Sweden - treehotel

sweden - treehotel.

[spotlight series. kent lindvall]

[treehotel soundtrack. crazy little thing called love]

It’s hard to put into words what we recently experienced at the Treehotel in Harads, Northern Sweden, just 60km south of the Arctic Circle.

The sweetest of Swedish hospitality, uniquely beautiful in design, and backed by breathtaking nature and 24 hour sunshine – the Treehotel is like no other hotel experience we have enjoyed.

Our special journey started with a 13 hour night train north from Stockholm, bound for Luleå. After pulling into Boden however (one stop before Luleå), there was a knock on our cabin door and we were greeted by a man introducing himself as Kent. It was 6am, we were a little dazed and confused. Who was this Kent character? Was he one of the train guards? But he shared the same name as the co-founder of the Treehotel? If so, why was he on our train? And weren’t we still one stop away from arriving at our destination? It was all very confusing. It turned out it was in fact Kent Lindvall – co-founder of the Treehotel – who had my train itinerary on email. Kent knew it would be quicker for me to get off in Boden, so he drove to the station, boarded the train, and got me off. He then drove me to Harads. The first, of a number of examples, where Kent (and his wonderful wife Britta) would go above and beyond their duty as hosts to deliver the kindest, most warm and generous hospitality we have ever experienced anywhere.

Harads is a tiny village of just 600 people, approx. 40mins from Boden. On arrival into Harads, you approach Britta’s Pensionat which sits on the main road into town. Britta has run this 30s style Swedish guesthouse for 20+ years. The guesthouse is run in association with the Treehotel, and is where all of the meals for both the guesthouse and Treehotel are served. From the guesthouse, it is a 500m walk through a stunning meadow to get to the Treehotel. On approach, as these amazing hanging structures become visible through the trees, you are immediately transported to some sort of fantasy land. What all childhood dreams are made of. The Cabin (which Kent tells us is the most favoured treehouse by guests) is the first treehouse you see, and also our favourite. With spectacular views of the Lule River valley, and miles of forests, these uniquely sustainable treehouses provide a striking contrast to their surrounding environment. With six treehouses in total, after The Cabin, you come across the Dragon Fly, then the Bird’s Nest, the Blue Cone, the Mirror Cube, and the UFO. Each wonderful canopy room designed by a different leading architect of Sweden. The story of how these treehouses came about is at once amazing and inspiring – the ever entrepreneurial and creative spirit of Kent Lindvall shining through.

It was a great privilege to sit down with Kent one-on-one to hear the full story, and we are excited to share it with you here.

Kent, who has an incredible knowledge and passion for the local region, has spent his whole life here in Harads. Kent and Britta both grew up here, on different sides of the river. A beautiful love story (we will let Kent tell you the details!), Kent was just 15, and Britta 16, when they first met. They became a couple five years later. Three daughters, and their family was complete. Passionate for the environment, their village and their family – these two are a dynamic and impressive team – incredibly special people.

At the Treehotel, guests can do as little or as much as they like. The spectacular natural environment (together with the sauna house) is one that obviously encourages rest and relaxation. Grab a book, hang in the trees, or relax in the sauna.

It is definitely worth getting out to explore the local area as well. In summer, Kent can arrange fly-fishing tours, kayaking tours, the onsite zipline, sightseeing tours and more. In winter, the most popular activity for guests is dog-sledding (we are definitely coming back for this). Northern lights tours are popular, as are ice-fishing…when the river freezes over and you dig holes in the ice, lie on moose skin and drop your fishing line down the hole.

As well as this, the oldest fishery in Sweden is only 20mins away. Kent took me here for a visit. With roots back to the 1300s, the original village is still set up here, and it’s a beautiful and peaceful spot for a picnic and to read up on the history of the area. Jokkmokk is also not far, and less than one hour away, lies Storforsen - a rapid in the Pite River, with an average flow of 250 m3/s (some of the biggest in Europe ). The energy here is amazing.

While at the Treehotel, you will be spoiled with traditional Swedish home-style cooking, using local produce to showcase dishes typical of the Swedish Lapland region. Britta, together with a small team (including Kent and Britta’s daughter Sophia) run the kitchen. An abundant breakfast offering, a huge lunch, and then a 3-course dinner as well - you certainly wont go hungry. Over our two night stay we tried everything from smoked reindeer (sorry Rudolph!), moose balls, and palt (balls of potato filled with pork).  We were even lucky enough to try some of Kent’s homebrew – his very own birch-flavored schnapps, vodka infused with local birch from the surrounding forest.

A visit to the Treehotel is the perfect answer for anyone wanting to escape to a remote fantasy location. An incredibly special hotel, where not only design is key, but sustainability as well. There are very few other places we know that have been so thoughtfully built on nature’s terms.If you get a chance, at least once in your lifetime, please consider a visit here. Kent, Britta and their beautiful treehouses will remain close to our hearts forever.



