January 13, 2018

On Vacation!

Yes, even a Concierge needs to go on vacation from time to time. I will be back at the Rival Hotel and blogging in mid February. In the meantime, here are some handy tips for you if you are coming to Stockholm in the coming weeks...

I hope that these tips help and that you have a wonderful visit in Stockholm! 

January 7, 2018

Museums in Stockholm

Sigrid Hjertén. Self portraitt, 1914 at  Prins Eugens Waldermarsudde.
Photographer: Andreas Nilsson / Malmö Konstmuseum
Did you know that, with around 80 museums and attractions, Stockholm is one of the cities in the world with the highest museum per capita ratios? Good news for visitors! And there really is a museum for every interest... museums covering the usual subjects of art, history, nature, culture and technology but even more specific interests like stamps, dance, toys, sports, police and silk weaving.
The Vasa Ship at the Vasa Museum
Photographer: Yanan Li/mediabank.visitstockholm.com/
I often write about art museums in this blog, mainly because they have new exhibitions to visit every season while other museums have more permanent exhibitions. You can see a list of the top art museums by clicking here and reading a recent article I wrote about this season's art exhibitions. We have museums dedicated to modern and classic art as well as photography and sculpture. A few of the museums contain private art collections which are great places to see the work of Scandinavian Masters. 
The Regalia at the Treasury
Photographer: Alexis Daflos, Kungl Hovstaterna 
Museums covering history as well as historical attractions (palaces, cathedrals) are some of the most popular points of interest for visitors to Stockholm. For example, three of the most popular attractions are the Vasa Museum, the Royal Palace and Skansen. The Vasa and Skansen are especially unique and shouldn't be missed. Click here for a full list of history based museums and attractions... Swedish history as well as royal family, military, medieval, city, maritime and Jewish history. Particularly interested in Sweden's Viking past? Click here for some great tips of what to see and do in the greater Stockholm area with a focus on Vikings. Or you can just wander the streets of Gamla Stan (old town) which is a living museum of history.
Chen Man exhibit at Fotografiska
How about museums focusing on specific Swedes and their accomplishments? There are a few. You can visit the Nobel Center and learn all about Alfred Nobel and how he invented dynamite and started the Nobel Prizes. The Swedish super group ABBA, of course, have a museum dedicated to them called ABBA the Museum. Swedish playwright and novelist August Strindberg has his own museum, located in his former home. You can also visit the Swedish sculptor Carl Milles' home and studio (and fantastic sculpture garden) at Millesgården.
Reliving pop music history at ABBA the Museum
You might want to broaden your horizons further while visiting Stockholm and learn about other cultures. Not a problem! We have museums of Far Eastern Antiquities, Mediterranean history and World Cultures. Hot tip: these museums have free admission. And they aren't the only ones. All State run museums have free admission since the beginning of 2016. Here is the complete list. For the other museums, you can purchase a Stockholm Pass which gets you into these museums as well as covers most sightseeing tours with Strömma. Here at the Rival Hotel, we sell the Pass to our hotel guests during the high season (May to September).
Crucifix at Medieval Museum
Photographer: Anders Hviid
Any other museums in Stockholm? Absolutely... we have a Natural History Museum, a Biology Museum, Sports Museum, Technology Museum, Dance Museum, Police Museum, Postal Museum, Spirits Museum and much more. Confusing? There is a website dedicated to all of the museums in Stockholm and they even have an app you can download which will be helpful to have while visiting Stockholm. Or, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, you can just contact me directly for more information.
Tyrannosaurus Rex at Natural History Museum
Photographer: Annica Roos/Naturhistoriska riksmuseet

January 5, 2018

Outlet Shopping in Barkarby

I wrote about outlet shopping almost 5 years ago and, as I visited Barkarby this past weekend, I thought it was a good time for an update. Swedish fashion brands have become very trendy over the past few years, but shopping in Stockholm can be a bit expensive for visitors. A good option is to head out to Stockholm Quality Outlet. Here you can find great deals of up to 70% off the regular prices! If you are visiting from a non European Union country, you can also save up to 19% more by shopping tax-free with Global Blue.
You have a wide variety of labels/stores at Quality Outlet. Many of large Swedish fashion labels are there like Filippa K, J. Lindeberg, Acne Studios, JC Jeans Company, Björn Borg and Nudie Jeans. But they also have a lot of international brands like Benetton, Calvin Klein, Lexington, Guess and Tommy Hilfiger as well sportswear labels like Puma and Nike. While it is almost 90% fashion at the outlets, you do have a few stores that sell homeware like Le Creuset and Home & Cook. I  hadn't been there for the past six months and was pleased to see that they have expanded with a whole new wing. All in all, they have 70 stores carrying more than 160 brands.
The outlet area is set up like a village with streets. Keep in mind that these "streets" aren't covered so, if it is raining or snowing, have an umbrella with you just in case. You do have some casual lunch options there as well (cafés and fast food). There are several other larger stores in the same neighborhood; IKEA for example.
Barkarby is a small suburb, located northwest of central Stockholm. It is an area that is constantly growing with everything from new stores to new apartment complexes. I usually visit the outlets once or twice a year and often have a hard time recognizing the area. There are even plans to extend a subway line there. But until that is done, the best way to get there from town is a commuter train and then bus. It all takes about 40 minutes and is quite easy. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, you can easily pick up the commuter train at the nearby Stockholm Södra Station. Happy shopping!

