September 19, 2018

Key to STHLM Magazine

Time for a public service announcement here. I am a member of Les Clefs d'Or which is an international union for professional Concierges, with around 4,000 members working luxury hotels in 80 countries around the world. Our Swedish chapter has worked closely, over the past few months, with Savor Media to produce a glossy Stockholm magazine called Key to STHLM.
The magazine is full of great articles looking at what is hot on the design, culture, nightlife, fashion and culinary scenes in Stockholm. You will also find specific tips from two Stockholm Les Clefs d'Or Concierges in each issue as well as interviews with interesting Stockholmers, a culture calendar for the season, an in-depth look at some of Stockholm's best attractions and more.
Key to STHLM will be a bi-annual magazine and you can find them in any of the top Stockholm hotels that have a Les Clefs d'Or Sweden Concierge... like the Hotel Rival (where you will find an issue in every room). Besides perusing their issue in their rooms, hotel guests are welcome to take their magazine home with them as a nice souvenir of their time in Stockholm.
We are busy working on content for the next issue, due out in February, and it looks like it will another great issue! Stay tuned...

September 15, 2018

"Warhol 1968" at Moderna

An exhibition about an exhibition! The other day I attended the press showing of Warhol 1968 at Stockholm's modern art museum Moderna. This exhibition is a look back at the artist Andy Warhol's first solo exhibition outside of the United States, which took place 50 years ago at Moderna. I have always found Andy Warhol to be fascinating, both his art and the man himself, and I have been looking forward to this exhibition.
Andy Warhol was the godfather of the pop art movement and was active on the New York art scene from the 1950's until his death in 1987. By 1968, he had already created many of his iconic pieces of art, like the Marilyn Diptych, Campbell's Soup Cans and Brillo Boxes. The Factory, Warhol's NYC studio, became the center of the New York art scene, producing an amazing amount of art, music and film as well as creating many counterculture figures (Warhol Superstars).
Warhol was a polarizing figure, in life and in death. You either loved him or hated him. This was evident at his exhibition at the Moderna in 1968. The reviews varied wildly... fraud, degenerate or genius? The 1968 exhibition was even seen as a bit scandalous in some circles. Part of the current exhibition looks at these reviews published in Swedish media at the time and they are fun to read. 1968 was a tumultuous year in the world as well with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War and more and this year proves to be an interesting backdrop to Warhol's exhibition in Stockholm. Of special note is the fact that, a few months after Warhol's exhibition in Stockholm, there was an assassination attempt on him as well.
The current exhibition also looks at how the 1968 exhibition came together and what happened upon the arrival of Warhol, director Paul Morrisey and "superstar" Viva in Stockholm. There are, of course, several of Warhol's works of art in the exhibition, including Brillo Boxes, Mao, Flowers, American Indian, Marilyn Diptych as well as Warhol's rendition of the Absolut vodka bottle (the first in Absolut's successful advertising campaign where the bottle was depicted by various artists).
Other interesting items in the exhibition include album covers designed by Warhol, examples of his famous quotes and issues of his popular fashion magazine Interview. Also part of the exhibition are two films... both Warhol's Chelsea Girls and the Oscar nominated documentary Brillo Box (3 cents off). For some extra fun, make sure you check out the museum's gift shop! They have some great items, several which are exhibition themed and many which would make unique Stockholm souvenirs.
Moderna is located on the island of Skeppsholmen. The easiest way to get there from the Hotel Rival is by the Djurgåden ferry that departs every 15 minutes from nearby Gamla Stan... the trip only takes 10 minutes, just let the staff know that you will be disembarking at Skeppsholmen so that they make the extra stop. There is also a bridge leading over to the island from the downtown area. Warhol 1968 runs until February 17th next year.

September 14, 2018

Djurgården Tram Extension Complete!

