While many countries around Europe are currently off limits, Sweden is very much open for business, you won’t have to quarantine when you get home and there are some great new luxury hotels and experiences to be enjoyed over the next few months.
If you’re still up for a city break, stylishly classic boutique hotel Villa Dagmar (from £245 for a double) in the centre of Stockholm is due to open any minute, on vibrant Östermalmstorg, next door to Ostermalms Saluhall, the city’s historic food hall. This chic urban retreat will feature a flower shop, a concept food store selling seasonal local produce and a restaurant run by Daniel Höglander and Niclas Jönsson, the owner and chef of one of Stockholm’s best loved Michelin starred restaurants, Aloë.
Meanwhile in south-east Sweden, Scandinavia’s most renowned fenced nature reserve, Eriksberg in Blekinge, has just launched the spectacular Synvillan – a futuristic stainless steel floating mirrored villa suspended three metres above the ground which reflects its surroundings, with the wild animals that roam there – European bison, red deer, fallow deer, Davis Deer, mouflon sheep and wild boar viewed through a glass floor (from £360 per night).
Remote lighthouse Pater Noster on the island of Hamneskär in the west, has been being gradually transformed into a uniquely luxurious nine-room guesthouse, which will officially launch in 2021. Rooms can be rented individually (from £442 per person on a bed, breakfast and dinner basis) or you and your buddies can take the whole place on an exclusive use basis from £18,566 per night.
There has never been such a buzz about Swedish Lapland, not least because Scandinavian Airlines is launching new direct flights from London Stansted to Luleå, its capital, on December 18th, departing on Fridays and Mondays and running until the end of March. This cuts out the stopover in Stockholm, which can use up precious time on a weekend break.
In addition to new flights, there is lots happening in Sweden's northernmost province, including the re-opening of the twelve-room Arctic Bath spa, the wonderfully futuristic, nest-shaped wellness centre with its multiple pools and floating cabins which had only just launched when lockdown started (if you take at least six rooms for three nights, you can book it on an exclusive-use basis between now and its official launch in November.
In fact, it seems Arctic wellness is now all the rage so the major luxury tour operators, from Abercrombie & Kent and Scott Dunn to Discover the World are offering new trips there this winter with strong wellness and spa elements.
Elsewhere in Swedish Lapland on the island of Hindersön, the wonderfully authentic-feeling four-room Jopikgården Lodge will open on December 18th and remain open until 15 March 2021. At the end of an 8km ice road, this is the ideal wilderness escape where you can try snowshoeing, skiing, fat biking, ice-fishing, fire-making, dog-sledding and feast on the Northern Lights. The lodge offers a four-day Arctic escape from £1,130 per person on a full-board basis, excluding flights.
For a grand but uniquely local experience, consider a stay at Melderstein Manor (sleeps 11), built by the first iron ore prospector in the area, Carl-Johan Thingwall in the 1730s. After stints as a country estate and a school boarding house, among other things, Thingwall’s direct descendants bought the estate back in 1995, restored it and now run it as a hotel and restaurant.
A new experience being offered this autumn allows you to arrive by dogsled, hurtling up the estate’s original iron ore road to the house to enjoy a weekend in the company of your owner-hosts. While you can stay on a per-room basis, it's ideal for an exclusive-use stay, which costs from £790 per night.
With reports in that this season's northern lights have already put on quite a show, you might consider the new Covid-friendly, five-day Private Aurora Escape being offered by Lights Over Lapland, which specialises in photography-based Aurora watching trips.
Ideal for a six-person group, the trip is being hosted by Lights Over Lapland's founder Chad Blakley who will host guests at his own three-bedroom house in Abisko. The trip includes daily guided outdoor hikes, ice-fishing, snow-shoeing and photography lessons and night-time aurora spotting adventures. The trip costs from £1,220 per person, based on six sharing.
For something truly epic, Original Travel has just launched a 42-day luxury Scandinavian Sabbatical (price on request), an outdoor-focused adventure through Sweden and Norway (although it can be tailored to just Sweden), kicking off on Sweden’s wild west coast and taking in Norway’s seafaring city of Bergen - staying in everything from treehouses to fisherman’s cabins and enjoying seafood safaris, kayaking, hiking and biking along the way.
Whatever you opt for, there is plenty on offer in Sweden over the coming months, so now is a great time to go.
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