Stockholm

A break without the schmaltz in Sweden's cool, classy capital

Why go?

Because Stockholm’s a beautiful vibrant place. This easily explored city sits on 14 ice-shrouded islands where in winter every house and restaurant sparkles with tasteful decorations and candles, because in mid-December the sun sets around 3pm.

Stay at…

The new 80-room Hotel Hellsten (001 46 8 661 8600, www.hellsten.se), with an artful blend of old and new with antique porcelain stoves, colourful rooms and central location. Other stylish options include Hotel Birger Jarl (www.birgerjarl.se), the Nordic Light Hotel (www.nordiclighthotel.com) and Rival Hotel (www.rival.se), which is owned by Benny from Abba.

Lounge at…

The tiny but teeming Spy Bar (Birger Jarlsgatan 20, www.thespybar.com), where the vodka martinis are famous, then hit hip Allmänna Galleriet 925 (Kronobergsgatan 37, www.ag925.se) with its art student/gentlemen’s club vibe. For classic views across the copper roofs and icy harbour, take the lift to Erik’s Gondolen (Stagsgarden 6, www.eriks.se). For dinner, book a table at Nox (Grevturegatan 30, www.nox.se) – with black walls and sofas, its blend of French finesse and Scandinavian style is perfect for winter, plus it’s on a street with some of Stockholm’s best boutiques and design shops.

Shop at…

The gift shop in Moderna Museet (Skeppsholmen, www.modernmuseet.se), which has cool presents from jewellery and bags to design objects for the home. This museum of 20th century art also has a fab café with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Stockholm harbour. Elsewhere, the Swedes have gone vintage mad – check out Beyond Retro (Asögatan 144, www.beyondretro.com), which is part of SoFo, a great area for one-off fashion shops in the south of Södermalm.

Have fun at…

Kungstradgarden, a park where you can hire ice skates for £2, or hop on a ferry to Nacka to skate on Lake Kalltorp. For something more adventurous, try taking a 75-minute cruise on an ice-breaker, £12 through Stockholm Sightseeing (www.stockholmsightseeing.com).

Pamper at…

The world’s only Japanese-Scandinavian spa, Hasseludden (www.yasuragi.se). It’s in a pine forest where you can sit in steaming outdoor pools, have a massage or a dip in the beautiful swimming pool. A day pass costs from £58 including lunch, and you get to keep you aesthetic black swimming costume and Japanese dressing gown. Just think of it as a present to yourself.

Book now

Stockholm’s Arlanda airport is the nearest – look for flights at www.ba.com and www.scandinavian.net. For more stylish places, get a copy of Wallpaper* City Guide Stockholm (£4.95, Phaidon Press). There’s also lots of useful information at www.stockholmtown.com, including a shopping guide and reliable online hotel booking service.

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