Insider: Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, at the intersection of the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren, looks like a mirage on water. The cityscape is a mix of pastel old-world landmarks and signature cutting-edge design. Michelin has spread its stars all over Stockholm, and has graced the city itself with three of them. But there's a better indication that the scene is buzzing: visitors must be prepared to wait in line, for everything. So pack comfortable shoes—but make them stylish ones if you want to blend in here.
Where to Stay
Grand Hôtel 8 Södra Blasieholmshamnen; 46-8/679-3500; doubles $300-$400.
A city landmark. The 1874 building—with 307 guest rooms—is right next to the Nationalmuseum and is itself packed with antique furniture and art.
Berns' Hotel 8 Näckströmsgatan; 46-8/614-0700; doubles $150-$295.
When celebrities want to be incognito, they check into one of the 65 rooms here.
Lydmar Hotel 10 Sturegatan; 46-8/5661-1300; doubles $140-$250.
In the Stureplan shopping area, with 56 rooms and a view of Humlegården park—as close as Stockholm gets to Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Hotell Diplomat 7C Strandvägen; 46-8/663-5800; doubles $160-$275.
One of the city's oldest hotels, on posh Strandvägen. The best of the 128 guest rooms have splendid views of the quays. For tea in high society, try the Diplomat Teahouse.
Where to Eat
Bon Lloc 33 Bergsgatan; 46-8/650-5082; dinner for two $150.
Considered the best in town, specializing in Mediterranean dishes such as escalope of monkfish with shellfish paella.
Edsbacka Krog 220 Sollentunavägen, Sollentuna; 46-8/963-300; dinner for two $200.
For those willing to venture into the burbs, this is a gem, serving Swedish cuisine—try the terrine of Baltic herring—in an 18th-century lakeside building.
Eriks 17 Österlanggåtan; 46-8/238-500; dinner for two $250.
Sweden's most expensive restaurant, but chef Pontus Frithiof's culinary wizardry is worth the price—especially the monkfish with ragoût of eel, morels, and fennel.
Fredsgatan 12 12 Fredsgatan; 46-8/248-052; dinner for two $150.
Everything from Thai seafood to lamb kebabs. Shares quarters with the Royal Academy of the Arts and the Galerie Nordenhake.
Lydmar 10 Sturegatan; 46-8/5661-1300; dinner for two $60.
International fare in an ultracool setting on the ground floor of the Lydmar Hotel. The pan-fried scallops with citrus risotto are scrumptious.
Ocean 76 Norr Mälarstrand; 46-8/652-4090; dinner for two $80.
Grilled butterfish, lamb with polenta, and more—all on the waterfront in a building by architect Ragnar Östberg, who also designed City Hall.
Halv Trappa Plus Gård 3 Lästmakargatan; 46-8/611-0277; dinner for two $85.
Swedish potatoes meet saffron couscous. The interior looks like a seashell, and the courtyard is full of Beautiful People.
Akvarium Kungsträdgården; 46-8/100-626.
This place is a Scandinavian take on the deep sea, with a huge veranda. Great latte and beer.
East Restaurant & Bar 13 Stureplan; 46-8/611-4959.
A fabulous Asian place that turns into a wildly popular bar on weekends. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mel Gibson are repeat visitors.
Gondolen 6 Stadsgården; 46-8/641-7090.
The high-altitude bar at this amazingly elegant restaurant has vast views of the city harbor, and a drink list as thick as the Stockholm phone book.
Sturehof 2 Stureplan; 46-8/679-8750.
A mega-canteen with three bars, including the upstairs O-Bar.
The Place to Be
18 Kungsgatan; 46-8/244-700.
A VIP salsa/cigar lounge that looks like Cuba in the fifties: ceiling fans, palm trees, mahogany. Will you get in?Depends just how cool you are. Recently seen at the bar:Jerry Seinfeld.
DRESS LIKE A SWEDE At Filippa K (18 Grev Turegatan), you'll discover men's and women's wear by the nation's hottest designer, Filippa Kihlborg. Nordiska Kompaniet (18-20 Hamngatan) is a first-rate department store stocked with the best of international and Swedish styles. Scour Södermalm (the city's southernmost island) for superb vintage and secondhand finds.
SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN Stop at DesignTorget (3 Sergels Torg; also 31 Götgatan) to see streamlined household objets d'art. Nordiska Galleriet (11 Nybrogatan) carries the ultimate in contemporary Swedish furniture, and they'll ship anywhere.
WRITE HOME Ordning & Reda (47 Sturegallerian) has beautiful Swedish-made stationery, pens, photo albums, wallets, and handbags.
Jumping for Java
the best places to drink coffee
Beware: Swedes brew it pitch-black.
Wayne's Coffee (31 Götgatan, and five other locations)
is a sleek hangout in the contemporary mini-mall Götgatan 31.
Sturekatten (4 Riddargatan), one of the oldest—and largest—cafés in town, has excellent apple custard cake.
Normans (Skeppsholmen), near the Moderna Museet, serves an over-the-top strawberry flan.
Andreas Brändström 25 Nybrogatan; 46-8/660-4153. A gallery representing emerging European and American artists, notably Henrik Håkansson, who represented Sweden at the 1997 Venice Biennale.
Andréhn-Schiptjenko 2 Markvardsgatan; 46-8/612-0075. Shows sizzling artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, Abigail Lane, and others.
Galerie Nordenhake 12 Fredsgatan; 46-8/211-892. The city's most prestigious gallery, specializing in art-world celebrities such as Miroslaw Balka and Nan Goldin.
Magasin 3 Stockholms Frihamn; 46-8/665-9041. Stockholm's answer to P.S.1, this privately owned warehouse in the port exhibits contemporary artists like Gilbert & George.
Moderna Museet Skeppsholmen; 46-8/5195-5200. The last word in modern art, in a 300,000-square-foot building by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Check out the restaurant, Kantin Moneo, and the Arkitektur Museet next door.
Nationalmuseum Blasieholmskajen; 46-8/5195-4300. Classical art, from antiquity to the late 19th century, for those who can survive the climb up the steep central staircase.