As a Concierge, I have noticed many misconceptions that visitors have concerning Stockholm and Sweden over the years. For example, there are no dog sledding tours of Stockholm in the winter (not enough snow) nor can one "see the archipelago" during a spare hour in the afternoon (it is large and you need at least 3 hours to glimpse just the inner archipelago). Then there is something else that I am slowly realizing may also be a misconception about Sweden. Over the years I have always been surprised by the amount of guests who want to have a massage when visiting Stockholm. While I do often visit spas myself when I travel abroad, it is mainly because treatments are about half the price they are back in Sweden (a 50 minute massage here will cost you between 600 and 1200 SEK). So why would a visitor to Sweden want to pay double the price they would pay back home for a massage? It was when a guest told me that when he was in Sweden he had to, of course, try a "Swedish Massage" that I realized the reason. Visitors think that they are immersing themselves in Swedish culture by having a massage, much like one might when visiting a hamam in Turkey.
Turn-of-the-century Stockholm spa? By Eugene Jansson
Sadly, having a Swedish Massage in Stockholm is like ordering French Toast when in Paris. Swedish Massage is actually not really Swedish... and comes from it being mistakenly(?) attributed to Peter Henry Ling, a Swede. Here in Sweden, and most parts of the world, it is simply called a classic massage. I take no pleasure in bursting this bubble and I don't mean to anger the Swedish Spa Industry (no angry e-mails please), but I feel visitors should have a massage in Stockholm for the right reasons (relaxing, great spas, pampering yourself, etc;) instead of mistakenly thinking that they are partaking in the local culture! Ironically enough, if you really want to act like a Swede then you should have a Thai massage when in Sweden. Thailand is a top vacation destination for Swedes and because of this you will find a plethora of Thai massage parlors and restaurants in the city. That all being said, there are many great spas in Stockholm that offer a myriad of face and body treatments, including the classic massage. Sturebadet, Yasuragi and Centralbadet are some favorites when it comes to large, luxury spas. There are also many wonderful, smaller spas. If you are going to be staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me for help in booking treatments. And remember to do this a couple of weeks in advance... booking a massage at the last minute is often very difficult!