Stockholm’s Hidden Bars
Judi Lembke takes us behind four unique bars in Stockholm.
I’m not one to head for the flashiest or most popular bars in town when I’m in need of quenching my thirst. Instead, I prefer to seek out the bars that are tucked away, without any bells and whistles proclaiming how hip and fab they are. There’s something to be said about the low-key drinking establishment, the one where you feel like you’re slipping into an old well-loved shoe. The drinks are good, staff members feel like friends, and as you scan the crowd you could almost swear you see a familiar face. You are among your people.
One such place is the courtyard at Story Hotel on Riddargatan on Östermalm. It’s found up a small stone staircase to the left of the old iron-wrought elevator. While the main bar at Story is cozy and welcoming, the terrace is a hidden find with small tables and chairs scattered haphazardly across the stone floor and a small bar manned by an always friendly bartender.
While the sun doesn’t always find its way into this stone enclosure, the table umbrellas give a sense of privac, as if you’re in your own little cone of silence, your chats with your friends somehow kept private. It’s the kind of place where you settle in for the long haul, because while there are never so many people that you’ll feel jostled, there are enough to create that low hubbub of conversation that makes a night out for drinks warm the soul.
Just a few steps away from Story is Sturehof, which may be a star on Stockholm’s hip and trendy restaurant and bar scene, but also has its own hidden corners. Bypassing the outdoor area where everyone is keen to see and be seen, you’ll find your way to the main bar and then the restaurant.
Keep going back – you’ll eventually find a couple of small intimate spaces where people are more interested in each other than the other patrons.
When I want throwback Swedish style, I head over to Tennstopet which is probably my favourite bar in the city. Situated across from Vasaparken in the heart of Vasastan, Tennstopet is a true Stockholm institution staffed by old school servers in white coats and with, shall we say, very interesting personalities – which are matched only by the colourful patrons who run from the very heart of the Swedish establishment to locals who have made this their second home.
Tennstopet’s outdoor seating is an invitation to people-watch but when you get inside, the bar to the right is buzzing with activity. Move further along and you’ll find a cubbyhole with just two tables, perfect for an intimate chat.
Keep going and there’s another bar, complete with a darts setup and even further in is yet another space,where you can delve deep into your chat and your drink. Top secret here is that there is a little-known toilet just past the darts room – it may not seem like much but it does some in handy.
“The Bar With No Name”
And then there is the bar with no name, no sign, no indication that it even exists. It’s in an office building in an office kind of area and even if you can find the restaurant Oxen which exists in the same building you still may not find this little gem of a bar.
Here’s the best information we can give to help you make your way and come away with some serious bragging rights:
- Find Citykonferensen Ingenjörshuset on Malmskillnadsgatan.
- Step through the glass doors at the entrance.
- Wait for what looks like just another office door to open and the sounds of a proper English pub come pouring out.
- Then you’ll know you’re in the right place.
Walk in, grab a whiskey (they’ve got the best selection in town), pull up a seat and then revel in the atmosphere.