Firstly I need to apologise for my complete neglect of the blog in recent months – it was my intention to write about our trip to Tenerife but that turned out to be more Tener-Grief so gave that blog a swerve. However, I am back into the blog groove and have to tell you all about my recent trip to Stockholm.
Dave has been working out in Sweden so I took the chance to fly out solo (get me being all Beyoncé – strong independent woman) to spend a long weekend there with him. I flew out early Saturday morning from Manchester and arrived into Stockholm at lunchtime – so at just over 2 hours its not too long a flight for a mini break.
Stockholm is made up ofof 14 different islands which are connected by over 50 bridges, which means a lot of walking.
Grand Hotel Stockholm:
Our first stop was the Grand Hotel Stockholm, which is situated on the waterfront in the old part of Stockholm. This hotel certainly lives up to its name, oozing grandeur from the moment you set foot inside. The decadent entrance is adorned with cameo paneled walls, towering pillars with gold leaf detailing and imposing chandeliers. In front of the reception desk sits a large granite and gold table with is laden with gorgeous seasonal flowers.
The hotel kindly upgraded us – they must know I am obviously a travel blogger now right!? (I am joking – I wasn’t even there for check in haha!), But yes, as Dave booked through Fine Hotels and Resorts, which gives you a number of added extras for your stay, they kindly upgraded us to a junior suite. The living area was decorated in a light and airy colour palette with large wallpaper panels, soft linen sofas and chairs. They added some luxe in to the room with the use of heavy grey window drapes, thick floor rug and gold mirrored furniture.
The Bedroom followed the same theme with the wallpaper panels being carried through, soft grey window drapes and a similar chandelier. The headboard was upholstered in a very delicate grey pattern fabric, which was super soft to touch. The bathroom oozed the same luxury, with marbled floor, granite sinks and monogrammed EVERYTHING – even the taps!
We ate in the hotels restaurant the “Cadier Bar” both for our evening meal and breakfast overlooking the waterfront. We had a continental breakfast as we wanted a light start to the day and stop off for brunch somewhere else – safe to say that didn’t happen as the continental breakfast was HUGE!
Downtown Camper by Scandic
For the Sunday evening we moved hotel a few minutes walk away to the Downtown Camper, which is nestled conveniently behind the main shopping area of the Normalem area of Stockholm.
This hotel has a completely different vibe and style the Grand Hotel Stockholm, with the Downtown Camper having a lot more of a relaxed atmosphere and modern contemporary design. They pride themselves on creating a space that promotes creativity and curiosity, and even run a range of complimentary wellness workshops and activities throughout the day for guests. Dave & I took took part in the “Sound Experience” activity which took place in a giant net above the reception where everyone laid with pillows in the nets spaced apart with individual headphones. Its safe to say that the one person out of the 7 who didn’t fall asleep whilst listening to the relaxation music was me haha.
The room like the rest of the hotel was very different to the previous, having a lot more of a relaxed and modern approach to design. The large suite was completely open plan, except the bathroom (as the would be weird but not out the question – trust me its happened before). The walls were covered with a simple patterned texture in a soft slate grey which were softened by hanging voile sections. The lighting like the soft furnishings were also chosen to add warmth and texture to the room, using orange and muted grey fabrics. The seventh floor room had a stunning view of the skyline over Stockholm, which could be fully enjoyed from a cabin style daybed inset in the window ledge.
Although there was an 8 person dining table in the room (random but beautiful), we still opted to head down to the restaurant for breakfast. The restaurants buffet style breakfast was more of a banquet with tables full of fresh cereals, fruits, nuts, pastries, meats and yoghurts – and thats before you even turn your attention the the cooked options and waffles. Safe to say that neither of us left this amazing buffet breakfast feeling hungry!
Sights & Spots of Stockholm
Gretas is part of the beautiful Haymarket Hotel (by Scandic – the same chain as Downtown Camper) on Hotorget Square. The café is a beautiful mix of modern and old interiors, creating a classic and elegant 1920’s style with a modern touch. The walls, decorated in soft pink, are adorned with gold accents creating a welcoming vibe. The café menu is created to produce healthy food without compromising on any quality and taste. Given my big breakfast at the hotel I indulged in a Lemon Tart which was delicious, while Dave opted for the classic brunch dish of Eggs Royale.
Outside the Haymarket Hotel is Hotorget square where each Sunday, the regular fruit and veg market is replaced by a second hand flea market. The stalls here are so varied with everything from vintage clothes to records and home wares that I was in heaven (Dave was in HELL). I mean who would buy a 20 piece vintage tea service without thinking about the practicalities of getting it home – oops!
Probably one of Stockholm’s most Instagrammable sights is the rainbow ceiling of Stadion Station. I would recommend heading here later in the evening to avoid the crowds if you want to capture a good picture. I later discovered that there are similar artworks in T-Centralen station, Solna Centrum Station & Tekniska Högskolan station – be sire to check them out if you get chance.
Gamla Stan is a small but bustling island which is steeped in Sweden’s history. The narrow cobbled streets that make up this island are lined with many colorful homes and shops. Gamla Stan is also where you will find the beautiful medieval cathedral and the Royal Palace. Here is where we found lots of little boutiques selling everything from antiques to modern art galleries – there is also a fair share of quaint coffee shops and eateries.
Söldermalm is a short bus or tram ride from where we were staying and this island is known for its vibrant and alternative vibe. It was referred to as a slum back in the 1800s, but don’t worry, its had a big resurgence in more recent years, with a lot of vintage shops, quirky cafes and bars lining the streets. Söldermalm is also where you will find the beautiful Sofia Church, which is surrounded by park land and a number of quaint wooden cottages.
Arlanda Express: Dubbed the most efficient way to travel from the airport to central Stockholm BUT be aware – with the return ticket on the Arlanda Express costing £47.00 (for a 20 min journey), if you are travelling as a group it may in fact be cheaper to get a taxi – Uber typically charges £50 for the journey to central Stockholm and takes 45 mins.
Boat Trip: As you may remember from my Amsterdam blog, I think boat trips are a great way to access a lot of sights in a condensed time. We took the Under the Bridges boat tour, which lasted 50 minutes for £18.00 each. This was very worth while and the individual headphone commentary was very informative in giving us an insight into the sights of Stockholm.
Travel App: If you live on your phone like me, and your only there for a short trip then the Stockholm ‘SL’ app is perfect. This app lets you plan your journeys and purchase single journey mobile tickets on your phone to a pre-registered debit or credit card. HOWEVER if you are planning to do a lot of travel then given the £3.70 cost per single journey, the Stockholm Travel Card is probably a better and more cost-effective option for you.
Careful of Cash Free: Be careful as with many big cities Stockholm has a growing number of cafes, bars and hotels that are completely cash free. Dave’s tip here would be to use a fee free debit card for any card, contactless or ATM transactions – we always use a Starling card which offers fee free foreign transactions (more info).
No Alcohol on Sunday: Now if you are like me and enjoy a glass of Rosé in the bath, but the hotel mini bar is extortionately priced, remember you wont be able to purchase alcohol on a Sunday in Sweden. You can only buy alcohol from designated Liquor stores and they have limited opening hours. The stores are closed completely on Sundays so plan ahead and BUY IT ON SATURDAY!!!
All in all Stockholm is definitely one to add to your list to see, just let it be known I have warned you that the weather is sporadic and the gin & tonics are not cheap!