course meal and wine package, fireworks and after-party at Europe’s oldest nightclub steps away from the Royal Palace. $240 dinner, $45 after-party, $800 table consummation; reservation required; call Jonas Ghauri, promoter, +46-(0)-70-799-7187, www.cafeopera.se
Sturecompagniet/V: New Year’s dinner and after-party with young, A-list Stockholmites at Stockholm’s most exclusive club. $115 dinner, $50 after-party, $1,900 table consummation; reservation required; call Ulf Fredrik von Roth, manager, +46-(0)-70-847-7357 and reference this article; www.stureplan.se
For more information on Stockholm and events, and for the Stockholm Card, visit www.stockholmtown.com.