Your Key To The Bohemian Södermalm District of Stockholm

The Södermalm District of Stockholm, Sweden. Stockholm is made up of 14 islands (as well as the mainland) and each of these islands and districts has its own special feel and ambiance.  The stately Östermalm, up-and-coming Kungsholmen, leafy Djurgården and the commercial district of Norrmalm are some examples.  Then there is Södermalm, or just “Söder” (south in Swedish), which is the largest of the islands.  The feel here is laid-back, funky and bohemian.  Celebrated as the home of the city’s hipsters and having a large LGBT population, Södermalm has often been called Stockholm’s version of Brooklyn or Shoreditch.  I think many major cities in the world these days would have a district that they refer to as their “Brooklyn”.

Stockholm was founded on the island of Gamla Stan – today’s historic centre of the city.  Södermalm was one of the first islands to be populated when Stockholm expanded beyond Gamla Stan.  At first, much of the island remained rural, but during the Industrial Age the population grew significantly and this area became home to mainly the working class.  The gentrification of Södermalm started in the early 1900’s and soon the island became a popular settlement for Stockholm’s artists and new middle class.  In the 1990’s, the area’s hip factor rose exponentially to the point that in 2014 Vogue Magazine named Södermalm as one of the 15 coolest neighborhoods in the world and the Financial Times named it as one the top destinations of the year.  Södermalm also featured prominently in the Stockholm edition of Travels by Adam’s popular Hipster Guide series.

So what is all the fuss about?  Besides being the location of Hotel Rival, Södermalm does ooze a certain sense of effortlessness and nonchalance.  The district has retained its historic working class feel and boasts some beautiful 18th and 19th century architecture.  Södermalm also has a lot of green spaces, such as the parks at Skinnarviksberget (with great views of the city) or Vita bergen (popular with picnickers).  The forested island of Långholmen, just adjacent to Södermalm, has some great beaches and places to rent kayaks in the summer.  Feel like taking a jog? You can walk/jog/bike along the water for almost the entire coast of the island.  The path is well marked and is 11 kilometers long should you choose to run the entire length.

Culture is also well exemplified in this area with attractions such as the Swedish museum of photography Fotografiska and theatres like Södra teatern and Folkoperan.  I would venture to say that one of the main reasons for Södermalm’s popularity in recent years is through literature.  Stieg Larsson’s world famous Millennium series, “the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, take place mostly on the streets of Södermalm.  Since Larsson used real places in the settings of his books, Millennium fans can actually visit Mikael Blomkvist’s apartment on Bellmansgatan (around the corner from the Hotel Rival) or Lisbeth Salander’s favorite bar Kvarnen.  There are even Millennium walking tours available during the summer months.

Probably the biggest reason for Södermalm’s popularity these days is the multiple pursuit of shopping, food and drink.  Södermalm is the go-to destination in Stockholm to shop for funkier fashion and stylish interior goods with great stores like Grandpa, Papercut, Blås & Knåda, Efva Attling, Coctail Deluxe, Beyond Retro, Acne, Nitty Gritty and Cheap Monday.  Most of the shops are located in the Mariatorget and SoFo (“south of Folkungagatan”) neighbourhoods of Södermalm.  Here you can also discover a plethora of restaurants, bars and cafés.  In certain areas, you will find a café on every corner, all catering to a favorite Swedish pastime: fika.  The Telegraph recently named Johan & Nyström one of the world’s best coffee shops.  Coincidentally, this café is just around the corner from the Hotel Rival.  There are countless restaurants in Sodermalm representing all budgets and cuisines and some of my personal favourite are Nook, WoodStockholm, Punk Royale, Lineage 10, Paradiso, Urban Deli and Nytorget 6 just to name a few.  For a culinary adventure, why not visit the weekend flea market at Horntulls strand and check out their popular food trucks? Or perhaps take a walking food tour to experience the local flavours of Södermalm? 

On your next trip to Stockholm, be sure to visit Södermalm and take time to enjoy the shops, restaurants, museums, or simply just stroll the streets and soak up the atmosphere of this fascinating neighbourhood. 

Meet the Author
Sean Naughton, Concierge Hotel Rival & President Les Clefs d'Or Sweden

I was born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii. With a Swedish mother and American father, I grew up bilingual and bi-cultural. After studying International Relations at the University of Oregon, I moved to Stockholm for what I thought would be a year abroad. However, 26 years later, I am still in Stockholm... a city that I fell in love with. I started my career here in Sweden initially in the food and beverage industry where I managed both bars and restaurants (even a couple of nightclubs) through most of the 1990’s. In 2003 I made the transition to the hotel industry, joining the team at Hotel Rival when they first opened their doors. After a couple of years in the Reception, I took the initiative and started the hotel’s Concierge service, building it up from scratch. In 2013 I joined Svenska Hotell Portier Föreningen (SHPF), Sweden’s union for Concierge, and shortly thereafter, I was accepted into the membership of Les Clefs d’Or, receiving my golden keys. As a result of much hard work, Sweden happily rejoined Les Clefs d’Or at the UICH International Congress in Berlin in 2017 as a full-fledged national section: Les Clefs d’Or Sweden. Today I serve on the board of SHPF and I am the Vice President of Les Clefs d’Or Sweden. As well, I am honoured to be a part of UICH’s newly established Brand and Communications Team.

Hotel Rival Stockholm

The Rival Hotel opened its doors in 2003 as Stockholm’s first boutique hotel. With 99 rooms, the hotel is a perfect mix of comfort and modern convenience. Besides the hotel itself, the Rival also houses a popular Café, Bistro, several bars, meeting and event facilities as well as a 700 seat theatre. The theatre was once a cinema (from 1937) called Rival, hence the name of the hotel. This cinematic theme is reflected in the interior design details of the Rival. The Rival Hotel is located on the beautiful Mariatorget square in the trendy Södermalm district, just a 10 minute walk from the historical Gamla Stan. It is also conveniently close to subways, trains, ferries and buses that can transport you through the greater Stockholm area. Rival Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore both the main tourist attractions as well as interesting local sites in Södermalm. Our Concierge Sean Naughton is a Les Clefs d’Or member and keen to help you make the most out of your next visit to Stockholm. For availability and rates, please visit our website at: Hotel Rival Mariatorget 3 118 91 Stockholm Sweden +46 (0)8 545 789 00

+46 (0)8 545 789 00

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