March 31, 2011

Albert Watson at Fotografiska

My friends and I stopped by at the photography museum, Fotografiska, to check out the new Albert Watson exhibition (March 25th to June 12th). Albert Watson is a favorite photographer of mine and has been named as one of the top 20 most influential photographers of all time. The exhibition consists of 120 photos encompassing everything from fashion to landscape to portraits. Great stuff! Other good news... slowly but surely, Fotografiska is revamping their café and restaurant on the top floor. You can now have a glass of wine after touring the museum and enjoy some of the best views of Stockholm.
View of the icy Baltic from the top floor restaurant
The museum is open daily between 10am and 9pm. Entrance costs 120 SEK, 80 SEK for students and seniors and free for children under 12. It is located on the waterfront of Södermalm, just a 20 minute walk from the Rival Hotel.

March 30, 2011

Casino Cosmopol

Interested in doing a little gambling during your visit in Stockholm? Many bars and nightclubs in town will have a blackjack or roulette table, but Stockholm has only one true casino, called Casino Cosmopol. It is located in the downtown area, a stone's throw from the train station. The casino is state-owned and all profits go to the state treasury. If you go to Casino Cosmopol expecting Bondesque jet-setters, scantily clad showgirls and free drinks at the gambling tables then you will be a little disappointed. However, if you are a gamblin' man then this is the place to be! There is a wide-range of games and tables. Here you will find slot machines, poker, blackjack, roulette, poker tournaments and much more. I'm not much of a gambler, but I've been there a few times and had a good time! The building itself is quite spectacular with a long and interesting history. There is a nice restaurant there as well as a couple of bars and they do have entertainment, especially on the weekends, in the form of live music. The casino does offer special packages that include admission, a meal and an introduction to the games. You will find bank machines as well as a money exchange office inside the premises. The casino is open every day between 1pm and 5am (year round).

Some good things to know before going to the casino: The entrance fee is 30 SEK and you must be at least 20 years of age. Foreign guests are required to have their passport with them, Swedish guests need to have photo i.d. and all guests are registered and photographed before entering for security reasons. While there is no dress code, the casino prefers that their guests dress smartly (no jeans with holes, etc;). Mobile phones must be switched off when around the game tables (no cameras allowed in that area as well). The closest subway station is T-Centralen(all lines). To get there from the Rival Hotel, just take the subway (red line) from Mariatorget to T-Centralen.

March 26, 2011

ABBA- The Walk!

Bengt H. Malmqvist © Premium Rockshot
People often wonder why Stockholm doesn't take more advantage of its association with ABBA... like Liverpool does with the Beatles and Detroit does with Motown. Heaven knows that there is a market! For a few years now there has been talk of an ABBA museum, but the plans keep getting delayed. Now the Stockholm City Museum is doing something about it. The museum, responsible for the highly popular Stieg Larsson Millenium Walking Tour, will be offering a guided tour of the city this summer with ABBA as the theme... called ABBA: The Walk.
They are starting with tours in Swedish on May 19th (Saturdays) and then they will be offering tours in English every Friday and Saturday at 4pm in July, August and September. The tour is about 2 hours long and costs 120 SEK per person. Tickets can be purchased at the museum or on Ticnet. They also have a special city map with all ABBA related places marked out for sale at the museum (40 SEK).
The Stockholm City Museum is located at Slussen, just a 10 minute walk from the Rival Hotel. And who knows... maybe the hotel (owned by Benny Andersson and the venue of the gala premiere of Mamma Mia The Movie) will be on the tour?
And for a little inspiration:

March 24, 2011

Tip #20- Stockholm on a Budget

Stockholm has a reputation for being one of the more expensive cities in Europe. If that feels daunting in these tough economic times, then help is on the way! There is a website called Gratis i Stockholm ("Free in Stockholm") that collects information about events, happenings and places that are all free of charge. You can search by category (like Museum, Concert, Children, Market, Festival, etc;) or by calendar date. The website is in Swedish, but I have linked the Google Translate English page. This can cause a few giggles with the translations, but all of the basic information is there. Besides their website, you can also get information through their weekly updates on their Facebook page.
A little extra tip from me... in the Rival Bistro Bar & Cocktail Bar you can enjoy delicious cocktails and listen to DJ's play smooth tunes (several nights a week) and we never charge an entrance fee, making it a popular place for locals and visitors alike! More information and opening hours can be found on our website (linked just above).
Click here for more helpful tips!