One of the most popular ways to get from the downtown area of Stockholm out to the island of Djurgården, where many of Stockholm's main attractions are located, has been the tram (street car) Djurgårdslinjen. This tram line, first with vintage trams and later with more modern cars, has run between Norrmalmstorg and Djurgården since 1991. There have been plans on extending this line on each end and, last week, the first stage was finally completed. The line has now been extended west to the Central Train Station.
I say "finally" as the extension has meant a lot of construction and ripped up roads for a few years, especially around the NK department store and Sergels torg square. But it has been worth the trouble. Trams were a popular mode of transportation in many Swedish cities until the middle of the last century; phased out mainly in favor of busses and subways. The final death blow was when Sweden changed from left-hand to right-hand traffic in 1967. But now trams are making a comeback due to them being an environmentally and comfortable way to travel. They are even building new tram systems in some other Swedish cities, like Lund.
This extension is only a few blocks long and you might be wondering why I am writing about this. Well, the extension is actually quite strategic as it connects the line with the Central Train Station, the hub of all subway, train, commuter train and bus traffic in the city. So, for example, a guest at the Hotel Rival can now get to Djurgården by taking the subway to T-Centralen and then transferring to the tram (if they didn't want to take the Djurgård ferry from nearby Gamla Stan, another convenient way to get to the island). When you arrive at T-Centralen (subway station under the train station), just exit in either direction and walk up the stairs to the street Klarabergsgatan where you will find the start/end station in front of the Åhlens department store.
Just a 15 minute trip out to the nature of Djurgården

August 30, 2018

Calendar of Events- Autumn 2018

Autumn stroll at Djurgården
Photo by Jeppe Wikström/ 
I just posted an article about autumn art exibitions at museums and galleries in Stockholm, but there are a lot of other events and festivals going on this season to keep you busy. Below you will find a calendar of the bigger events and festivals happening in Stockholm. Of course there are many smaller events going on that aren't on the list. If you are staying at the Hotel Rival, contact me directly for more information!

December (a month filled with Xmas themed events and happenings, more info when the season approaches. You can also check my Christmas overview article from last year to get an idea of what to expect).
Winter views from City Hall (Stadshuset)
Next week I am traveling to Marrakesh to take part in the European UICH Congress and will be gone all week. Hopefully these past two articles will help you plan your autumn visit to Stockholm. I will be back working and blogging on September 11th! 

August 28, 2018

Autumn Art Exhibitions 2018

The National Museum re-opening on Oct 13th!
Photo by Hans Thorwid/Nationalmuseum
After a long, hot summer, the (sudden) drop in temperatures is a sure sign that autumn is right around the corner. The change in seasons means that we are looking for more indoor activities and, thankfully, there are some great art exhibits coming up at the main art museums and galleries in Stockholm to keep you busy. You can also check my list of summer exhibitions as many of the museums have exhibitions that last through September.