January 2, 2018

Chen Man Exhibition at Fotografiska

I hope that everyone had a nice New Year's celebration! It is 2018 now and time to get back to some more normal, non-holiday themed blogging. Fortunately, I had some family visiting this past weekend for the holidays so I took them to Fotografiska (the Swedish Museum of Photography) to see the new exhibition "Fearless & Fabulous" by Chen Man (runs until March 4th).
If you have been following this blog then you know that Fotografiska is one of my favorite museums in Stockholm to visit... mainly because they constantly have new and exciting exhibitions each season and they usually offer an interesting mix of exhibitions with different styles and points of view. The space is also great and the waterfront location means that the café and restaurant on the top floor have stunning views of the harbor.
Chen Man is a Chinese photographer and graphic designer, working mainly in the world of fashion photography. She is a real pioneer of the medium in China. Her images marry photography and graphic design in a really interesting way through her use of photoshopping, adding layers to the images. I also love the way she intertwines Chinese mythology and history with her hyper-modern imagery.
The images are colorful and beautiful and visiting the exhibition is a nice way to liven up a dreary winter day in Stockholm. The exhibition shares a floor in the museum with another exhibition "Silent Land" by Åsa Sjöström (runs until Feb 4th), which shows everyday life in Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe. Beautiful photographs and an interesting contrast to the colorful, rich images in the Chen Man exhibition next door.
On the first floor of the museum, you have another interesting exhibition... completely different from the aforementioned two exhibitions: "Inside Out" by Nick Veasey (runs until Feb 18th). The name of the exhibit is very fitting as Nick Veasey uses X-ray photography exposing the insides of his subjects. And it isn't only people. Veasey uses large-scale X-ray cameras so we can see the inside of airplanes, a surfer heading to the beach in a VW Beetle or even a bus filled with passengers.
Fotografiska has very generous opening hours, closing at 11pm on Sundays through Wednesdays and at 1am on Thursdays through Saturdays... so it is easy to squeeze in a visit if you are in town for only a short time and have a full agenda. They also have a fantastic restaurant there in the evenings and make sure you visit their gift shop before leaving. The shop has one of the best collections of photography books I have ever come across.
To get there from the Rival Hotel, it is just a 20 minute walk along the waterfront. Otherwise the closest subway stop is Slussen (red and green lines) and from there it is just a 10 minute walk. They are doing a lot of construction at Slussen... but just follow the signs for Fotografiska! Click here if you want to see what other art exhibitions are currently ongoing in Stockholm.

December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's!

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a wonderful end to 2017! God Jul och Gott Nytt År!
Christmas is finally over... all the Christmas markets have closed for this season and restaurants have stopped serving the traditional julbord. However, the city is still lit up with the official holiday lights and decorations. Curious how museums are open during the holidays? Click here for the answer. Or maybe you want to know how stores will be open? Click here for the answer. New Year's Eve is just a few days away. Have you made plans yet? I hope so as most restaurants are fully booked. Especially during the coveted late seating times.
I will be back soon with some regular blogging!

December 15, 2017

Winter Art Exhibitions 2017-18

Gingerbread House at ArkDes
Photo by: Viktoria Garvare
Take a break from Christmas markets, holiday celebrationswinter activities and New Year's fireworks and enjoy a little culture at one of Stockholm's many great museums! Besides some amazing attractions and museums focusing on history, we also have a wide variety of art museums and major galleries with classic art, sculpture, modern art, photography, street art and much more. Here is a list of the major art exhibitions going on this winter. Click here to see the list for this past autumn (some exhibitions run through autumn into part of winter). If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and are interested in smaller art galleries or need more information, contact me directly.

