A literature obsessive's guide to Stockholm

A literature obsessive's guide to Stockholm | Soho House

Swedish author and Soho House Stockholm member Jerker Virdborg talks us through his favourite places to eat, drink, see and explore in the city – including his top writing spots

Thursday 15 December   By Soho House

Stockholm may be a small city but what the Swedish capital lacks in size, it more than makes up for in history, culture and architecture. No matter the time of year, there’s plenty to explore, particularly for those who enjoy literature. The city’s charm and design has inspired great novels and been home to many great novelists – just ask author and Soho House Stockholm member, Jerker Virdborg. 

Having made his literary debut in 2001 with the short story collection Land Uplift Two Centimetres Per Night, Virdborg published his first novel, Black Crab, the following year. Twenty years (and plenty of other novels) later, Black Crab has been adapted into a film (released by Netflix earlier this year), starring Swedish actress Noomi Rapace and directed by Adam Berg. 

As one of the most interesting literary voices in Sweden, who better to call on than Virdborg to recommend the best spots to eat, drink, read and draw inspiration from in the city he calls home today? Over to you Jerker…

Stockholm City Guide | Soho House

Soho House Stockholm

Best places to grab a drink 

Operabaren, Kungsträdgården 
‘Serving up traditional Swedish dishes and home to a wonderful art nouveau interior – check out the magnificent glass ceiling.’

Konstnärsbaren, Smålandsgatan  
‘Wonderfully calm, this restaurant is a hangout for actors, writers and the like. Its 1930s interior is a perfect contrast to the posh business quarters just outside the door.’ 

Erlands, Gästrikegatan
‘This has to be Stockholm’s most charming vintage cocktail bar. It’s drinks-only (no food), small and crowded, with live-jazz acts on Saturdays.’

Riche, Birger Jarslgatan
’The small bar to the right of the restaurant is a spot where young creative people have been going for decades. There’s now also a standalone version – Riche Fenix – on Södermalm. Expect both to be crowded – and loud.’

Stockholm City Guide | Soho House


Best for breakfast

Grand Hotel, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 
‘This place has the most generous buffet, with splendid views across Old Town and the Royal Palace.’

Mellqvists, Rörstrandsgatan 
‘Cosy and lively with a genuine city vibe, this café and bar is a big local favourite.’

Valhallabageriet, Valhallavägen 
‘Tiny but irresistible bakery – home to wonderful bread and great service.’

Broms, Karlaplan
‘A modern, fresh, open-all-day place that’s perfect for coffee and a croissant – and morning meetings.’

Stockholm City Guide | Soho House

Above: Grand Hotel

Best restaurants for dinner

Berns Asiatiska, Berzelii Park
‘Home to Stockholm’s first ever Chinese restaurant in the 1940s, it has the most beautiful La Belle Epoque dining room in town and serves up a delicious Pan-Asian menu.’

Farang, Tulegatan 
‘Cool, classy and sober, with an exciting South-East Asian kitchen. It’s situated in a surprisingly big old industrial building that was once home to the Stockholm Electric Company.’

Fotografiska, Stadsgårdskajen 
This cutting-edge photography museum also boasts an award-winning restaurant that serves impressive sustainable food. The menu is that’s plant-focused, though well-sourced meat and fish are usually on offer alongside. Oh, and the view over the water is superb.’

Tennstopet, Odengatan 
‘Slightly bohemian and very charming, this classic spot is highly popular with journalists and offers traditional home cooking – just like 100 years ago.’

Stockholm City Guide | Soho House

Stockholm Public Library

Best cultural sights for inspiration 

August Strindberg’s grave, Norra kyrkogården
Pay tribute to the writer of Miss Julie, The Red Room and many other famous works at this impressively huge cemetery. The tombs of Alfred Nobel and the polar explorer Salomon August Andrée are among some of the other famous names to be found.’ 

Stockholm Public Library, Sveavägen
‘An architectural masterpiece by Gunnar Asplund, dating back to 1928. It was constructed with his very personal take on Swedish grace – the inside of the rotunda is stunning.’

Vasa Museum, Djurgården 
‘A tourist trap, yes, but it has become one for a very good reason: this island museum is home to the only near-complete 17th century ship (it dates to 1628) ever to have been salvaged. Incredibly well-preserved – and big! – this 64-gun warship is a must-see.’

Skogskyrkogården, Enskede
Architectural students come like pilgrims from all over the world to spend an hour or two strolling among the 100.000 graves (one belonging to Greta Garbo) that fill this Unesco World Heritage Site. Set peacefully among pine forests (the name translates to the Woodland Cemetery), it’s not hard to see why.’

Stockholm City Guide | Soho House

Stockholm Archipelago

Best places to read or write 

Djurgården Island
‘Find a bench of your own in this wonderful countryside-like island. Located just a few minutes from Karlaplan, it has some of the finest panoramas of the city.’

Storkyrkan, Old Town
‘Admire the medieval statue of St George and the Dragon while contemplating a novel by Selma Lagerlöf or a poem by Tomas Tranströmer, both of whom were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.’

Stockholm Archipelago
‘Jump on a boat from the quay just in front of Grand Hotel and spend a peaceful day on the water, travelling among hundreds of islands.’

Royal Library, Humlegården
‘Located just a few steps away from the noisy business district of Stureplan, this beautiful late-19th-century gem is a classic for reading and writing.’

Stockholm City Guide | Soho House

Sturebadet Spa

Best places to explore near Soho House Stockholm 

Antique stores
‘Modernity and Jackson Design – which are both on Sibyllegatan – offer high-end vintage design classics. For exclusive estate jewellery, head to Ribbhagen & Sörsand Antik on Nybrogatan. While for old tableware and pretty 19th-century stuff, it has to be A la carte Antik, on Riddargatan.‘ 

Market Hall, Östermalmstorg 
‘You’ll find fresh seafood, bread, meat, chocolate, cheese here – and some good cafés too.’

Sturebadet, Sturegatan 
‘The most beautiful old spa, with a gym and on-site café.’

Rönnells Antikvariat, Birger Jarlsgatan 
‘Probably the best – and definitely the most inviting – place to shop for antique books in Sweden.’