The Haymarket: Stockholm’s Instant Classic

The Haymarket's lobby bar resurrects the Roaring Twenties with a dose of “Penicillin”

The Haymarket’s lobby bar resurrects the Roaring Twenties with a dose of “Penicillin”

Sweden’s new Haymarket hotel is a multi-faceted destination in itself.

I’ve flown across the Atlantic Ocean into the heart of Scandinavia—where I’m transported into America’s Golden Age? The Haymarket hotel’s ground-floor lobby bar, Americain, has 20/20 vision, as it blends the Roaring Twenties with 2020 modernity. Working under a ceiling of hanging, sparkling glassware, the jacket-and-tie and stylishly suspendered bartenders were all handpicked from other renowned establishments. The mixology team blends 1920s classics as well as prohibition-era Caribbean favs.

Prohibition forced hordes of career American bartenders to relocate, with the Caribbean being a popular choice. When prohibition ended, that bartender diaspora imported many exotic, fruity-drink recipes. The encyclopedic drink menu at Americain ranges from stiff to sours & fizzes to the world beyond. As an example, “The Penicillin”: Creator Sam Ross, NY; Naked Grouse whiskey, lemon, honey, ginger, Lagavulin (single-malt) mist. The impressive beer list includes limited-edition rotating batches from Sweden’s Brutal Brewery; the Mandarin Lager is a hit. The lounge area has live music on weekends that gives way to a mellow jazz DJ. The bar area’s huge windows—and every window on the first two floors—intimately showcase the outdoor life in Stockholm’s Haymarket Square, while the awesome in-ceiling sound system further helps elevate the mood. Resurrection successful.

Gretas

Gretas

Greta Garbo worked here? An instant Stockholm hotspot, the other side of the lobby sports a clean, well-lit gathering place called Gretas, an “extended” café named in honor of Greta Garbo, who was discovered there in the 1920s while modeling hats when it was a department store.

PS: Her mom worked in a jam factory and dad was a street cleaner. Never give up.

Although this place is as long as a bowling alley, by “extended” they mean the menu blazes past typical Euro café offerings. It also serves breakfast, salads (e.g. smoked mackerel, new potatoes, horseradish, smoked emulsion of salmon, Granny Smith), bottled micro-brews (a glorious Padanas IPA), draft beer, and wine. The evening menu includes a glazed lobster omelet (fennel, parmesan). The concept here is sharing delectable non-animal proteins. Classic American big band and swing jazz also set the mood, while the gorgeous locals—who let their hair reign au natural—chat in soft, musical tones. Things really picked up when a bluesy band began playing across the lobby in Americain.

Haymarket overlooks a daily flower market

Haymarket overlooks a daily flower market

Originally built as a department store, the current Haymarket hotel is a merging of five different construction incarnations beginning in 1882. Hence, there are dozens of room personalities, including junior and grand suites, sleepers (super quiet rooms with premium beds guaranteeing deep sleep), and an event suite with a sauna and private terrace. Most of the bathroom fixtures are rose gold, and the soap, shampoo, candles, and lotion have signature scents: velvety vanilla, powdery ambergris, and smoky sandalwood united with tones of bergamot, citrus and a hint of pepper. Got that?

As this gem is centrally located, you can choose urban views of the square, a main street or pedestrian plazas. You really can’t be more central in Stockholm, among “the” concert hall, movie theaters and food courts on public Hotorget (Haymarket) Square, which also becomes a daily flower and fruit market.

This 405-room and 16-suite hotel, Stockholm’s largest, is as far from a chain hotel as it gets. The Garbo-meets-Gaga designers avoided building a 16,500 square-meter antique show by fusing art deco with modern Swedish design (yup, more rose gold). One step inside the grand entrance and you’re beckoned into an era symbolized by sublime elegance. It’s timeless but contemporary; you’re surrounded by 360 degrees of visual bliss. Scandic’s first signature hotel gives you the opportunity to enjoy an in-room bartender; an entertaining option, as one of their sharp-dressed men arrive with a bar cart and the mixology magic—hand-shaved ice and all—happens. My pal and I opted for a spicy “Ginger Hay” and a buzz-enhancing ‘Dia de la Raza.”

Haymarket’s in-room bartender

Haymarket’s in-room bartender

Paul’s, an alluring American-meets-Euro restaurant above the Haymarket hotel lobby, is named in honor of the man who broke ground here to build a department store in 1916. Who knew that the spacious breakfast buffet area transforms into a busy wine station? The handsome one-page foldout wine list is a hallucinatory flash of global greatest hits. White-jacketed waiters zigzag across the crisp grand-parlor setting while the big band and swing jazz forges on. When the seared scallop appetizer (buttered corn, sherry & chorizo vinaigrette) arrived, I doubt hardworking founder Paul could have imagined my oyster-fueled Bloody Mary. I’m betting he never tried roasted arctic char (white asparagus, cucumber, lobster sabayonne), either. Uh-oh: Here comes the cheese trolley.

The gorgeous and immense breakfast buffet at The Haymarket includes vegan and gluten and dairy-free options. The enormous event space includes a 25-person luxury-chair cinema. Your Lifestyle Concierge can make the impossible happen with club reservations, hot-ticketed events, limited edition sunglasses, you name it. Expect random, local art-inspired pop-up shops and exhibitions, and enjoy the no-tension magic carpet ride within Sweden’s new golden oldie.

Sweden’s "new" golden oldie (Credit: Scandic)

Sweden’s “new” golden oldie (Credit: Scandic)

For your stay:
The Stockholm Pass provides sightseeing access to the whole city with one card, granting visitors free entry to over 60 top attractions, including museums, walking tours, hop on/off buses, and ferry rides. SAS (seamless air service) flies direct from New York to Stockholm whenever you’re ready.


For more on this grand hotel, visit it online. All photos by Bruce Northam except final entrance photo by Scandic.

Bruce Northam

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About the Author

Bruce Northam

Bruce Northam is the author of THE DIRECTIONS TO HAPPINESS, a 135-country quest for life lessons, and a Chicken Soup for the traveler—but with balls. Check out his alternative keynote on AmericanDetour.com and follow him on Facebook.

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