A Designer Shares His Favorite Spots in Vasastan, 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.

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

Bastin spent four months renovating his Vasastan apartment, including this kitchen.

Photo by Simon Bajada

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.

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: Why Winging It Behind the Wheel Is the Best Way to See Sweden

Stephen Whitlock is a Yorkshireman who moved to New York and then, a decade later, relocated to Stockholm, Sweden.
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