March 23, 2011

New Art Gallery & Museum in Stockholm

Sven-Harry's Konstmuseum
Stockholm is getting a new art museum and gallery: Sven-Harry's Konstmuseum... opening this Sunday, March 27th. Behind this museum is Sven-Harry Karlsson, founder of the construction company Folkhem and an avid art collector. The building itself (by Wingårdhs Architects) is quite startling with the facade covered in shiny brass. I've already heard it referred to as Scrooge McDuck's golden vault. The building will contain a museum, gallery, restaurant as well as apartments. The penthouse sounds truly spectacular. Opening later in the year on December 8th (Sven-Harry's 80th birthday), it will be a replica of his 1700's mansion and filled with his collection of contemporary Swedish art. Can't wait to see that! The museum is located in the Vasastan area of the city next to the Vasa Park, the closest subway station is St Eriksplan (green line). It will be open Wednesday through Sunday 11am to 5pm except on Thursday when it will be open 12pm to 8pm. Entrance will cost 60 SEK, free for children under 19.
Bonnier's Konsthall
One good thing about Sven-Harry's location is that it is only a 5-10 minute walk from another art venue Bonnier's Konsthall. It opened in 2006 and quickly became very popular with art lovers. Here you can find art exhibits, listen to seminars and view new art projects. There is a studio as well and Bonnier works closely with emerging artists. Location. It is open from 12pm to 7pm Monday through Friday and 11am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Entrance is 70 SEK and free for children under 19.
As I said, both Sven-Harry's Konstmuseum and Bonnier's Konsthall are very close to each other and both are easily reached from the Rival Hotel by taking the subway (green line from Slussen to St Eriksplan).

March 22, 2011

Restaurants- "Och Himlen Därtill"

View looking north-east
Continuing on the restaurant theme... my colleagues and I were invited by the restaurant Och Himlen Därtill to come by a see the restaurant (after recent renovations) and have a drink and a bite to eat. Loosely translated, the name means "And Heaven as Well" and is a reference to their location at the top of a 104 meter high building with great 360 degree views of Stockholm. The city is pretty devoid of really tall buildings, so this is one of the taller buildings and there are no others in the vicinity to block the view. I blogged about the restaurant earlier when I discussed places with a great view in Stockholm. The restaurant takes up the top two floors... the Sky Bar on the top floor and the diningroom one floor down. The menu concentrates mainly on Swedish cuisine using a lot of local produce like reindeer, buckthorn, bleak roe and truffles from Gotland. It is a bit more expensive than other restaurants in the neighborhood, but as the old saying goes: location, location, location. Speaking of which, the restaurant is located just a 15 minute walk away from the Rival Hotel on the border of the SoHo neighbourhood. Besides the restaurant, the building also houses the Skrapan shopping center... so it is the perfect place to stop off for a cocktail and watch the sunset after a long days shopping in SoFo and Skrapan. It is open between 5pm and 1am Monday through Thursday, 4pm and 3am on Friday and Saturday, closed on Sunday.
View west towards the sunset
 You can see some great pictures on their Swedish page by clicking here.
Click here for an earlier blog entry about SoFo and Skrapan.

