Le Cordon Bleu Chef Annie Conley has formidable taste in music and food. Having travelled all over Europe, we asked Annie to highlight the best of in the Swedish capital of Stockholm from her modern perspective. Stockholmers call their city ‘beauty on water’, Annie shares what is unique to Stockholm and highlights the food scene.
What is unique to Stockholm and why do you love this city?
The city of Stockholm is spread across 14 Islands that form part of an archipelago of more than 3000 islands in The Baltic Sea. What was once a land of Vikings and ships is now a stunning city on the water with amazing architecture that survived unharmed, throughout both world wars and a food culture that will blow your mind.
The New Nordic take over in cuisine is in full effect here with chefs returning to their Nordic roots. Take a few days, I say four to lap it up…
Word up, you must know about Fika! Something I fully identify with being a coffee drinker. The nation stops for coffee and cinnamon rolls, it's central to the Swedish mentality!
Whilst in Sweden you must also familiarise yourself with the Swedish term “Lagom” which means ‘enough, sufficient, adequate, just right’ and you will see that the Swedes don’t overdo anything, they just nail it quite simply, especially with design!
When basing your stay in Stockholm, where are your pick of top hotels and why?
Lydmar Hotel - I highly recommend this charming boutique hotel. Reasonably priced, interiors are cozy and chic, great breakfast, stylish surrounds, you can’t beat The Lydmar and its central location on the water is the first place I would stay.
Grand Hotel - for something plush with a sense of the past stay at The Grand, old worldly, overlooking the Royal Palace and Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. In summer drinking on the terrace is where you want to be seen! For me a place for a drink rather than to spend the night.
Bern’s - 82 eclectic rooms modern in interiors but in a beautiful historic building.
List your top dining locations and their most memorable meals.
Ostermalms Saluhall - dining in Stockholm is a total joy! The Swedes are so into their food and cuisine permeates its culture. First stop I would visit the great 1880’s-built food hall 'Östermalms Saluhall' pouring over Swedish delicacies such as pickled herring, smörgåsbord, toast Skagen and massive crayfish. The seafood here is some of the best in the world, grab a seat in one of the many restaurants or counters to choose from or just take away for a picnic in summer time with a beautiful natty wine!
Riche - if you are looking for the ultimate Swedish meatballs experience, I found it. This restaurant has a very arty vibe, it's something like a Parisian bistro, somewhere where beatniks might have once hung out. Riche delivers a delectable dish of meatballs smothered in a creamy gravy with pickled cucumbers and lingonberries, the wine list is outstanding too. Tyge & Sessil - hip natural wine bars are a thing in Stockholm, one of the city’s best is Tyge & Sessil. A beautiful wine list that also features some remarkable Australian wines will keep you at the bar all night. You can also grab something light to eat here the bar is co-owned by one of Sweden’s hottest chefs, so the food offering is not an afterthought
Café Nizza - lunch or dinner here at Cafe Nizza. Modern Mediterranean. It came highly recommended from Magnus Nilson's chefs and locals too! Don’t miss this little gem.
Tweed - a cocktail bar with Swedish interiors, this bar has ‘Hygge’ (Swedish for cozy). It’s young and hip with amazing cocktails!
Ekstedt - new Nordic Cuisine right here, Nordic produce and technic in cooking. Dishes are mostly cooked over an open fire of Birchwood. It’s one of the cities most renowned eateries for a reason.
What are the best vantage points for people-watching and taking it all in?
One of the best vantage points to see the city is to get on the water. So, jump on one of the many ferries and you can see how this city sprawls from island to island, it's also a great mode of transport. In the winter the ferries smash through the Baltic ice like ice breakers in the Antarctic it's quite an experience to be had…. perhaps a shot of local vodka to calm the nerves.
What are your top cultural/art experiences?
The Artist House (Konstnärshuset) - this neo-gothic gem is a space for Swedish Artists Association, open for contemporary exhibitions, showcasing Sweden’s latest up and coming artist.
The Vassa Museum - an awe-inspiring 17th Century war ship, 331 years old, that was pulled out of the harbour in the 1960’s. It sits in the museum like it never left its shores, intact, it’s an amazing site perfectly preserved by the brackish waters of Stockholm Harbour. Huge!
The Royal Palace - the palace sits on the water and sparkles at night. During the day you can witness the changing of the guard. Stockholm houses a royal family that they are very proud of something similar to that of Denmark.
The Abba Museum - ‘Money, money, money” - so much fun to be had here, dag out, try on the costumes in this interactive museum, sing a long (no one can hear you I swear) and embrace Abba. This Swedish pop band had the world falling all over them in the late 70’s, the memorabilia is all time! Even if you are not a fan this is a must!!
Gamla Stan - explore the neo-classical cobbled streets of Gamla Stan. The beautiful pastel coloured buildings of the old town of Stockholm, it was founded in 1252 and one of the largest and best-preserved medieval city centres in Europe. A great way to spend some time wandering the afternoon away. Instagram will get a work out on these streets.
Any local tips or getaways that one can pair with Stockholm?
Âre - awesome skiing to be had here! in the ski town of Âre, although pricey like that of St Moritz the slopes are always smothered in snow. Being so close to the Arctic Circle there are no bad seasons here! A short flight from Stockholm, SAS is a great airline to get around the country.
Fäviken - a short drive through Jämtland county from the town of Âre. Magnus Nilsson’s magical culinary wonderland of Fäviken awaits you, with 16 seats and only a small number of rooms you must book well ahead. It’s a place where you must stay the night not only for dinner but for Fäviken’s fabled breakfast! It starts with porridge and cloudberries, Swedish caviar, perfectly boiled eggs from Fäviken’s hens, home churned butter, smoked reindeer heart, hard cheese, ham, liver pate and homemade breads! Washed down with Sea Buckthorn juice and freshly brewed coffee nothing will ever beat this breakfast of champions! The produce is just sublime. Norwegian scallops the size of your hand. Without question this is one of the planet's greatest restaurants, a truly unique restaurant, where you can connect with nature and experience cooking perfection.
Ice Hotel - head up to the far north of Sweden to Kiruna, above the Arctic Circle where Sweden’s indigenous Sami culture run reindeers and the landscape in mind-bending. Experience sleeping in a room carved out of ice in minus 20 degrees temperatures. Drive your own snow mobile out into the woods in the middle of the night to search for the Northern Lights, then eat reindeer soup fire side like the Sami’s do. Surreal and inspiring Time magazine recently voted this hotel as one of the greatest places in the World 2019.
When is the best time to travel to Stockholm?
All year-round Sweden has something to offer. To experience snowy landscapes, Northern Lights and the Sami culture I would go late Winter to early Spring, February to March. The warmer weather with plenty of light and long sun hours May to September for a more outdoors escape.
Keep up with Miss Annie on Instagram here.