It’s Friday night and the lights are low. I’m in downtown Stockholm and, following a visit to the Abba Museum, looking out for a place to go.
Sweden, like Scandinavia as a whole, once had the reputation for being a prohibitively expensive place for a night on the town. Years ago I remember a fella who’d just returned from a business trip bemoaning “they charge you a tenner a pint!” in an outraged tone. I’d wager, though, that nobody forced him into a bar.
Times have changed. Going out in the UK has become markedly more expensive in recent years, so perhaps we don’t mind paying a little more when exploring the nightlife in far flung, foreign lands? Also, based upon my research over the first weekend in February 2015, a beer in a popular city centre bar in downtown Stockholm now costs nothing near a tenner. I paid between 56 (around £4.30) and 77 crowns (£5.90) a drink.
Rather than going online for tips on where to experience Stockholm’s nightlife, I undertook my research on the ground. The concierge at Berns Hotel provided helpful pointers, suggesting Nosh and Chow (Norrlandsgatan 24, tel. +46 (0)8 5033 8960) and the Grand Escalier (Sturegallerian 4, tel. +46 (0)8 5194 2272) as potential starting points.
Within Sturegallerian Shopping Mall
While on the lookout for the latter, within a smart Stockholm shopping mall, I stumbled upon Tures Brasserie and Bar (Sturegallerian 10, tel. +46 (0)8 611 0210). This stylish bar is located under an arched atrium ceiling, has leather-backed booths and an inviting atmosphere. It buzzes with the conversations of well-dressed locals meeting for post-work drinks. It’s a fine spot to stop for a cocktail or an early evening beer.
Grand Escalier is up on the first floor of the mall. People were standing shoulder to shoulder by the time I arrived and queuing two deep by the bar. I observed as an earnest looking cocktail waiter prepared drinks with entertaining verve. A handful of local beers are served on draught, so I selected a glass of Norrlands Guld.
Heading out onto the terrace I noted the bar outside was serving drinks. However, on a chilled winter night I preferred cosy indoor spot by the fireside. Grand Escalier really is a popular meeting place so arrive early if you want a seat.
Established as a Beerhall
Downstairs I ventured into Sturehof (Stureplan 2, tel. +46 (0)8 440 5730) which opened as a German style beerhall in 1897. The restaurant serves a range of traditional Swedish dishes but I headed into bar and ordered a beer from one of the uniformed staff.
Sturehof has a timeless elegance and is a good place for people watching. The tiled bar has a marble ledge for drinks and a hip vibe, thanks in part to the work of the DJ. Out on the heated terrace, I stood under a canopy and watched life unfold on Birger Jarlsgatan, one of Stockholm’s main thoroughfares.
An Elk or a Moose?
My last port of call, prior to returning to my hotel, was Broken (Kungsgatan 18, tel. +46 (0)8 5451 0633) a vast, multi-room bar-restaurant. What I took to be an elk stood motionless on the bar, towering over me as I ordered my drink (Really. I swear that my powers of observation were still intact). For good measure one of his antler-bearing forest buddies stared out from the white-tiled wall.
While at Broken a couple of locals suggested I should take a look at the Café Opera (Karl XII’s torg, tel. +46 (0)8 676 5807) nightclub. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Maybe next time?
Clubbing Through the Night
On returning to Berns I requested a VIP wristband from the concierge. Any guest booking direct with the hotel can make use of the VIP bands, which provide priority access to a number of Stockholm’s leading clubs.
The club within Berns cellar is named 2.35:1, after the video format that was once screened here. Artwork is now displayed on the walls, changing every couple of months. If you want to take a good look around, then arrive before 1.00am, when the club starts to become busy. Alternatively stay until closing time, at 5.00am.
Alas, I’m not a dancer. The elk atop of the bar in Broken may well have moved with more fluidity than I did on 2.35:1’s dancefloor, despite the best efforts of the guest DJ.
Returning to my room after a night out has rarely been as easy. No long walk. No need for a taxi. All I needed to do was call the lift in the lobby and head upstairs, taking with me positive impressions of Stockholm’s nightlife.
Berns (Nächströmgatan 8, tel. +46 (0)8 5663 2200) is a boutique hotel with two restaurants, a bar, a concert hall and a nightclub. The VIP wristbands also provide priority access to Ambassadeur, Hell’s Kitchen, Sturecompagniet, The Spy Bar and The White Room.
Abba The Museum (Djurgårdsvägen 68, +46 (0)8 1213 2860) is an interactive attraction telling the story of the Swedish pop group. It is located within the same building as the Swedish Music Hall of Fame.
Find out more about the Swedish capital via the Visit Stockholm website.
Direct flights between London and Stockholm take around 2 hours 30 minutes.