There is so much more to Sweden than Abba, Ikea and meatballs and Stockholm, the capital, is the jewel in the crown. An effortlessly hip city that aside from the usual sightseeing has amazing bars, restaurants and shops.
We are massive fans of Scandi design so shopping in Stockholm was never going to disappoint. The luxury shops are Nordiska Kompaniet colloquially known as NK and Åhléns City. Both are huge stores located in the central shopping district of Stockholm and house all the European and American high-end labels.
However, if you are looking for something a little more Swedish then head to Arket. A new Swedish store from the H&M family that has put the fun back into shopping and is aimed at the style-conscious minimalist. This is affordable uber cool clothing that will make you feel like you are on the set of a Nordic noir TV thriller.
A trip to Stockholm for us wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Byredo flagship store. Byredo is a modern Swedish perfume house with fragrances that are all inspired by journeys and memories. Although Byredo packaging is luxurious and stylish, the fragrance names don't take themselves too seriously. Who wouldn't want a perfume, called Loose Lips, Midnight Candy or Eleventh Hour - my current favourite and on my Christmas wish list.
If you love vintage shopping then look no further than the Södermalm neighbourhood which according to Vogue magazine is the coolest place in Europe. The area is full of vintage stores, concept shops like Grandpa and a fabulous independent magazine shop called Paper Cut.
In Södermalm there are trendy bars, cafes and restaurants around every corner so you can get your coffee or vodka hit in fashionable hangouts all day long. NB: many cafes and bars don't take cash so remember to take your credit cards. Stockholm, always ahead of the curve, is virtually a cashless city.
A city break isn't complete without checking out the local restaurants and the following is a list of our favourites.
Smak - a restaurant where you create your own tasting menu. A fun idea that really works because the food is outstanding. It doesn't look like much from the outside but this restaurant is an absolute must!
Rolfs Kök - buzzes with trendy locals enjoying quality dishes served with a flourish. Pudding was freshly baked madeleines with blueberry cream - enough said.
Allergerine - serves delicious contemporary French cuisine with a Scandi twist.
Pubologi - an intimate bistro in Gamla Stan serving an innovative tasting menu.
We stayed at Miss Clara Hotel in central Stockholm. A boutique hotel with chic and spacious bedrooms, equipped with all the mod cons and complimentary Byredo products - could it get any better!
Breakfast was the usual delicious continental fare and at the sight of the waffle making machine, all our self-control went out of the window!
Finally, one of our favourite things about Sweden is Fika. Fika is often translated as "a coffee and cake break", but really it is so much more than that.
Fika is a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. It is a pause in the day and an opportunity to make time for colleagues or friends for a cup of coffee/tea and a slice of cake. It is an essential part of a Swede's daily schedule and even the Volvo plant stops for fika. It has been proven that businesses that implement fika time have a happier and more productive workforce.
So now at H&G we're making it mandatory to take a daily break for an espresso and a French Fancy.
Words and photos by Tanya Taylor © 2018