Stockholm, Sweden: Sodermalm
Sodermalm is the place for breath-taking views, museums, nightlife, shopping and excellent accommodations. The south island has grown in popularity and is considered the "hotspot" in Stockholm.
Stroll along Götgatan during the day for one of your shopping expeditions and you'll find numerous trendy, creative fashion boutiques and salons. Take a break at one of the little cafés serving large, warm cups of cafe au lait with cinnamon. The cafés exude a European character that is appealing and worth lingering in while you watch the world go by.
In the evening, Götgatan turns into a thriving club scene with a Soho feel but without the trashy element of large cities. The clubs run the length of Götgatan and the interiors range from elegant minimalist to bright and causal.
Another wonderful street to find unexpected treasures is the East end of Hornsgatan. It is a main thoroughfare; however, there are a myriad of interesting shops and side streets to explore along this route. Look for The Tea Centre of Stockholm, located on Hornsgatan 46. The Tea Centre's exterior is unassuming and when visitors find this gem and walk through the doors, a quiet gasp is the usual response. Aromatic blends of sublime fragrances meld with the teashop's exquisite dark-wood interior and turn-of-the- century design. Shelves of fine quality teas, porcelain teapots, exquisite tea canisters of every design and glass display cases of miniature epoch figurines encompass the shop.
Vernon Mauris, proprietor of the Tea Centre, has been in business for over 30 years and was the first tea exporter in Stockholm. Mauris and his son, affable gentlemen, are importers, blenders and suppliers of the highest quality teas and posses a blending and tasting room for serious buyers and connoisseurs by appointment.
The shop is an aficionado's reverie and if you wish to purchase some excellent tea, try the Tea Centre's blended Special Earl Grey or their famous Söderblandning i Linnéburk (Blend of South Stockholm).
Stockholm offers many outstanding hotels; however, a specific boutique hotel located on Sodermalm has garnered an exceptional reputation. The Hotel Rival, owned by Benny Andersson of Abba fame, is a visitor's redeemer. The sleek and stylish Rival was renovated in 2003 with great attention paid to the comfort and needs of today's sophisticated traveler.
Contemporary, chic and colorful, the design of the hotel is reminiscent of a cinema premise. This reflection accentuates the guest rooms with a movie-image still, placed prominently above the tremendously comfortable bed. A neighboring plush velvet curtain, hung semi-circle, stands adjacent to the expansive view window. The rooms also feature flat-screen plasma TVs, DVD movies (with 100 free additional choices upon request) and a desk with office working essentials. And, when you've finished a bath, or shower in the divinely appointed bathroom of mosaic glass, marble and heated floors. You may want that hot café au lait you promised yourself. Simply saunter down to the 4th floor and make your own espresso or tea drink from the Rival's large, professional espresso machine with accompanying beverage accouterments (Complementary for hotel guests).
The hotel stands unique in Stockholm with its friendly and impeccable service, restful rooms and many fortes, including the Rival Cinema that was remodeled in the style of its original 1937 construction. The Rival's fabulous bistro bar, café, private lounge, cocktail bar and popular gourmet restaurant draws a large crowd of locals as well. All of these attributes entice guests to stay at the Rival and it's the reason they return.
Getting There: The Only Way To Fly International flights have increasingly become as unpleasant as domestic air travel. Yet, a few carriers still subscribe to customer service and comfort. SAS - Scandinavian Airlines provides excellent service that spans Europe and several US major hubs, whether travelers fly economy, premium economy or business class. Passengers are delighted and surprised to find comfortable economy seats, above par in-flight meals and friendly and considerate flight attendants. SAS's ticket agents are even helpful and smiling.
Patrice Raplee is an experienced travel photojournalist and editor of Travel Excursion and Seattle Spotlight for Positively Entertainment magazine. She is a member of North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) and the Recording Academy. Her photographs and articles have appeared in numerous international publications, as well as NW newspapers such as the Seattle Times, the Stranger, Seattle Weekly and the Oregonian. As a freelance photojournalist, she has also worked with acclaimed musical entertainers, such as Santana, Billy Joel and Steven Tyler. Patrice has written several children’s short stories and is currently working on an adult fiction novel for publication.
Photos courtesy of Patrice Raplee.