Remember that these museums will all have special opening hours during the holiday season. I have collected this information in an blog article you can see by clicking here
Tristan Eaton at Magic City
Photo by Frank Embacher

    December 13, 2017

    Restaurant Carousel

    I have still managed to visit a restaurant or two in the middle of the busy Christmas season. This time it was restaurant Carousel in the form of a dinner with my fellow Swedish Les Clefs d'Or members. Carousel is a primarily a meat and shellfish restaurant and its menu is filled with dishes and flavors from southern Europe and especially Mallorca. Besides the restaurant itself, Carousel has a great cocktail bar where they currently have live jazz on Wednesday evenings.
    Carousel has a great location as well! It is located right on the square Gustav Adolfs torg, next door to the Royal Opera and across the stream from the Royal Palace. Very central and great place for a pre-opera meal, post-opera drink or a dinner after an afternoon of shopping at the nearby NK department store. The closest subway station is Kungsträdgården (blue line), though it is not far from T-Centralen either (all lines).
    Cockles and razor clams
    On this evening, we were treated to many of their signature dishes to get a feel for their menu. We started with a charcuterie plate filled with Spanish sausages and meats. That was followed with a fantastic selection of grilled shellfish... cockles, razor clams and Spanish scallops. Very delicious with a taste of charcoal grill, white wine, lemon and garlic. After that we were served Sherry braised ox cheeks with cauliflower purée.
    Ox cheek
    The pièce de résistance however was the next dish... a sharing dish of suckling pig with crackling, gravy, salad and aioli. Thankfully, the dessert was quite light after all of that food; a lemon curd with cardamom crumble and pistachio. The fresh tartness of the lemon curd was the perfect ending to the dinner. You can book your table on their website under the "boka bord" function or, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly for help. Click here for other restaurant reviews/recommendations.
    Chef prepares the...
    ...suckling pig. 

    December 6, 2017

    Holiday Opening Hours for Shopping Centers and Department Stores 2017-18

    Christmas is almost upon us! I have already written about special opening hours for museums and sightseeing tours. Now for those of you who are interested in a little holiday shopping. Stores and boutiques all, of course, have their own individual opening hours during the holidays. But you can generally say that they close early on December 24th & 31st and are closed on December 25th and January 1st. There are always exceptions to the rule! Here are the special holiday opening hours (days that deviate from regular opening hours) for some of the larger department stores, markets and shopping centers. Take a look at their websites for information about other specific dates. Interested in Christmas markets? The last day for these markets is December 23rd. Click here for a full list of markets and their opening dates/hours. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and want to know the opening hours of smaller independent stores, contact me directly!
    • NK department store: open from 10am to 9pm on the days leading up to Christmas. 10am to 2pm on December24th, closed on December 25th, open from 10am to 5pm on December 31st and closed on January 1st.
    • Åhlens City department store: open from 10am to 8pm on the days leading up to Christmas. 10am to 3pm on December24th, 11am to 8pm on December 25th and from 10am to 6pm on December 31st and closed on January 1st.
    • Mall of Scandinavia: open from 10am to 10pm on the days leading up to Christmas, 10am to 4pm on December 24th, closed on December 25th, open from 10am to 4pm on December 31st and closed (?) on January 1st. Keep in mind that certain parts of the mall (restaurants, cinema) may have different opening hours. 
    • Mood shopping center: Open 10am to 9pm on the days leading up to Christmas, 10am to 1pm on December 24th, closed on December 25th, open from 10am to 4pm on December 31st and closed on January 1st.
    • Gallerian shopping center:  open from 10am to 9pm on the days leading up to Christmas. 10am to 2pm on December24th, closed on December 25th, open from 11am to 4pm on December 31st and closed on January 1st (ongoing renovations in certain parts of the shopping center).
    • Sturegallerian shopping center: open from 10am to 8pm on the days leading up to Christmas. 10am to 2pm on December 24th, closed on December 25th, open from 10am to 4pm on December 31st and closed on January 1st.
    • Skrapan shopping center: open from 10am to 8pm on the weekdays leading up to Christmas . 10am to 2pm on December 24th, closed on December 25th, open from 10am to 4pm on December 31st and closed on January 1st.
    • Barkarby Outlets: closed on December 24th and 25th, open from 10am to 4pm on the 31st and closed on January 1st.
    • Östermalms Saluhall (indoor food market): closed on Sundays and December 24th, 25th and 26th, open from 9:30am to 5pm on Dec 31st and closed on January 1st.
    • Systembolaget (state run liquor stores): They are closed on Sundays, December 24th, 25th and 26th. On December 31st they close at 2pm and are completely closed on January 1st. So... plan your booze shopping wisely!
    The days in between Christmas and New Year's are called mellandagarna ("middle days") and are some of the biggest shopping days of the year. This is due to the sales! Keep your eyes open for signs saying rea ("sale") or mellandagsrea ("middle day sale"). Buying electronics is especially popular during these days. It is good to know that December 26th is a bank holiday here in Sweden ("Annandag jul" or second day of Christmas), though most stores are open on this day... but banks, liquor stores, smaller pharmacies will be closed.

