I recently took a solo trip to Stockholm. Landing two days after a fierce, and apparently a-typically heavy snowstorm for mid-November, the pretty city was blanketed in thick drifts of snow. Unlike the UK, where life becomes a slippery nonsense as trains stop, pavements ice over and roads grind to a halt, Stockholm in the snow was easy to navigate, and all the more beautiful for its fresh winter coat of the soft stuff.
Most of my trip was spent drifting round galleries, nosing round vintage shops and book stores, and eyeing up the gorgeous succulents, alpines and purple cabbages that decorated the front of Stockholm’s many florists, displays spilling out onto pavements. I took peaceful trips by boat between the islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago, to wander round the famous Djurgården – which felt as if I’d wandered through the back of the wardrobe and into Narnia in all the magical snow – and visit the Museum of Modern Art on the next island along. I took a yin yoga class at YogaYama – a wonderful yoga studio with beautiful sauna, steam room, shop and café, not to mention incredibly helpful and friendly staff. And I discovered the Swedish love for buffet food, where you pay for your plate, and help yourself to as much as you’d like. It was generally wonderful.
Being a freelancer, I don’t find it easy to escape regular deadlines, and for a couple of hours each day, I packed up my laptop, and ventured forth to find myself a cosy corner to work in.
It’s unsurprising really, as Stockholm is such a tech hub, but it has an amazing culture of coffee shops that welcomingly double as office space. Particularly in trendy Södermalm (or SoFo) where I was staying, where it’s not hard to stumble upon creative, retro-vibed coffee shops, replete with plenty of plug sockets, bar space, and small tables for one or two, a gentle buzz of focus, and pockets of designers, writers, and various tech industry freelancers tapping away, Skyping or meeting. Sometimes in the UK you can feel a little guilty for taking up table space with your laptop, but in Stockholm, coffee shop/offices seem to be simply part of the culture.
As a freelance writer and editor, it was a godsend, and I found myself super productive as I sipped delicious coffee, nibbled more than one cardamom roll, and drew on the creative, busy atmosphere.
Here are some of my favourite finds:
Coffice, Tjärhovsgatan 5
Literally, as the name suggests, part coffee shop, part office. Set up by a group of architects, there are meeting rooms you can book, and a membership scheme that gets you easier access to their facilities. But you can also just drop in, grab an excellent coffee (or two), and plug in for as long as you like. With an eclectic, spacious, industrial feel – white tiles, exposed lighting cables and low tanks of plants – it’s buzzy but focused. It’s definitely somewhere people come to work, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by trendy looking, efficient tech-types grabbing some meeting time or just a quiet corner to get some work done.
Il Caffe, Södermannagatan 23
There are actually three branches of this coffee shop, but I only visited the SoFo branch. But I liked it so much I picked it as my office twice! A little less office-y than Coffice, Il Caffe is cleverly divided into sections, so that if you’re there for a coffee and a catch up with a friend, you can sit in their welcoming bar area and be tempted by their tasty looking food (I can personally vouch for the awesomeness of their cardamom buns). But if you’re working, there are two other quieter spaces, with small tables and long bars. There’s a very cool, relaxed vibe that teams muted pops of colour, like their a retro diner-style orange bar and cream and orange floor tiles, with pale walls, low hanging, exposed lighting and modern prints on the wall. It also joins onto the florist next door, so you can gaze at the lovely plants and flowers – and in my case, handily pick up a pretty gift for your Airbnb host.
Kaffe, Sankt Paulsgatan 17
While the coffee competition in Stockholm is high, at Kaffe, it really is stand-out excellent. So if it’s the coffee you’ve come for, this is a great choice. Clean and cool, with large windows looking out onto the street, white walls and high stools clustered up against bar space, it’s a fuss-free, simple place to get an excellent coffee, and enjoy a quiet space to work. It doesn’t have the buzz of Coffice or the gentle hum of industry of Il Caffe, but it does have the coffee, and a quieter feel for those who prefer fewer distractions while they work.
Fikabaren, Södermanagatan 10
OK, it’s not really a place to work in the same way as the others, it’s much more of a social meetup place in the traditional coffee shop fashion. But I did curl up in this super-hip, cosy little coffee shop with a wonderful book, which I’d bought from the lovely little English Bookshop just round the corner, and if I had some papers to read or background research to do, I’d certainly pick this place. There were a few people plugged in and tapping away, but more visitors were enjoying what the name suggests its best for – fika. I think everywhere should have fika – which basically seems to translate (apologies to any Swedes if I’ve misunderstood!) as a break for coffee, usually accompanied by a sweet snack, and a chance to slow down, take a moment, and preferably enjoy some good company. The décor is everything a Stockholm newbie might hope for in terms of Scandi-style minimalism. Pale grey, rough plaster walls, smooth wooden benches, some with a sheepskin rug casually thrown over for extra comfort, instagrammable marble tables tops with little succulents in cute pots, trendy black metal chairs and industrial-style lighting. If you’re not a fan of the hipster den, you may find it a bit much, but if you can stomach it, it’s a treat.
So there we have it. Do you have any favourite places to work in your city? Why is it so much more fun to work in a coffee shop than at home?