Stockholm’s a very cool city, and Story Hotel Riddargatan is one of its hottest spots. With Macs in the lobby so you can check yourself in, a courtyard hangout space accented with specially commissioned graffiti and a host of effortlessly elegant locals in the bar, Story offers unadulterated urban chic, Swedish style.
Two freshly pressed juices, a bag each of apple and kale crisps; SilverSmiths get an extra raw-food brownie each, and GoldSmiths get a half-bottle of champagne and a room upgrade (subject to availability)
In the know
Also need to know:
All public areas except the backyard are wheelchair accessible. If you’re not in the mood to party, avoid the lower floor rooms near the courtyard.
Bring your coolest pair of trainers; you’ll fit in with the locals in the bar.
Pick up some new unisex jeans from super Scandi style hub Acne round the corner, then do your best to emulate the effortless cool of your fellow diners at the next table.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
When Story Hotel Riddargatan opened in Stockholm in 2011, the city’s trend-sensitive hipsters were excited. They had a new hangout worthy of their presence. After years of yearning, Stockholm had a properly contemporary boutique hotel and words like ‘bohemian chic’ and ‘urban industrial’ were effortlessly worked into the vocabulary. Set on Riddargatan among turn-of-the-century houses, just around the corner from Stureplan, this is where the magic happens. Or at least this is where the cool people go to party…
A born and bred Stockholmer (more recently distracted by love and life in London and Hong Kong), I was curious about unravelling the hype around Story. When Mr Smith and I were invited for a wedding weekend, it was a done deal – we were off to hang with the hipsters. We arrived late Friday afternoon, just as the after-work crowd starts drifting in. Instead of a formal reception area, two large Apple screens greet you, inviting you to check yourselves in using your booking code. The idea is to save money to help keep room rates low. With two staff members roaming the entrance, you kind of wish that they did have a desk to hide behind – especially since one was pregnant. But the DIY check-in approach totally works, and before long we’d punched in the same five-digit code to get into our fifth-floor room. The locks are a clever way of sidestepping key cards, although partied-out guests forgetting their digits must be a staple.
The proximity to Stureplan makes Bar a popular place for pre-clubbing drinks or a liquid dinner with friends. By eight in the evening this concrete-pillared, pink-lamp-shaded rendezvous was jam-packed, and a DJ was laying down the likes of Swedish House Mafia. Mr Smith and I flopped at a table in the bar and opted for a bar-snacky dinner (cold cuts, salad), which went nicely with our steady flow of cocktails. Orange-lemon-gin Storypolitan, a few flamboyant mescal-enhanced numbers and a sherry-rum-vanilla-wheat-beer Pan American Monk showed us why this place is making so much noise on the world-class cocktail circuit. And the great news is that in the unlikely event you’d want to give Stureplan’s gregarious crowd a miss, none of the noise translates to the rooms upstairs.
Cosy, clean and homey without feeling stuffy, our bedroom was as we’d hoped from this self-proclaimed Urban Chic hub. Story’s creative personality extends to a series of prints on the bedroom walls (all available to buy below) care of Wonderwall – purveyors of affordable art. The bathrooms have an industrial thing going on, with bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling and a glass wall into the main room – lucky Mr Smith getting to enjoy his favourite view (Mrs Smith). Toiletries from Swedish cosmetics brand Face were a nice surprise.
The most compact of the room categories is called ‘Small’ – my favourite room-type name being the ‘Super Squeeze’. We were in one of the larger rooms – although it could seem snug to a space-spoiled American, though not a New Yorker. Spilling out onto a lovely balcony with flowerpots and white wooden benches, we overlooked a charming Stockholm courtyard and rooftops with the typical attic windows popping out the top. The view takes you back to a time when Story Hotel Riddargatan was still an apartment building. Who lived here? What were they like? we wondered. Another reminder of Story’s past is the original resident’s lift.
Having left our baby behind to enjoy a party weekend, we in turn got to sleep like one all night. When Mr Smith woke up, what was the first thing on his mind? Telling me he couldn’t have been more excited about how comfortable the pillows are at Story. Still, he is a frequent traveller, so I took the endorsement seriously.
Breakfast is my favourite part of staying at a hotel. No matter how many eggs you poach in your own newly renovated kitchen, some things aren’t the same. With its softly dimmed lights and people moving about, coffee cups in hand, there was a relaxed uplifting vibe in the restaurant. We scanned the buffet and were determined to eat ourselves awake. Crispbread with aged local cheese, newly baked Swedish cinnabuns, nut-packed breads and delicious Scandinavian soured milk to be enjoyed with the house granola all ensured the hotel got this breakfast connoisseur’s stamp of approval. We hope to try Kitchen at night too one day for local classics such as Norröna herring with egg, red onion, sour cream and buttered bread.
Östermalm is rather posh and one of Stockholm’s oldest residential neighborhoods. The houses are beautifully preserved, the streets are broad and airy and the people are good looking. After a morning of gazing through the windows of its high-end boutiques, we finished with lunch at Stockholm’s famous Lisa Elmkvist fish restaurant, where there are four types of salmon alone. Perched at one of the blue-checked tablecloths in the historical market place Östermalmshallen, only two blocks from Story, we savoured world-class seafood dishes.
Time to get wedding-snazzy, we made our way back to the hotel. Our room’s fully fitted carpet and clothes rack instead of a wardrobe, made us feel as though we were in a luxurious dressing room, which helped get the party mood going. We opened our balcony doors to hear the distant chatter from the courtyard downstairs and it all felt very civilised.
Before leaving, we thought we should toast this hip hangout. Even though the bar wasn’t open at 3pm, getting a glass of chilled champagne was no problem. Off we went after our fizz, had a blast and came back just in time to enjoy the morning sun from our room’s generous balcony, contemplating why we ever left the Sweden’s capital in the first place.
Riddargatan 6, Stockholm, 114 35
0.4 mi / 0.6 km from city centre
- Internet services
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
Ling Long restaurant (named after a 1930s Chinese lifestyle magazine) serves stylish Asian fare made from high-end Nordic ingredients, for lunch and dinner. Korean bibimap (rice with meat and vegetables), pot stickers and bang bang chicken are some favourites that have been elegantly interpreted under the guidance of restaurateur Umur Telman (the brains behind popular Stockholm spots Grek Plus Turk and Café Bagdad).
Tables at the back of the restaurant give you more elbow room, if you don’t want to get too cosy with your neighbours.
Breakfast is served 6.30am–10.30am weekdays and 8am–12pm weekends; lunch is served 11am–2pm (except Sundays), and dinner 6pm–11pm (except Sundays). The bar opens at 4pm, and the last drink is poured at 11pm (1am Tuesday–Thursday, 2am Friday–Saturday)..
Order snacks, meals or drinks any time you like, round the clock.
Story’s bar, like its restaurant, is a destination in itself (both have their own discreetly signposted entrances from the street). During the day, it’s a laid-back place to read the paper; by night, every cocktail ingredient you’ve ever heard of (and quite a lot you haven’t) is put to use by good-looking bartenders serving a beautifully coiffed crowd of locals. Resident DJ Linda Romanazzi lines up house tunes on Friday and Saturday nights. The barmen shake up a mean cocktail, and Asian ingredients breath new life into classics; the Tyred of Tinis with Elyx vodka and nine-year-aged yuzu-infused vermouth is dangerously drinkable. Light dim sum complement the drinks, such as shu mai dumplings with brisket, and scallops with algae and grapefruit.