[spotlight series. yvonne knapp & dion amor]

[stockholm soundtrack. klapp klapp]

valkommen till stockholm!

our first time in sweden’s capital, and we fall in love in a flash. it is easy to see how this beautiful city – spread over fourteen islands of the archipelago – has consistently held a top ten position in the most livable cities in the world list. clean, green, friendly, efficient, easy, accessible, polite, stylish, and full of beautiful things (people, places, architecture and nature)…it’s beautiful here.

a creative urban scene and sense of community. a great mix of history and culture. a rapidly expanding food and music scene. a focus on healthy living. all surrounded by awe-inspiring nature – open waters, parks, endless light (in summer time anyway!) - and beautiful architecture. we admire the strong focus here on equal opportunity – free education, free healthcare – and we certainly noticed more men pushing prams here than anywhere else in the world (besides copenhagen, perhaps).

getting around stockholm is as easy as pie. wander the historic cobblestoned streets of gamla stan (the old town), bike along the countless bike paths, or hang by the water or in any of the beautiful parks. we love östermalm for its shopping and restaurants, but we spend most of our time in södermalm, nytorget (sofo – south of folkungagatan) and hornstull for more bohemian vibes.

with just three nights to explore this glamour, we pounded those cobblestones and did our best to hunt and gather some beautiful things.

to caffeinate…

drop: located near mariatorget subway station in soder, this is our favorite place for a caffeine hit. outdoor seating and a number of cute, pale-wooded rooms inside. a small food offering, its all about the coffee. service can be a little slow, but its worth it. expect to pay approx. usd$6-8 for your coffee.

gilda’s: we love the kitsch and color of this cute and cosy cafe. outdoor seating, across the road from a park, and an indoor room filled with mix and match vintage furniture, random eclectic pieces. good coffee and lunch options.

kaffe: in Söder. for good coffee and good sandwiches.

wienercafeet: a beautiful, old-school bistro-style café in the heart of östermalm (opposite cos!). great for breakfast or lunch.

juiceverket: for when you are craving a fresh juice. this cute pressade frukter & bar has a number of locations around town.

mellqvist: located on rörstrandsgatan (or “little paris”), mellqvist is a bit of an institution. Come here for excellent people watching and some hang time with the locals. One of stockholm’s original espresso joints.

to eat…

bread. our favorite food! and swedes do it well, very well. there are bakeries on every corner, but we liked:

petrus: we were so excited to stumble across this little beauty when looking for drop coffee. we were sad to discover though that they were closing the following day for their 5-week summer break! come here for the raisin frulla! yum.

brod&salt: bread, bread and more bread. Delicious.

reggev: for hummus. this place came recommended by a random australian (thanks stephen!) we met while drinking coffee at drop. the best recommendation of our trip. this tiny, cosy, friendly place pumps our hummus, hummus and more hummus. reminding us of our time living in tel aviv, this is our favorite cheap eats in the city. closes at 9pm, so get in early. lunch or dinner.

pelikan: for your best swedish experience. dion amor brought us here for schnapps and caviar and herring and reindeer and köttbullar(meatballs!) - all the Swedish favorites. Exceptional service in a grand old Swedish beer hall. A must.

östermalms saluhall: opening in 1888, this swedish foodhall is somewhat of an institution. come here for a long lunch, or quick tasty snack. try all of sweden’s favorites.

judit & bertil: a cute little bar in Hornstull that also serves a light dinner. Great music, great atmosphere. Very local.

8t8: raw food store on swedenborgsgaten. Come here for all your healthy staples.

Falafel baren: we like this casual and delicious falafel joint near herr judit.

urban deli: just across the park from gilda’s, this is an amazing stop for coffee, breakfast, lunch…anything. Come here for any of your deli needs as well. fruit, veg, meat, cheese…you name it, you can find it here.

il tempo: this cute corner spot in Söder does a good pizza and pasta.

café bla lotus: a charming little café serving healthy organic food. colorful, homely and kitsch.

pa&co: a tiny corner spot just up the road from the story hotel. always busy. ambitious young chefs serving up great things to an artsy crowd.

other things that come highly recommended from good, local sources, but we ran out of time to try:

linje 10: cute restaurant and bar in Hornstull, same building as Roy & Son.

barbro: bistro, bar and movie theatre

sosta: for coffee.

vurma: in for coffee, pastries and breakfast (a few locations).

snickarbacken 7: in the city centre, this is a café, exhibition space and concept store all in one - they do a good coffee as well.

delikatessen: cosy restaurant in a former fire station.

oaxen skafferi: deli of the renowned oaxen krog.

bio rio: catch a film here in this old-school movie theatre.

matbaren: for something more fancy, come here for a beautiful dinner – often recommended as one of Stockholm’s best restaurants. They open at 6pm, and you will find queues out the door from 5:30pm.

lydmar hotel: for lunch, dinner, drinks.

vassa eggen: great drinks, djs (from thursday to saturday), and stylish crowd.

