The Swedes have got the work/life balance sorted. Wandering the streets of Stockholm on a sunny Monday afternoon, stylish locals are happily sipping coffee at one of the many outdoor eateries. After that, they might do a spot of shopping, or try out one of the modern restaurants. Stockholm consistently features as one of the top cities in the world in terms of high standards of living and any visitor will know, this good living is palpable.
While visitors are always warned about high Scandinavian prices, shopping in Stockholm can actually be refreshingly well-priced, on par with prices in Australia. The design here - both in fashion and homewares - is phenomenal. And it’s not just the high-end boutiques like Acne and Grandpa that are worth browsing; department stores including NK (Nordiska Kompaniet) and Ahlens look like design museums. Sweden is home to H&M (and their other brands including Cos and ‘& Other Stories’) and the Ikea flagship (and museum) is nearby.
A highly walkable city, Stockholm sits on 14 islands, so you’re always within strolling distance of water, lush greenery, and parks. Art lovers should head for Skeppsholmen where Moderna Museet is, it’s one of the best museums in the world for international contemporary art (and the gift shop is great!). And just across the water is Fotografiska, the new centre for contemporary photography.
The highlight, of course, is an interactive visit to ABBA The Museum. Here you can marvel at the life-size replicas of ABBA members Frida, Agnetha, Björn and Benny in silicon. They seem so real that when they were being made, Bjorn took his home and put it in the bed to surprise his wife.
‘What an impact! There was the man who lay beside her 35 years ago. The man she fell in love with!‘ he said.
You can become the fifth member of the band and have a singalong with 3D holograms of the band. There’s the Waterloo room highlighting their rise to fame from the Eurovision contest and the Gold room where you can see some of their very of-the-time stage costumes.
Afterwards, retreat back at the central Haymarket by Scandic hotel. Housed in an iconic 1920s former department store, where Greta Garbo once worked, the hotel has recently gone through a hip refurbishment in the style of the roaring twenties. Tactile velvets, copper and marble feature heavily. Art deco features extend to the lobby bar called Americain, perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail. Fittingly, the café here is named after Garbo who started her career as a sales clerk in the hat department.
Foodwise, it’s not all meatballs and herring. Recently Swedish cuisine has taken huge leaps with award-winning chefs and restaurants. Stockholmers have unique breakky habits, a phenomenon worth experiencing at the hotel. Think lashings of smoked fish, cheeses, cold cuts, fresh fruit and delectable pastries. Afterwards, you’ll be fueled up to go out and do some more shopping and join those happy Swedes enjoying Stockholm life.
TO GO: For more on Stockholm, visit www.visitstockholm.com
Emirates fly to Stockholm via Dubai. Visit www.emirates.com
Stay at Haymarket by Scandic from $185 a night, visit https://www.scandichotels.com