  • Fotografiska (photography)- there are a couple of exhibitions going on through September: Evelyn Bencicova "Merror" (until Sept 23rd) and Simen Johan "Until the Kingdom Comes" (until Sept 23rd). Two upcoming exhibitions are Noémie Goudal "Stations" (Sept 7th to Nov 18th) and Lars Tunbjörk "A Look From the Side" (Sept 14th to Dec 2nd). Considering the exhibit space, I am guessing that there will be two other exhibitions starting in October. I will add when they are announced. 
    Photo from Andy Warhol's first exhibit at Moderna in 1968
    Photo: Moderna Museet
  • Moderna (modern art)- their big fall exhibition, which I am really looking forward to, is Warhol 1968 (Sept 15th to Feb 17th) which celebrates the fact that Andy Warhol had his first solo exhibition in Europe at Moderna, 50 years ago! Another upcoming exhibition is Moderna Exhibition 2018 (Oct 20th to Jan 6th). 
  • ArkDes (architecture & design)- their ongoing exhibition is Public Luxury (until Jan 13th) and their upcoming exhibition is called Space Popular, Value in the Virtual (Sept 19th to Nov 18th). They also have a permanent exhibit on Architecture in Sweden
  • Millesgården (sculpture & art)- Most people come to visit the beautiful sculpture garden, but they also have a gallery with temporary exhibitions. Their upcoming exhibition is William Morris "More than Floral Wallpaper" (Sept 15th to Feb 3rd). 
  • National (classic art)- the big news is that they are finally reopening on October 13th after several years of being closed for renovations! The big opening exhibition will be John Singer Sargent (until Jan 13th). Looking forward to their reopening...
    Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville, Paris 1950
    Photo: Robert Doisneau © Atelier Robert Doisneau at Kulturhuset
  • Kulturhuset (mixed art)- home to multiple forms of culture, including some art galleries. One exhibition this season is of the photographer Robert Doisneau (Sept 7th to Nov 25th). 
  • Thielska Galleriet (fine art Scandinavian)- they have several current exhibitions through September. An upcoming exhibition this season is of the work of Swedish painter Ivan Aguéli (Oct 6th to Feb 10th ). 
  • Artipelag (art museum in archipelago setting)- their outdoor exhibition Detour is running until Nov 4th and in the gallery you have Bloomsbury Spirit running until Sept 30th. The new exhibit this fall is Margiela- the Hermès Years (Oct 26th to March 10th). 
  • Prins Eugen Waldemarsudde (fine art Scandinavian)- besides their permanent collection, they have several exhibitions this fall like Paula Modersohn-Becker and the Worpswede Artists' Colony (Sept 15th to Jan 27th), Helene Scmitz- Thinking Like a Mountan (Oct 6th to Feb 17th) and The Painter as a Photographer (Oct 6th to Feb 17th). 
    The Traitor by Georgij & Vladimir Stenberg, 1929
    at Liljevalchs
  • Liljevalchs (contemporary art)- their main autumn exhibition will be looking at Soviet poster art (Oct 12th to Jan 6th). 
  • Bonniers Konsthall (contemporary art)- they are reopening after being closed over the summer with their fall exhibition New Materialism (Sept 5th to Nov 11th). 
  • Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum (mixed art)- their first exhibition out is "Pillow Talk" by Ulla & Gustav Kraitz (Aug 29th to Oct 14th). Don't miss their upcoming exhibition with Swedish artist Jenny Nyström (Oct 26th to Feb 17th). 
  • Etnografiska (world culture)- They have an interesting exhibition this autumn that can fall under art... Feathers which looks at how we have used fathers throughout history in art, culture and fashion (Oct 6th to March 3rd).
    Portrait of Dagmar Assarsson, by Jenny Nyström
    at Sven-Harrys
    Photo by Per Myrehed

August 18, 2018

Museums With Free Entrance in Stockholm

Medieval Museum (Medeltidsmuseet)
Yes, it is true, Sweden is relatively expensive to visit. But there are ways of keeping your costs down when coming to Stockholm. For example, since 2016, all state run museums (as well as a few private ones) have free admission. These museums cover a wide range of subjects, from art to history to culture. Many of these museums are very child-friendly as well!
Museum of Natural History (Naturhistoriskamuseet)
The list of museums in Stockholm, in alphabetical order, with free entrance:
  • Architecture and Design Center- The Stockholm center for architecture and design, housed in the same building as Moderna (modern art museum). 
  • Armémuseum (The Army Museum)- a look at Sweden's military past and peace keeping present.
  • Etnografiska museet (Museum of Ethnography)- dedicated to cultures and peoples of the world.
  • Hallwylska museet- art and history museum located in a palace from the late 1800's owned by von Hallwyl family. Some special exhibitions may have an entrance fee..
  • Historiska museet (Swedish History Museum)- focused on the history of Sweden... including the Viking era. 
  • Kungliga myntkabinettet (The Royal Coin Cabinet)- museum of economy as well as the history of money and finance.
  • Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury)- a look at Swedish royal history through their clothing, costumes, armour and carriages. 
  • Marabou Park (contemporary art gallery)- gallery located in the suburbs of Stockholm in a former cocoa labrotory. 
  • Medelhavsmuseet (Mediterranean Museum)- dedicated to the history and culture of the Mediterranean area (Greek, Roman, Egyptian, etc.).
  • Medeltidsmuseet (Museum of Medieval History)- how did Stockholm look in the Middle Ages? What was life like for Medieval Stockholmers? Actually not state run (run by the city), but still free entrance as of January 1st.
    Museum of Swedish History (Historiska Museet)
  • Moderna museet- Stockholm's museum of modern art. Certain temporary exhibits may have an entrance fee, but their permanent collection is always free to visit. 
  • Nationalmuseum (the National Museum)- Sweden's museum of art and design. Currently closed for renovations, they reopen in October.
  • Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (Museum of Natural History)- a look at the history of the natural world from dinosaurs to today. Entrance fee still for their IMAX theatre Cosmonova.  
  • Riksidrottmuseet (Museum of Sports)- museum of sports and the history of sports. 
  • Sjöhistoriska museet (Maritime Museum)- dedicated to naval and shipping history.
  • Skokloster Castle- one of the best preserved Baroque castles in Europe, with museum. Located just outside of Stockholm. . 
  • Östasiatiska museet (Museum of Far East Antiquities)- houses art and sculpture from the Far East (Japan, China, Korea, etc.). 
  • The Royal Armoury (Livrustkammaren)

