Like the people, the modernism is better looking in Stockholm, Sweden’s utterly civilised capital.
First to Gunnar Asplund’s at once majestic and surprisingly human-scaled Public Library (1928) – an exquisitely-detailed repository of knowledge.
And on to the graceful landscape of Sigurd Lewerentz and Asplund’s Woodland Cemetery (1917-1940). It is an extraordinarily complete and subtle landscape experience, from pleached lime trees following the street from the station, through the stone-faced amphitheatre of the entrance, to the majestic sweep of Lewerentz’s hillscape framing Asplund’s Crematorium within (which after the touching detail of the Library, was a building that unexpectedly worsened on approach rather than improved – it was Lewerentz’s masterly setting that captivated).
The foliage of the trees lining the path to Lewerentz’s exquisite (and exquisitely maintained) Resurrection Chapel (1925) darkens on approach, to envelope the funeral party in protective darkness, and conversely lightens on leaving. A private tour led by the only unfriendly person in Stockholm meant we could only see the interior – with its tantalisingly beautiful chairs, lights and stone altar – through the keyhole.
And back to Ett Hem, possibly the nicest hotel there is, beautifully curated by Ilse Crawford, and staffed by (of course) good looking young Swedes. A place where you actually can just help yourself to a drink and have whatever you feel like for dinner – a rather more comfortable and better-staffed version of home.