If the city of Gothenburg were to be a hotel, it’ll be a gorgeous, designer, boutique property – beautifully put together, perfectly well formed and offering all that a larger city offers, but in its own creative way. I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in the city a few times and yet I never tire of it. I would go so far as to say that Gothenburg is somewhere that inspires me – a culmination of great design, fabulous food and a laid back vibe that allows and encourages you to create. It is also the gateway to the stunning, West Swedish Archipelago, which is an endless world of wide-open thinking space like you’ve never seen it.

There’s an energy in the city that I believe will inspire many other creative travellers from all backgrounds and having just returned from celebrating the closing of Europride 2018 there, I can confirm that it is one LGBT-friendly city; and this goes beyond the one weekend of the year that Pride is celebrated. Gothenburgers open-minded, free-thinking and youthful people, which possibly explains why there’s such an inherently creative spirit there.

Here are my five favourite Gothenburg moments from my recent visit.

Magasingatan

Magasinsgatan is the city’s hippest destination for shopping and coffee as well as eating out or grabbing a drink. Trendy, independent shops, restaurants and bars all offer something special and uniquely local. I love hanging around the interior design paradise Artilleriet, a store gorgeously curated to within an inch of its life. I love browsing (and admittedly spending a fortune) at the local apparel stores, from the Scandi-chic Grandpa to the fab vintage-designer store like Ragtime. The food trucks in the square outside Artilleriet are prime examples of Gothenburg innovation, taking traditional Swedish fayre and turning it into street-food, perfect if you want to graze like a local. But when I want to sit down and write, I head to Da Mateo an amazing, award-winning coffee shop (a number of years ago it was crowned ‘best in Sweden’) for a carb-fix cinnamon bun and delicious coffee.

The Clarion Post Hotel

Capturing the very essence of re-imagination, the Clarion Post hotel is set in the grand old post office building at Drottningtorget, right next to the central station. It offers everything you could want of a modern city hotel, including a fab restaurant called Norda, set in the original post hall; and a rooftop pool with amazing views over the city. But what’s so special about this property is just how the architects and interior designers have used the cavernous space, maintained the history and heritage of the old building and added contemporary, high-design touches throughout. The result is a wonderful place to stay, play or dine. Plus it’s an instagrammer’s dream come true.

Made in Sweden

It’s hard not to be inspired by Swedish design. From fashion to furniture Sweden is a country that comes up top on the design stakes. Whether you’re into sustainable furnishings, or vintage jewellery, or contemporary fashion, or art, or perhaps a bit of both fused together, Gothenburg gives you plenty to choose from and features all the best Swedish brands. I love to shop ‘local’, so I’m now a proud owner of a pair (ok, several pairs) of Gothenburg-designed Nudie Jeans.

Festivals, festivals, festivals

Gothenburg is a city of festivals. You name it, they have it. From the very best music extravaganzas like Way Out West, to Italo-Disco Beatboxing, to Chocolate, Liquorice and Delicacy making, to of course, West Pride – a heartwarming, annual community Pride festival. It usually happens at the end of May, but because it was Europride this year, it took over the city in August instead, sitting alongside the Kulturklasset, Scandinavia’s largest, free, culture festival. So you can see that there is really something for everyone in the city. Wondering why, I asked a local. His reply was brilliant – “We Gothenburgers just enjoy celebrating all the little corners of human culture.”

Food, glorious food

If like me, you’re inspired by food (i.e. you like to eat) and you enjoy creativity in cuisine, then Gothenburg is the city for you. Take it from me, I ate it all. From sustainable seafood, to food-truck frenzy, to vegan variety, there is food to suit all palates and all budgets. Foodie culture is rife at all levels in the city, the proof in the pudding being that Gothenburg holds the most Michelin-stars per capita than anywhere else in the world.

For more about Gothenburg, visit www.goteborg.com