August 14, 2018

August = Crayfish Season in Sweden!

Crayfish party
Photo by Carolina Romare/
It is August which means it is the traditional time of the year for Swedes to have crayfish parties (a kräftskiva). The reason this happens in August is that this was historically the only time it was legal to fish for the little critters here in Sweden. These days, due to the high demand, we import them from Turkey, China and the US year-round... but August remains the traditional month to eat crayfish. Crayfish parties generally happen in peoples' homes where friends and family gather, wear funny hats, sit at long tables decorated with paper laterns, drink akvavit snaps and sing drinking songs. It can be a lively evening! Swedish actress Alicia Vikander recently taught Jimmy Fallon about the tradition.
If you are not lucky enough to be invited home to some Swedes for a party, you can still try this Swedish delicacy at a select few restaurants in Stockholm this month. Depending on the restaurant, they either do it as part of a three course set menu or just as a main course. Double check the restaurant's website to see the duration of their crayfish offer (some have crayfish for the whole month while others do it for a week or two or even just a weekend). Here are the restaurants I could currently find. Interested in restaurants that serve traditional Swedish cuisine? Click here for a list.

Traditional Crayfish Party
Photo by Carolina Romare/

August 9, 2018

Södermalm: parks, beaches, allotment gardens and flea market

Allotment gardens
The island of Södermalm is not only the location of the Hotel Rival, it is also the largest of the 14 islands which make up central Stockholm. Södermalm is a popular place for visitors to spend time, whether at the museum Fotografiska or in the SoFo neighborhood. A favorite pastime with the locals in the summer months, which many visitors miss, is to stroll along the southern coast of the island... mainly the coast between Eriksdalsbadet (subway stop Skanstull) and Långholmen (subway stop Hornstull).
Rehydrating at Loopen Marina
You can actually walk around the coast of most of Södermalm, especially the southern and western parts of the island. The path is popular with joggers, bikers and people out for a stroll. Along the southern coast you will pass pools, beaches, allotment gardens, parks and (on the summer weekends) a popular flea market. It is fun to feel like you are in the countryside even though you are in the middle of a large city.
I usually start by taking the subway to Skanstull and then walking down to the waterfront right at Eriksdalsbádet, which is a large aquatic complex with indoor and outdoor swimming pools. As you walk west, there are a lot of allotment gardens ("kolonilott" in Swedish) along the way. This is a plot of land that is then subdivided into smaller gardens, each usually with a small cottage. These picturesque gardens are used by people living in the city to have a piece of land and grow flowers and vegetables. They are very popular and usually stay with a family for generations.
Beach at Tantolunden
Tantolunden is a large park along the way and a favorite with locals when it comes to outdoor activities and sunbathing. There is even a beach there which can get quite crowded on warm days. Swedes are, however, great at finding secluded spots where they can soak up the rays so you will see them all along the coast... anywhere they can find a rock, some grass or even tree limb in the sun.
Swedes can sunbathe anywhere they find sun
After the park, you reach Loopen Marina and Hornstulls Strand. Loopen has a nice floating restaurant and bar, complete with palm trees for that "tropical" feel. Good place to stop for lunch and/or a drink. At Hornstull Strand they have a popular weekend flea market called Hornstull Marknad which is open every Saturday and Sunday, April through September. It is a small but popular flea market and they sell all sorts of knick-knacks, clothes, vinyl records and more. They also have food trucks lined up which is a great option for lunch (picnic in the park).
Flea market at Hornstull Marknad
You can either end your walk here and take the subway back (Hornstull station- red line) or you can continue along the coast to Långholmen, which is a little island just adjacent to Södermalm. There is a little footbridge that connects the two islands. Långholmen is a favorite place for locals to visit on a summer day. They have beaches, park and forests as well as places where you can rent kayaks. The beach is popular with children while young adults prefer to sun on the more secluded rocks. You have great views of Stockholm from the island.
Crossing over to Långholmen
Speaking of views, if you are feeling adventurous, you can access the large bridge (Västerbron- "western bridge") which crosses the lake to the other side of Stockholm. It is a bit of a hike up but you are rewarded with amazing views of the city and lake from the top! This might all sound like a long walk but, all in all, it is only around 4 kilometers from Eriksdalsbadet to Långfholmen. Click here for information on beaches and here for kayaking in the city.
Food trucks at Hornstull Marknad