    December 2, 2017

    Outdoor Ice Skating Rink at Kungsträdgården

    A sure sign that the winter season is upon us... the outdoor ice skating rink in Kungsträdgården has opened for the season! This is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. Using the rink is free of charge for everyone. If you don't have your own skates with you, then they do have skates available for rental. 70 SEK per hour for adults (19 and over) and 30 SEK per hour for children. You can pay with credit or debit card and a helmet is included with the price.
    They have generous opening hours: 9am to 9pm on weekdays and 10am to 9pm on the weekends. You don't have to worry about the weather. Even if the temperature is above freezing, they have a cooling system that keeps the ice frozen. The rink is lit up with Christmas lights and they play music so there is a festive atmosphere. Kungsträdgården is very central and it is located right in the downtown area, across the street from the NK department store. So, this is a perfect spot to take break when doing your holiday shopping!

    November 29, 2017

    Museums and Sightseeing During the Holiday Season 2017

    Dancing around the tree (at Skansen)
    Photo by Pernille Tofte/Skansen
    I have been getting quite a few questions already about what guests can do when they are in Stockholm during the Christmas and New Year season, so I thought that I would go ahead and post this... a list of the main museums and attractions in Stockholm and which days they will be closed. Lots of closures, but there is always at least two museums open each day as well as a sightseeing tour, so you won't have to just aimlessly wander the streets without anything to do! Each museum is linked to their website so you can check exact hours and get more information. Stockholm does have around 80 museums and attractions. I obviously can't list them all so, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly for information about other museums. You will find some information about sightseeing after the list.
    The Vasa Ship
    Photo by Yanan Li/mediabank.visitstockholm.com 

    • Skansen (open air museum and zoo)- open every day, free entrance on Dec 24th.
    • Vasa Museum (17th century preserved warship)- closed on Dec 23rd to 25th and Jan 1st. Closes early (3pm) on Dec 31st. 
    • ABBA the Museum (self explanatory, no?)- closed only on Dec 24th! 
    • Fotografiska (photography)- closed only on Dec 24th! 
    • Moderna (modern art)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 31st & Jan 1st, otherwise closed on Mondays. 
    • Center for Architecture and Design- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 31st & Jan 1st, otherwise closed on Mondays. 
    • Nobel Museum (Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prizes)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 31st & Jan 1st, otherwise closed on Mondays. 
    • Historiska (Swedish history/Vikings)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th and 31st. Closed on Mondays, but open on Jan 1st. 
    • Nordiska (cultural history)- open every day! 
    • Medeltidsmuseet (medieval history of Stockholm)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 31st and Jan 1st. Otherwise closed on Mondays. 
    • Stadshuset (city hall)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 26th and Jan 1st. Shorter hours on other days during this period. 
    • Vikingaliv (Vikings)- closed on Dec 23rd, 24th and 25th. Closes early (3pm) on Dec 31st. 
    • Spritmuseum (spirits, as in adult beverages)- closed Dec 24th, 25th, 31st and Jan 1st. 
    • The Royal Palace- closed Dec 24th and 25th. Closed on Mondays except Jan 1st when the Royal Apartments will be open. Check the website for the different museums within the palace (i.e. The Treasury). 
    • Livrustkammaren (Royal Armoury)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st and Jan 1st. Otherwise closed on Mondays. 
    • Millesgården (sculpture & art)- closed on Dec 24th and 25th and closes early (3pm) on Dec 31st. Closed on Mondays but will be open on Jan 1st. 
    • Thielska Galleriet (art)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st and Jan 1st. Closed otherwise on Mondays.
    • Prins Eugens Waldermarsudde (art)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 31st and Jan 1st. Otherwise closed on Mondays.
    • Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum (art)- closed on Dec 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st, Jan 1st and 2nd. 
    • Naturhistoriska (natural history)- closed on Dec 23rd and 24th. Closed on Mondays but will be open on Dec 25th and Jan 1st!
    • Drottningholm Palace- closed between Dec11th and 30th. Will be open daily between Dec 31st and Jan 7th during the Swedish winter school break). After that just on Saturdays and Sundays until April.
    • Junibacken (the world of Astrid Lindgren, for children)- closed on Dec 24th and 25th. 
    At ABBA the Museum!
    In regards to sightseeing... Strömma will be offering different sightseeing tours during this period, like their Panorama bus tour (daily), Archipelago boat tour (most days, though not Dec 24th), Winter boat tour (daily from Dec 18th) as well as the Hop-On/Off bus (daily). Free Tour Stockholm will have daily tours... check website for tours and times. If you are interested in a private tour, check OURWAY Tours or book your own authorized guide
    Christmas at Skeppsbron
    Photo by Henrik Trygg/mediabank.visitstockholm.com