to drink…

babylon: we were taken here on our first night (after a huge swedish dinner at pelikan) and love this outdoor neighborhood spot. great cocktails and wine. good music. fun crowd. closes at 1am.

mosebacke: come here for drinks at sunset. amazing views from the top terrace bar, and a wonderful beer garden. live music sometimes too.

teaterbaren: for beautiful views over the water and the city.

riche (preferably “lilla”, the smaller bar to the left): a small, cosy and friendly bar, great cocktails, djs. a stockholm institution.

to shop…

nk: this is a beautiful department store in central stockholm, showcasing all of the best Scandinavian (and other) brands…acne, filippa k etc. a must visit for lovers of scandifashion.

cos: owned by h&m, but a slightly higher-end version, this is our go-to swedish brand. great collections, great prices. if you visit towards the end of june, enjoy the huge summer sales.

aplace: probably our favorite store in stockholm. we love the local brands on offer here, as well as other Scandinavian designs incl samsoe and samsoe, and the great range of shoes (adidas, nike etc).

sweden does vintage well. really well. check out some of these favorites:

herr judit: (two different shops in stockholm) a mix between selected clean vintage and some new stuff from brands like barbour, ralph lauren, a.p.c., acne and more lesser known brands. also with a lot of accessories like scarves, sunglasses, ties etc.two stores, one in södermalm  and one in östermalm.

brandstationen:also in södermalm. owned by the same people behind herr judit. situated in an old fire station, this “mad men” inspired store offers vintage furniture, decorations and accessories.

lisa larsson : for well-kept designer clothing at a fraction of the price.

acne: a fashion powerhouse, this is one of sweden’s most iconic and successful brands. many locations, but be sure to visit the flagship store in norrmalmstorg which is located in a building that once housed the bank where the 'stockholm syndrome' heist took place; you can still see the vaults.

acne archive: come here for sample stock and big discounts.

stutterheim: for luxury, handmade raincoats and wellies.

konst-ig: we love this store for their amazing selection of art books and magazines.

grandpa: we love this store in Södermalm (they have two other locations as well). Scandinavian and international fashion and interiors. On the last Thursday evening of each month, you’ll find a dj spinning tunes and complimentary wine.

gram: an adorable new store in södermalm (having opened in june), come to this tiny white-washed space for new kicks.

parlans konfektyr: for deliciously tasty, and beautiful packaged, nougat.

sns: for the best sneakers in town.

for records: try fade or pet sounds.

roy and son: for classic shaves.

adisgladis: for men – organic / recycling / off-grid.

möbelmakeri: a gorgeous, happy and bright interior and design store by mimmi staaf, in Hägersten.  

svenskt tenn: for iconic swedish interior design.

to sleep…

story hotel: this is our favorite sleeping option inÖstermalm. a great location. easy 2min walk from Östermalm T station (50m down the road). self check-in (with a passcode you are emailed before arrival, which also acts as your room key). Buzzing bar and restaurant downstairs. cute rooms. and be spoiled with a delicious and plentiful breakfast each morning – great muesli, fruit, yoghurt, juice, breads, cheese, meat, eggs, etc etc.

scandic malmen: great value rooms – clean and simple, and a fabulous location – right in the heart of Södermalm, very close to nyorget. this is the perfect sleeping option for those on a smaller budget who want to be right in the eating/drinking/more hipster action.

to do…

head north to the swedish lapland to visit the phenomenal treehotel (read more here), our most favorite swedish experience yet.

fotografiksa: stockholm’s contemporary photography museum is housed in a stunning warehouse building on the water. An absolute must.

take a boat to the archipelago. head for the waterfront, jump on a boat to the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago. the closest island if you just want to go for a day trip is calledfjäderholmarna. more traditional (less touristy) island options can be found a bit further away (3 hours plus).

spend an afternoon out on djurgården (with its forests, green parks, rose gardens and bike paths) and don't miss rosendal trädgård for coffee. for the organic garden, rosendals trädgård, “the rose valley”. its plots and greenhouses yield a wide selection of biodynamic greens, most of them sold in theplant shop and the garden shop, or used for cooking in the garden café.

Visit the Moderna museet: stockholm’s contemporary art museum.

millesgården: gorgeous sea views from this lovely haven for art and culture. a cute café as well.

visit sven-harrys: in the vasastan area. a spectacular all brass building next to vasaparken, where locals hang out during the summer.

coffice: co-working space.

for yoga: we didn’t get a chance to try it, but we did like the look of yoga inuti in sofo.

to know…

the airport train is the quickest and most efficient way into the center of stockholm. 250sek one way (or buy two tickets at the same time for only 280sek, a big saving). journey is super easy and takes only 20mins into t-centralen – from there it is only one stop on the red line to ostermalm (and the stop for story hotel in riddargarten).

buy subway tickets from the convenience stores at the subway station (rather than the ticket window) for 36 sek (compared with 44 sek if you buy from ticket window). A small, but welcome, saving!