March 18, 2011

Michelin Guide 2011

(Post from 2011- to see current list click here!) Hot on the heels of the White Guide comes the next ranking of Stockholm's best restaurants. This time it is the internationally prestigious Michelin Guide. Gourmands and foodies wait eagerly every year for this list... who will gain a star? Who will lose a star? This year it was a bit anti-climatic as there were no changes to the list and ranking from 2010. To help you understand, here is how Michelin rates restaurants using a 1 to 3 star basis. One star means that the restaurant has "very good cuisine in its category", "excellent cuisine, worth a detour" will give a restaurant two stars while three stars are awarded to restaurants with "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey". No restaurants in Sweden have three stars, but Stockholm is the only city in Scandinavia with two restaurants that have been awarded 2 stars. Here is 2011's list:

2 Stars:

1 Star:

There is another category awarded by Michelin called Bib Gourmand which is for restaurants with "good food at moderate prices". Here are the Stockholm restaurants that made that list this year:

You might notice that Oaxen Krog, considered one of the top 50 restaurants of the world, is missing from the list. This is because the Michelin Guide for Stockholm is a city guide, and the hour drive to the restaurant from Stockholm disqualifies it.

March 17, 2011

Sightseeing + Jogging = True!

Stockholm Jogging Tours is the newest addition to the constellation of guided tours of the city. Stockholm is a great city for jogging with the large amount of parks, water and interesting sights. I have blogged earlier about jogging paths around the city. But now you can take a jog with a guide who explains historical and fun facts of the city. This means that if you are short on time you don't need to choose between your daily jog and taking in some sightseeing. Multi-tasking at its best! They have three set jogging tours (Urban, Nature and Waterside) or you can customize your own tour with them ahead of time. The tours are designed for runners of all levels of ability.
The cost to take part in one of their scheduled tours cost 300 SEK per person (1 hour), otherwise they have a price list for customized tours. You can book a tour via their website or contact them directly. A fun (& healthy) way to see the city!

March 15, 2011

Best Brunch in Stockholm!

About 10 years ago, I pitched the idea of brunch to several restaurants here in Stockholm. They seemed to be leery of this American dining concept and I usually got the same answer... "why would anyone want to eat a big meal in the middle of a Sunday?". Well, these days brunch has become quite popular in Stockholm with many restaurants offering brunch on weekends. Even the tour company Strömma offers a brunch boat tour, as I've blogged about earlier.
Now, I know you think I might be a bit biased in saying this... but the Bistro Rival has one of the best brunches in Stockholm. It has become so popular with Stockholmers that guests need to reserve a table at least a week in advance. Otherwise there is usally seating in the bar and lounge areas for drop-in guests. The buffet tables are ladden with both warm and cold dishes... classics and Swedish additions. Eggs & bacon, pancakes, smoked salmon, lasagne, steak tartare, several sallads, coldcuts, fresh breads from the bakery, milkshakes, coffees & cocktails... not to mention the desserts! For more information, click here.
Brunch is served on Sundays from 1pm to 5pm. The cost is 265 SEK (all you can eat!). The last day for brunch before we take a summer break is May 22nd... opening again for business on August 21st. To make a reservation, send a request to bistro@rival.se

Tip #19- Ultimate Shopping Guides

Is shopping a priority during your visit to Stockholm? Do you wish to have personal help in navigating through the multitude of stores in the city? Then do I have the perfect tip for you... the company Smart City Shopping. They offer great services for the shopping enthusiasts. I have met with Pia and Lotta of Smart City Shopping a couple of times and I can honestly say that I have never met anyone with more knowledge of stores and brands in Stockholm. You can hire them as your own personal shopper/guide and they are quite flexible, whether you are alone or in a group. They have a close working relationship with several stores and brands and can even arrange visits to some stores outside of regular opening hours... a great way to avoid crowds. A car or minibus can also be arranged if you are going to be doing some serious shopping and want to avoid carrying bags around from store to store.
Otherwise, if you want to go it on your own, they have come out with a wonderful shopping map of Stockholm. Here you will find shops and boutiques of all kinds mapped out in the city, color coded to make it easier for you to find the perfect stores. You can preorder the map on their website, otherwise we do have a limited number of maps for sale to hotel guests at the Rival Hotel. If you are staying at the hotel, contact me in advance and I will hold a map for you. In the near future, they will have an interactive shopping map available on their website... great for you who are travelling with a smart phone or Ipad. This should be up and running before the summer season kicks in! It is important to note that Pia and Lotta have actually visited each store, boutique and shop marked on the map and are therefore personally recommended by them.
For contact information... click here!

