More bling for your buck at Stockholm’s premier palazzo

A resplendent 19th century palace with a distinctly Mediterranean feel, Hallwyl House in Stockholm is an architectural gem well worth adding to the tourist itinerary, writes James Savage.

To call the Hallwyl House (‘Hallwylska Palatset’) a late 19th century businessman’s house would be factually accurate, yet this description belies the sheer extravagance of this private palace in the heart of Stockholm.

While the Royal Palace might be bigger – and offer more opportunities for spotting Princess Madeleine – Hallwylska Palatset is a striking testament to the fact that in royalty has not always had a monopoly on bling in Stockholm.

The house was built in the 1890s by the Count Walther and Countess Wilhelmina von Hallwyl. He was a Swiss aristocrat and businessman, she was the daughter of a hugely wealthy Swedish timber merchant.

Architect Isak Gustaf Clason was not constrained by anything as vulgar as a budget, and designed an interpretation of an Italian palazzo on Stockholm’s waterfront.

The final bill came to 1.5 million kronor, a fortune by the standards of the day. It ranks as one of the most expensive houses ever built in Sweden.

The building is a sumptuous combination of Venetian Late Gothic and Early Spanish Renaissance styles.

But while the design of the house might have looked traditional, behind the scenes it was one of the most technologically advanced homes in Sweden, with bathrooms, central heating and electric lighting throughout.

The house was donated to the nation in 1920, along with the countess’s collections of old masters and silverware. The state was under instructions not to change anything about the house and its contents, and has been good to its word. What is left is a fascinating time capsule that should be on the schedule of every Stockholm tourist.


Is the world’s best museum restaurant in Stockholm?

A Stockholm photography museum has been nominated for a travel award thanks to its trendy and eco-friendly restaurant, known for boasting one of the best views of the Swedish capital.

Is the world's best museum restaurant in Stockholm?
Fotografiska's restaurant and bar. Photo: Johan Ståhlberg/Fotografiska

Fotografiska, Stockholm's largest space for contemporary photography, opened in 2010 but has already become one of the city's hottest attractions, riding high on Sweden's creative reputation.

It is now in the running to add another accolade to its belt, as one of three nominees in the 'museum restaurant of the year' category in the international 2016 Leading Culture Destination Awards.

Arguably one of the trendiest galleries in Stockholm, Fotografiska usually showcases four exclusive exhibitions, which are updated every few months. It is housed in a former industrial Art Nouveau style building dating back to 1906 on hipster island Södermalm, with stunning views over central Stockholm.

If you thought that Swedish museum restaurants largely focus on a culinary repertoire of dry cinnamon rolls and burned coffee, think again. At Fotografiska, visitors first choose a vegetable-based dish, then optional meat as a complement, prepared by Swedish celebrity chef Paul Svensson. 

“This nomination is an honour and proof of Fotografiska's ability to initiate as well as continue to operate at the highest quality, to the delight of our guests,” said the gallery's co-founder Jan Broman in a statement.

“We are very proud to have succeeded in fulfilling our mission to become a gathering point for many senses,” he added.

READ ALSO: Sweden's Vasa sails into top museums list

The view of Stockholm's Gamla Stan from Fotografiska. Photo: Ulf Berglund

Calling itself “The Oscars for Museums”, the LCD Awards aim to celebrate travel, lifestyle and cultural innovation by showcasing established and emerging museum destinations worldwide.

The other restaurants nominated in Fotografiska's category are Ammo Restaurant at The Hammer in Los Angeles and Loulou Restaurant at Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on September 30th.