Original 53c77332d9ccba0d9e0b0bda260ebefa.jpg?1475084117?ixlib=rails 0.3

A Designer Shares His Favorite Spots in Stockholm's Most Underrated Neighborhood

For menswear designer—and former Gant creative director—Christopher Bastin, life slows down in the city’s liveliest neighborhood.  As told to Stephen Whitlock.

I was born and raised in Stockholm and spent much of my life in the Östermalm district, the poshest part of town. But I felt that nothing there ever changed, and I wanted to live somewhere that felt alive even after the shops close. One day four years ago, I was randomly walking around and found my dream home in Vasastan. I bought it one week later.

Vasastan is just a 10-minute bike ride from the city center, but the neighborhood feels like a totally different world. It has its own vibe: It’s a lot less stiff-upper-lip than Östermalm, but it’s not pretentious and artsy like Södermalm. There’s a slower pace of life here. It doesn’t feel like everyone is in a hurry.

Most of the architecture dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with wonderful examples of jugendstil (art nouveau) buildings—imagine curling ironwork over doors and windows. The neighborhood is very elegant, with lots of trees and a sprawling park, Vasaparken, that has a big play area as well as a soccer pitch and boules courts. It almost feels like a corner of Paris.

My home is a large, spacious apartment inside a 1930s building. I share it with my girlfriend and two daughters. Since we’ve moved in, I’ve renovated it entirely, adding an industrial-standard kitchen where I love to cook for friends. We also have a 430-squarefoot rooftop terrace.

Click through the slideshow below and save Bastin's favorites to your trip plan:

  • Original hires yuc.jpg?1475082690?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Yuc! Taqueria
    This mellow, playful taquería has a great vibe, cool art, and attracts a fun-loving crowd. Rather than sit in the dining area, I like to head for the bar, where it’s a bit livelier....
  • Original hires sven museum.jpg?1475082997?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum
    Located in Vasaparken, Sven-Harrys rolls out new exhibitions every few months. The building is striking and modern, but the top floor is a throwback: a replica of the museum founder’s...
  • Original erlands.jpg?1475083079?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Erlands Cafe
    Gustaf Forsberg, who owns Erlands—Stockholm’s smallest, coolest cocktail bar—is a supernerd when it comes to spirits and will only work with top ingredients. The Erlands...
  • Original hires trannan.jpg?1475083127?ixlib=rails 0.3
    A hip crowd hangs out at this classic spot. Try the Toast Pelle Janzon, a huge piece of toast blanketed with beef carpaccio dressed with roe, crème fraîche, chopped onion, an egg yolk,...
  • Original hires tennstoppet.jpg?1475083209?ixlib=rails 0.3
    When I don’t have the time to cook, I go to Tennstopet. It’s across the street from where I live and serves hearty traditional food such as stekt fläsk med...
  • Original hires lilla ego.jpg?1475083263?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Lilla Ego
    The sparse interior, with its furniture that looks like it’s from IKEA, helps to emphasize the New Nordic food and the exciting wine list. The menu changes depending on whatever local...
  • Original real upplandsgatan hires.jpg?1475083363?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Zak Secondhand
    Along this vintage-lover’s dream street, many stores sell antiques. You can find anything from French rococo paintings and Swedish folk art to midcentury Scandinavian furniture and pottery....
  • Original hires itamae sushi.jpg?1475083439?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Itame Izakaya
    It’s tiny, but the restaurant makes the best sushi in Vasastan. (Just don’t come with a group.) Expect hip-hop on the stereo and outstanding food on the plates. I like the makimono...
  • Original hires haberdash.jpg?1475083486?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Opened in 2012, Haberdash is now one of the best menswear stores in the country. I go for the great mix of Americana and Italian sprezzatura (nonchalant) styles of clothing and for Scandinavian...

When I’m not at home, I spend far too much of my time at Tennstopet, a traditional Swedish restaurant and bar that’s been going strong since 1867. (It moved to its current location in Vasastan in 1965.) Recently, several pioneering New Nordic restaurants have opened in the neighborhood, including Lilla Ego, which is now one of the most popular places in the city.

In the time I’ve been living here, the area has really improved. Real estate prices have exploded, but at the same time, lots of great new cafés and stores have opened. The shopping scene is a mix of old places that have been here forever, selling antiques and bric-a-brac, and newer, more fashionable stores such as Haberdash, where I buy Scandinavian-made shirts. More recently, a few gourmet grocery stores have opened, so I never really feel I have to leave Vasastan.

Too many visitors come to Stockholm and never venture beyond the cobbled streets of Old Town and the city center. As a result, Vasastan is largely empty of tourists. I think this is what sets this neighborhood apart—it manages to be both cozy and a vibrant part of the city. It’s a true slice of Stockholm.

>>>Next: 11 Reasons to Book a Trip to Stockholm Yesterday