The view from the top of Västerbron

August 5, 2018

Restaurant Fjäderholmarnas Krog

Entrance to the restaurant
Fjäderholmarnas Krog is one of my favorite summer restaurants (and at Christmas too, but more on that later). Located on an island at the entrance to Stockholm harbor, the restaurant has an idyllic waterfront setting where you can enjoy late, summer evenings, or sunny days, and watch all of the boats pass by on their way in and out of Stockholm. The island itself is worth a visit as well with café, brewery, handicraft shops and picnic opportunities. Many Stockholmers go to the island to sunbathe and swim on warm summer days. Visiting the island is a good way of getting a feel of the Stockholm Archipelago without having to travel too far!
Arriving to the island
As it is on an island, you have to take a boat to get there. In my opinion, this is half the fun of eating at the restaurant. The boat trip only takes 25 minutes and the boats depart regularly. You have the choice of taking boats from the downtown area with the Strömma company or from Gamla Stan with Fjäderholmslinjen (the second option is better for Hotel Rival guests- just a 15 minute walk away). The boats take you through Stockholm harbor and past Djurgården and Nacka Strand... very picturesque.
This is a great way to eat at an archipelago restaurant without having to travel hours to get there. The restaurant serves Swedish cuisine with lots of fish and shellfish, though they do have vegetarian and meat dishes as well. When I was there last week, we had caviar (Swedish löjrom, salmon roe and arenkha caviar) and oysters for appetizers, then the seafood stew with aioli and the deep fried goat cheese salad for ther main course. It was all really delicious. We sat outside and it was a balmy evening.
Dinner and a show, you never know what type of boat will pass by
Whenever I visit this restaurant, I always try and time the boats so that we can spend some extra time on the island either before or after dinner. It is nice just to walk around the island and enjoy the views. Perhaps a Swedish craft beer at the brewery? Maybe a visit at the glass blowers or pick up some homemade chocolates? Or just a leisurely walk in the forest? The island isn't big so you can easily walk around the whole island in about 20 minutes. Keep in mind that some of the shops are only open during daytime hours.
During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, many restaurants in Sweden serve a traditional holiday smorgasbord called "julbord". Fjäderholmarnas Krog does have one of Stockholm's best julbords and is very popular... so if you are visiting the city then, try their julbord! It is especially nice if there is some snow which makes the boat trip extra special. The restaurant is only open during the summer months and these weeks before Christmas.
The restaurant during the Christmas season
As I mentioned, there is a great brewery & pub on the island which makes its own craft beer (served at the restaurant) and you can book beer tastings. Speaking of which, you do have the opportunity of tasting Swedish whiskey (Mackmyra) at the restaurant. You can book brewery or whiskey tasting packages through the restaurant. Fjäderholmarnas Krog is a popular restaurant so you should try and book your table in advance... either on their website or, if you are staying at the Hotel Rival, you can contact me directly for help. For the boats departing from Gamla Stan, you buy your round trip tickets on the boat. The boats departing from the downtown area can be prebooked. You can click here to see a collection of other restaurants I have visited and written articles about.
Boarding the boat in Gamla Stan
Leaving Stockholm
Passing Djurgården and...
...and Nacka Strand.