This past June, my family and I traveled down to Älmhult, Sweden to visit the home of IKEA. The trip was centered on a visit to the IKEA Museum which is housed in what was the first IKEA store. I am a self professed IKEA lover. Back home in the States I can remember visiting the big blue and yellow warehouse store in Seattle, Washington, when my then home state of Oregon didn’t have an IKEA of their own. GASP (don’t worry, they do now). I was a teenager and it was full of color, and ideas and giant stuffed animals and a yummy meal right in the middle of the shopping area, like, whhhhaaaat!? I truly think that first visit piqued my interest in decor and design. I know for certain it triggered my intrigue into Scandinavian culture which lead us to living in Sweden all these years later. Now that we were here and my mother-in-law was visiting us, the IKEA museum seemed like the perfect fit for a short summer holiday outside of the city.
We chose to ride the SJ fast train down to Älmhult and it was an easy 3ish hour ride for the kids and us adults.
The train station in Älmhult is situated right behind the IKEA Museum building and easy access to various IKEA business buildings and the IKEA Hotel, which is where we stayed for several nights.
IKEA Hotel, as you can imagine, is full of IKEA furniture and was both business and family traveler friendly. There were “living rooms” with kitchen areas, shared fridges, coffee etc. As well as sofas, tables and kids toys. We had fun starting a puzzle and enjoying some of the toys during down time. I will say I still missed the pool in all hotels feature I’m so used to from the States. However, the living room areas provided a bit of entertainment and room decor/organization inspiration.
As well as the indoor living rooms, there was a central courtyard with tables, hammocks (though they were quite narrow) and room to run which the kids liked.
We opted for a family room which joined with a neighboring double bed room to create a full suite. This made for a comfortable and easy stay as the kids were in beds of their own and shared a room with Grandma, while we parents had our own space. Plus, two bathrooms.
Disclaimer: The kids share a bunk bed at home so we felt our eldest, Felicity, was more than capable of safely going up and down the ladder herself. For our toddler, Charlie, we took an extra comforter, rolled it up and stuck it under the sheet to prevent him from rolling off the lower bunk onto the floor. Worked like a charm.
The hotel restaurant served the traditional Swedish breakfast with plenty of options for all. The menu for dinner was also delicious with various options that you wouldn’t get bored of should you stay for longer than a few days.
I think my favorite thing about the hotel was the very IKEA touches everywhere. Floor numbers were huge and made of corrugated cardboard used for packaging IKEA furniture.
The main lobby had a beautiful modern Swedish fireplace with decor galore.
The morning after arriving to Älmhult we walked across the parking lot to the Museum. Easiest commute ever. It wasn’t packed with people, the exhibitions were well explained in English and best of all, the kids creative areas were hands-on, interactive and fun for both my 5.5 year old and 1.5 yr old, and us adults too!
There is a craft room, toys, and the current exhibit titled Play! A playful experience, which is on until 3rd November of this year, was full of color, tactile and imaginative for all.
This particular exhibit captured the attention of the kids, with a room full of plush animals, building blocks, wall of masks you can digitally paint and more. I wish I had had the time to write this article before now to give people time to visit before the exhibition is taken down. Sorry!
Other exhibits in the museum look at the roots of IKEA, history of its founder Ingvar Kamprad, the evolution of the brand, the iconic mission to “Democratize design”, and the history of Swedish/Scandinavian design.
It also looks at the future of design and IKEA’s place within that future. Sustainability and innovation, as expected, remain a central focus for their designers.
The 5 elements of Democratic Design
1) Well designed.
3) Good quality.
4) Sustainability sourced and manufactured.
5) Truly affordable.
The IKEA Köket (a.k.a museum restaurant) features the “famous IKEA meatballs with a modern twist.” I had the salmon meatballs with fresh veggies and potatoes which were delish! They of course have other options akin to their in-store offerings. We went during business lunch time and many an IKEA employee was enjoying a hot meal and coffee in the cozy IKEA atmosphere.
The museum shop boasts unique to the Museum items as well as iconic pieces no longer available at the main stores. My mother-in-law picked up a few gifts and we purchased a kids cookbook and a classic IKEA PS miniature clock. I couldn’t resist!
Other things to do
During a bit of down time/toddler nap time, my mother-in-law and I ventured into the small city center and discovered a beautiful Småland glass shop and poked around the vintage furniture store as well.
Day trip to Kalmar
The day after our IKEA Museum visit we took a short train ride to Kalmar, Sweden to visit Kalmar Slott. We went for the Van Gogh Alive exhibit but were also pleasantly surprised by the kid activities. During the summer the castle is transformed into what they call “the children’s castle”. There was a tournament with different knight activities for the kids to take part in. There was a jester treasure hunt for the younger ones and Knighting ceremony for the older kids. We were a bit disappointed in that our 5.5 year old was not eligible to participate in the older knighting ceremony tournament, but she enjoyed dressing up nonetheless and venturing round. Us adults loved the Van Gogh experience and felt the visit was worth the cost.
After our visit to the castle we took the opportunity to venture around the city of Kalmar on a beautiful day. We found a lovely outdoor garden cafe for fika and took in the old houses and flowers. We ended up playing a game of mini-golf which was right by the train/bus station while we waited for our train. It was well worth the short train trip over.
The rest of the trip went something like this: Train ride back to Älmhult, dinner at the IKEA Museum Köket and rest at the IKEA hotel. Back on the train to Stockholm the next day. This return trip was a tad less comfortable. We ended up in the “family wagon”, which was fine. But reserved backwards facing seats. Lesson learned. Do not reserve rear-facing seats when you get motion sickness. Table seats are much more comfortable for the kids and adults!
I cannot say enough about what a wonderful visit we had to the IKEA museum and hotel. It was fun, informative, and inspiring. If you get the chance, GO!
We are excited to share more mini-getaways and other travel with our community. Where do you love to day trip from Stockholm? Happy travels Littlebearabroad community!
*All photos were taken by me of the IKEA Museum, IKEA Hotel, and KalmarSlott. This trip was not sponsored by IKEA or KalmarSlott.
*This was all paid for by Stephanie and none of this was in partnership or collaboration with any of the businesses mentioned in the article. This is not an advert.