Ditch your travel craving with this very Scandi-inspired guide to New York City

By Matilde Wergeland

Photo: Kris Tamburello

Get away from the cold and chill and satiate your wanderlust with a week away in the Big Apple, Scandi style

With SAS recently announcing their return to JFK (after a 30 year absence) and new direct flights starting in April between Newark International Airport and both Gothenburg and Aalborg, New York is now easier than ever to visit for Scandinavians. But swapping mountain tops for Manhattan skyscrapers and forest hikes for Fifth Avenue strolls doesn't mean you have to completely leave the Scandinavian aesthetics at home. The city is actually full of places that offer everything from ice baths and fresh Norwegian salmon, to Scandinavian designers and that classic close-to-nature feeling (really).


Here's our comprehensive guide to adding a little Nordic flavour to your NYC adventure.

Aman gives nature feels in the urban jungle. Photo: Aman.

Where to sleep and recharge

One of the newest members in the Aman family can now be found right by Fifth Avenue and Central Park. With stylish luxury stitched into every aspect, this sanctuary in the heart of the city offers everything from incredible restaurants and tranquil spa to majestic suites designed in Aman’s signature earthy tones. Wooden details, fir tree branches as decorations, and stunning hand-painted wallpaper with pine tree designs really create that Scandi close-to-nature feeling, despite Aman New York’s central and buzzy location.

Another hotel that managed to create a little oasis of calm in the heart of a city that never sleeps is 1 Hotels Central Park – just around the corner from the Aman (with another location by Brooklyn Bridge). Enter the lobby and green moss decorations, rustic wooden walls, and lush trees and leaves greet you as you walk in. These sustainable, luxe-retreats in the city are ideal if you're someone who needs a boost of greenery on the daily.

1 Hotels offers greenery in the heart of the city.

If it's our sauna culture that you end up missing while in New York, there are few better places to check in at than the amazing Equinox Hotels in the Hudson Yards district. With an outdoor pool and barrel saunas, as well as an outstanding spa with treatments such as cryo, Icoone, and luxurious Biologique Recherche facials, this is the best place in the city for a rejuvenating and recharging stay.

Alongside a well served gym, with personal training and group classes to experience, the hotel's stylish rooms are another highlight. The minimalistic and modern interiors are a win for design-lovers, but the rooms are not just about the looks – each space is also created for optimal sleep. The perfect place to catch up on some much needed rest.

Turn off, check in, and peace out at Equinox Hotels' stunning spa. Photo: Equinox Hotels.

Another design-led destination for Scandinavians is the sophisticated Edition Hotel by Madison Square Park. Their atmospheric lobby, which both feels like a relaxed living room and posh bar, is the perfect place for a drink or coffee, while their 271 unique quest rooms and suites feature oak floors, gorgeous beige sofas and beds, as well as jaw-dropping vistas over the city.

If you find yourself downtown, try Modernhaus SoHo and The Walker Tribeca, where you find charming and contemporary rooms in a natural colour palette – clean lines and curated details are the themes here. Explore SoHo’s stores after you have dropped your luggage, and don’t forget to fuel up afterwards at Mostrador – a new restaurant right by The Walker that offers delectable dishes (two favourites are the slow roasted beets and kale Caesar salad) amid picturesque interiors.

Where to eat

A Brooklyn gem not to miss is Aska – a two Michelin-starred Williamsburg restaurant run by Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius. Acclaimed as one of the best restaurants in the US, the first star was earned within just one year of opening and it is easy to understand why. The open kitchen serves only ten tables each night and the outstanding menu pays homage to Berselius’ Nordic roots with ingredients such as grilled tail of langoustine from Norway, white currant, kingfish from Denmark, horseradish oil, preserved berries, and sweet buns.

What also elevates the dishes here is the airy, all-black space (including the iconic Wishbone chairs from Carl Hansen & Søn), which really makes the vibrant presentations and colourful ingredients pop and create a feast for eyes as well as taste buds.

Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius delivers delectable dishes at Aska. Photo: Aska.

Photo: Aska.

A little further north, in Greenpoint, is the bar Tørst by Dane Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, a perfect spot if you’re looking for a relaxed after-dinner drink. The space's dark wooden walls and floors create an intimate feeling with the contrasting white ceiling and marble bar, but there is much more going on here than just a quaint interior. This drinking gem specialises in beers and features 21 taps and another 200 bottled brews. And if all that booze needs soaking up, you can also find delicious Danish-inspired dishes such as pølse and rye bread on the menu.

Not your average bar snack at Tørst. Photo: Tørst.

If Nordic-inspired baked goods are what you’re looking for, another Brooklyn pearl is Bakeri, a tiny, picturesque old-style bakery on Whyte Avenue. It serves up mis-matching china, delectable salads, tartines, pastries, and bread buns.

Smør, opened by two Danes named Sebastian who felt a need to bring a bit of Scandinavia to the city, is another bakery gem. The light and lovely cafe in East Village offers up freshly baked cardamom buns together with true Scandinavian delicacies, such as knäckebröd and O’Boy.

If you crave even more sweets on your visit, BonBon and Sockerbit are the places to get your sugar fix and stock up on Marabou, Dumle, and Ahlgrens Bilar.

Smør brings a taste of Scandinavia to the city.

Where to shop

Once your belly is fully satiated, it’s time to take your credit card for a little spree. Anine Bing’s Manhattan stores shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking for both interior inspiration and wardrobe classics, such as a pair of signature Charlie boots.

Another favourite Scandi brand and stunning store to check out is the new Totême New York flagship store in SoHo. The interior of the space on 49 Mercer Street is a fusion between modern Swedish design heritage (such as furniture from Svenskt Tenn and iconic fabrics by Josef Frank) and the signature architectural elements of the neighbourhood. Browse through their classic cashmere sweaters, wool coats, and silk sets that grace the hangers – admittedly, it's tough to leave empty-handed.

Your luggage just got a whole lot heavier thanks to Totême. Photo: Totême.

If souvenirs for your home are on your shopping list, a must-stop is Teak New York, a fabulous store in NoHo selling Scandinavian designs. Find Nordic designers and brands such as Kay Bojesen, &tradition, Design House Stockholm, as well as Saana ja Olli, and everything from furniture and lightning, to candles and cutting boards.

Where to work up a sweat

Even though us Scandinavians might not always want to admit it, we do love our personal space, which is why The Humming Puppy is the optimal option for your yoga practice. You book your own mat and assigned spot in the studio, which is dark and black where a humming sound is playing in order to help us calm down and focus.

Another great option for working up a sweat is The Class in Tribeca. The style of the studio and brand resonates with our Scandinavian preferences, and the actual workout will allow you to both amp up your energy and let any stuck emotions out as it includes everything from jumps and crunches to a bit of screaming and conscious breathing. This might be where you step out of your comfort zone and let that introvert Scandinavian side loosen up a little.

Remedy Place offers everything from acupuncture to infrared saunas. Photo: Matilde Wergeland.

To get those daily ice baths in, try Remedy Place a tranquil social wellness club where you get to experience everything from acupuncture and infrared saunas to breathwork and guided ice bath classes. The goal is to last for six minutes in the tub, which is more challenging than it sounds, but utterly invigorating afterwards.

Two other wellness havens (with minimalist Scandi-inspired interiors) are Sage + Sound and The Well, where you can find everything from creative classes and relaxing treatments to delicious bites.

The Well is a Scandi-inspired wellness haven. Photo: Kris Tamburello.

Book any of the Study classes, group conversation classes focused on different themes taught by experts, and the tea ceremony at Sage + Sound if you’re on the Upper East Side. Then, end the day with a nutritious meal, a reiki-yoga class, and the most relaxing and luxurious facial at The Well to treat both body and mind.