I was chatting with a friend a couple of weeks ago and musing about places to go for a weekend. I had a play around with Google Maps, and cross referenced a few places I was interesting in going with availability on ExpertFlyer, in order to get the best deal.
Stockholm seemed to be the place to go. We ended up booking an 11.00 flight out on the Saturday morning and an 18.00 flight home the next day, which was operated by a British Airways 767-300. These are all due to be retired in the next few days, so thought it would be a nice farewell.
The First Wing at Heathrow Terminal 5 was as efficient and seamless as ever, and with a light breakfast inside us, found the gate, boarded and some two hours later landed at Arlanda.
I think Stockholm is the only major Scandinavian city that I hadn’t yet visited so was pretty excited. British Airways use terminal 2, which seemed quite compact. It was a very short walk out through customs before we found the escalators leading down to the Arlanda Express train to the city centre.
The train is expensive. However if you book online in advance, it’s a lot more reasonable. We had done so was the slightly less extortionate sum of £30 return, each which puts it roughly on a par with the Heathrow Express if you have a Railcard discount. It was only a short wait for the next service (they’re every fifteen minutes) and twenty minutes later arrived in the centre of town.
My friend had a load of Marriott points so he’d booked the Sheraton which was a seven or eight minutes walk from the station.
They had upgraded us to a Club room with a balcony and a great view of the city.
We started to explore and just wandered around.
After all that walking we were in need of serious liquid refreshment. On a hunch, we headed to the Nobis Hotel to see if we could hang out in their bar area. Well not only did we find a bar, but a fantastically chilled out lounge with great music to sip cocktails to.
Given we only had the one night, we wanted to do a decent dinner. We managed to get a 21.15 table at a place called Ekstedt. It has a Michelin star (which at the time we didn’t realise).
The decor was very relaxed, no stiff waiters or starched linens – just wooden table tops and super friendly staff. We both opted for the full six course menu with the wine pairings.
We got chatting with the sommelier and before we knew it, an extra course of a baked oyster just arrived. We chatted a bit more and we were invited to take a tour of the kitchen.
I’ve been lucky enough to eat at a number of one and two Michelin star restaurants, but this place was simply incredible. For me, it had the perfect mix of simply stunning food and truly relaxed and personable service. Unquestionably this was one of the best meals I’ve had. Ever. We wandered out of the restaurant at 00.30 and pretty much passed out.
Sunday came around with another truly gorgeous day – given this was mid-October the forecast was for 19C!
The only slight disappointment was the ABBA museum which I felt was over-priced and pretty crowded. I’d probably give it a miss.
Before long it was time to head back to the station and Arlanda. The train back was as efficient as the journey out, as was security. The lounge on the other hand was crowded and rubbish – I definitely don’t recommend spending any longer than necessary there.
Boarding was via door 2 and we arrived roughly twenty minutes late back into London Heathrow Terminal 5 (which is pretty much on time for Heathrow).
I had an unexpectedly brilliant time. I do like Scandinavia generally, coupled with being extremely lucky with the weather, but everything just seemed to come together. Great value last minute flights, the hotel on points, a beautiful city and one of the best meals I’ve had.
I’d have no qualms about flying there just for dinner; in fact, if you have a certain person you want to surprise for a special occasion, I couldn’t think of a more awesome thing to do.