Stockholm and Venice share a problem. What to do with the cruise ships?
As we approach the city by car from the watery south, I tell my wife: ‘You’ll get a sense of the archipelago right here and at the same time the city will look magnificent.’
‘Hardly,’ she says, as three huge multi-deckers block the view with pin-point accuracy.
Never mind. As we get closer to the Royal Palace (built 1754), the vista opens up — and it’s still mighty thrilling. The Vasa Museum, the Opera House, the Grand Hotel, St James’s church — they’re all there to greet you.
And so, too, is Stockholm’s newest and trendiest place to stay, less than five minutes by foot from the centre of the action.
It’s called At Six and it’s where art (Jaume Plensa’s huge white marble head stands in the lobby), fabulous food and the best of modern Swedish design combine to inspired effect in a building that — from the outside — looks like a NCP car park from the Seventies.
The cocktail bar on the first floor is one of the longest I’ve ever seen and you might miss it if you only visit Tak, the rooftop bar, which right now is the hot ticket in this quietly seductive city.
There are all kinds of things to do in Stockholm, but for some reason whenever I’m there, I choose to go shopping.
Normally I hate shopping. On this occasion, we visit the NK department store and are taken by the friendly and intelligent help on offer from the shop assistants. I snap up a jacket and a pair of Acne jeans.
Stockholm is expensive but, somehow, you don’t feel it’s a rip-off.
Cheers to that! At Six’s uber-chic cocktail bar
Everywhere you look there’s effortless style — even in the Royal Opera House. If you don’t get to see an opera you must pop in to the ballroom where drinks are consumed during the intervals.
Here, the 18th-century cut-glass chandeliers are a marvel. And if you do go to see a performance, expect to pay little more than £60 for seats in the Grand Circle.
DEAL OF THE WEEK
A week all-in at the Fundu Lagoon hotel, on Pemba Island, off Zanzibar, is £1,920 pp. Go snorkelling, on kayaks and village treks.
Includes Kenya Airways flights from Heathrow and all transfers.
Valid until December 27. Operated by Turquoise Holidays.
Tel: 01494 678400
If you’re thinking of one outing away from the city, make it Artipelag, an extraordinary venue for art, design and great food, set in woods about 12 miles from the city centre.
A new exhibition which might appeal to us Britons opens next week.
It explores the relationship between human nature and the weather, albeit in a conceptual Swedish way.
Artipelag’s black-tarred building blends perfectly with the cliffs and pines on a promontory high above a huge bay. And inside all is white.
Design is taken seriously in Sweden. Jokes about Ikea are wide of the mark.