March 10, 2011

Jeanloup Sieff Exhibition

Yesterday I visited the Modern Art Museum (Moderna Museet) to see the Jeanloup Sieff exhibition. Sieff was an award wining French fashion and portrait photographer who passed away in 2000. It's a great showing of some of his best black & white photographs. I'm not sure if Moderna is responding to recent competition from Stockholm's new photography museum Fotografiska, but they seem to be giving more room to modern photography. Besides the Sieff exhibition, the museum is putting 1,000 photos from their collection on display (Focusing on Photography!) throughout 2011 in three different exhibitions. I'm in no way complaining, mind you... I love photography as art and I'm looking forward to seeing how this focus will evolve throughout 2011. And here is an earlier blog entry of mine about the museum for more information...
The Modern Art Museum is located on the island of Skeppsholmen and is open from 10am to 6pm Wednesday through Sunday, 10am to 8pm on Tuesday, closed on Monday. Admisssion is 100 SEK for adults, 80 SEK for students & seniors, free for children 18 years and under. Free entrance with the Stockholm Card. To get there from the Rival Hotel... the easiest way is by the Djurgårds ferry from Slussen. Make sure you tell them you are going to Skeppsholmen when they take your ticket as the ferry stops at two islands.
Click here for more art and museum exhibitions this Spring.

March 9, 2011

The White Guide- 2011

(ATTENTION- this is the list for 2011, Here is the list for 2014)
The White Guide is the ultimate guide to Sweden's best restaurants. The guide is in Swedish, but your intrepid blogger is here to translate some of the more important information for you... namely the announcement of their list of 2011's best restaurants! Here are a few of the categories and their winners:
Otherwise, here is their list of the top 10 restaurants (international master class) in Stockholm over the past year:

1. Frantzén & Lindeberg
(tie)1. Oaxens Krog
3. Operakällaren
4. F12
(tie)4. Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen (the Dining Room)
6. Esperanto
7. Mistral
8. Lux
9. Pontus!
10. Mathias Dahlgren Matbaren (the Food Bar)

Bon appétit! Or as we say in Sweden... smaklig måltid! If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me for further information about these restaurants.

Stockholm Subway Art

The Stockholm subway system has been called the world's longest art exhibition. As a Stockholmer, I appreciate the art... gives you something to look at as you wait for your subway! Each station is different (some better than others) and the art is in the form of sculptures, reliefs, painted walls/ceilings, poetry and other forms. Some of my personal favorites are on the blue line, like Kungsträdgården (all pictures here) and Rådhuset. The company that runs the subways and buses, and is responsible for the art, is called SL and they have a great brochure about the art available in pdf-form. SL also offers guided tours of the subway art- year round in Swedish and in English during the summer. For more information contact SL at konstguide@gmail.com or visit a SL Center located at the T-Centalen, Slussen (10 minute walk from the Rival Hotel) or Fridhemsplan subway stations. But a guide isn't necessary if you want to keep it simple... just keep your eyes open while traveling the Stockholm subways!

Click here for information about public transportation in Stockholm!

March 1, 2011

Royal Palace Sprint

From: http://www.royalpalacesprint.se/
There is a fun annual event coming up this month, March 16th to be exact. It's the Royal Palace Sprint, a cross country skiing competition taking place in the Old Town (Gamla Stan) right in the heart of Stockholm. The course is set around the Royal Palace and if all of the snow in the city has melted then they truck in new snow! There are not many professional skiing competitions that take place in the middle of a city and there usually is a fun atmosphere. This race is part of the World Cup finals so all of the big ski stars usually show up to race for valuable points before heading up to Falun in the north and the distance events. The races (Men & Women) go on all afternoon with the following approximate times:
Qualification round: 2pm
Opening ceremonies: 3:30pm
Quarter finals: 3:45pm
Semifinals: 4:30pm
Finals: 5pm
Award ceremonies: 5:30pm

The Royal Palace is easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... just a 15 minute walk. Otherwise you can take the subway to the Gamla Stan station (red & green lines).