With Swedish brands like Saab, Volvo, Ericsson, Absolut, Electrolux, IKEA and H&M housed here, Stockholm pulls a business punch that’s way out of proportion with its diminutive size. The creative industries play a central role here, reportedly employing 40,000 staff in this city of 800,000. So-Fo (the South of Folkungagatan area of Södermalm) is an up-and-coming hub for small companies and entrepreneurs. Pop music is a big earner, too—Madonna is among the stars who come here to produce albums.
Although Arlanda Airport is stylish, there isn’t much to detain you. However, the Arlanda Express train is an exceptionally fast and comfortable way to reach the city center.
With a superb waterfront location and stunning views of Gamla Stan (Old Town), the Grand Hôtel (Blasieholmshamnen 8, +46 8 679 3500, grandhotel.se) favors a modern version of the traditional Swedish Gustavian style. The hotel has four restaurants, two of them standouts headed by award-winning chef Mathias Dahlgren, with decor by Ilse Crawford: the elegant Matsalen and the more casual Matbaren.
The Cadier Bar at the Grand Hôtel (see above) is a popular choice for good reason: The food is excellent and the setting is stylish and discreet, just like the service.
Gondolen (Stadsgården 6, +46 8 641 7090)—with its amazing high-rise views and widely praised food—is always popular for both meals and drinks. Ask for a table on the roof terrace. Another good option for both lunch and dinner is Sturehof (Stureplan 2, +46 8 440 5730), which looks as good as its wonderful Baltic seafood tastes—and it’s not flashy, so it fits in well with Swedish tastes. Another obvious choice is Matsalen, at the Grand Hôtel (see above).
Head out to lunch at the Rosendals Trädgård (Rosendalsterrassen 12, +46 8 545 812 70, rosendalstradgard.se) on the wooded island of Djurgarden. Established in 1984, the restaurant uses only biodynamic produce grown on the premises. The food tastes even better in the Trädgård’s idyllic orchard. Follow your meal with a walk around the island’s woods and waterfronts. If you have more time, take a ferry to the beautiful, sailing-mad island of Sandhamm (three hours each way)—the perfect natural break.
Sweden is an extremely egalitarian society. Decision-making is rarely a top-down process, so do not make the mistake of ignoring the lower ranks. Also bear in mind that Swedes aren’t as chatty as North Americans—silence here is savored, rather than seen as a result of shyness or embarrassment.
• The outdoors: Swedes are devoted to the natural life, and hiking, sailing and other activities are topics of great interest.
• Ice hockey: It’s the national sport, but soccer is also followed keenly.
• Swedish culture and history, and how it’s different from that of the rest of Scandinavia.