Our Stay at Vår Gård Saltsjöbaden in the Stockholm Archipelago

Our Stay at Vår Gård Saltsjöbaden in the Stockholm Archipelago


Sponsored by Vår Gård Saltsjöbaden

Is it me or do the first few months of the year always feel a little intense? Take last week, for example: work, food shopping, children’s activities, a car that needed fixing, by the time Friday arrived I was completely dishevelled! And then I remembered Per and I had a weekend trip planned. it couldn’t have come at a better time! As our train pulled out of Malmö and raced through the Swedish countryside, my pulse lowered with every lake, forest and river we passed. So much so, that by the time we stepped off the train at Vår Gård Saltsjöbaden in the Stockholm archipelago with the sea and islands stretched out before us, all the stress of the week completely fell away.  I couldn’t think of a more peaceful place to varva ner (unwind). Here are a few snapshots from our weekend, in the hope that it might inspire you to travel to this wonderful part of the world too! 
Located directly on the shore of the Baltic, 30 to 40 minutes train ride from Stockholm City centre, Vår Gård was built in 1924 and is well known as a conference hotel (evidence of which lies in the modern accommodation block). In recent years, however, the hotel has re-invented itself as a wonderful design hotel, attracting couples and families alike, who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital, and relax surrounded by nature, art and design, board games and books – as well as great food and wine!  

The slumber! 

I was happy to discover Vår Gård offers rooms for every budget – from single and twin rooms to magnificent waterfront suites – with the same attention to ‘design’ detail no matter which you choose. It’s also a very down-to-earth environment where everyone is made to feel welcome. 

Keen to explore the design, on the first night we checked into a junior suite with nature-inspired wallpaper, cosy wood finishes, Serge Mouilles lamps and the softest Himla bedding. I was happy to find several design books on the shelf – which I read while half watching the Winter Olympics with Per (we’re so sociable aren’t we – te he he!). Needless to say, we felt instantly at home! 
On the second night we excitedly moved into the Suite LOVE (see what they did there with the name?) – one of three waterfront suites (after all it was St Valentine’s weekend!). I’d heard so much about this room and couldn’t wait to see it in person. 

Despite a library of books and a stack of board games – nothing could distract us from the ever-changing view over the water (not even Sweden’s Winter Olympic medal bids!). The seascape was simply breath-taking. 

The suite also had a droolworthy bathroom complete with sage green subway tiles, a heated white herringbone floor and aged brass fixtures. But to me, the showstopper was the bath which I luxuriated in with a cup of tea and a book (after all, you can take a girl out of England, but you can’t take England out of the girl, right?).  

Are you a fan of bubble baths too?  

Bada bastu (sauna / dip) 

What would a getaway in Sweden be without a traditional ‘bada bastu‘ (sauna – bathe)? Every room includes a dressing gown and slippers so you can wander down to the sauna in comfort. 

A dip in the frozen sea after a sauna sounds crazy – especially when there’s a dusting of snow on the ground, but trust me, nothing makes you feel more relaxed. It’s a ritual many Scandinavians swear by, and scientists have proven it to have many health benefits including pain relief, stress busting and improving circulation as well as cardiovascular to name a few. 

Per, among other Swedes gracefully enter the water, remaining completely still for a few moments before exiting. My plunge, on the other hand is somewhat quicker! Blink and you’ll miss it. I like to blame it on my lack of Viking genes, but a lady at our local Malmö sauna told me the other day that it’s a skill you develop over time. She has reached the point where she can swim out to a buoy 10 metres way in 2 degrees Celsius (35.5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures. I kid you not! 

Food for thought

Feeling more relaxed than ever after our bada bastu – and a lovely walk, we headed to the restaurant for supper. I have to say, Vår Gård has pulled out all the stops on the gourmet experience and offers several mouth-watering packages including everything from lunch and a ‘casual tea’ to a ’24-hour taste experience’. For the more laidback, there’s also the option to grill your own sausages over a fire on the shore. Love that!

The main dining area overlooks the water, and when we strolled in, the candlelit room and soft babble of voices and laughter felt like a big warm hug. We tucked into fresh oysters, scallops with poached eggs and winter truffle, Cod with caviar and flower cress and chocolate mousse with raspberry and elderflower. The staff were unbelievably friendly, buoyed by the newly lifted restrictions. Their joy that Vår Gård was thriving once again was palpable throughout our stay! 

The Northern Lights

On our way back to our room we were rewarded by the magnificent sight of the Northern Lights. It was a first for us, living in the south – and although faint, the unmistakable shaft of green light that pierced the darkness was simply magical. Apparently a very rare sighting – which we owed to the crystal-clear night sky. 

The in-house bakery 

Imagine my delight when I discovered the Vår Gård bakery is well known in the area for its sourdough bread, croissants, cinnamon buns and other delicacies (I do have such a sweet tooth after all, how about you?). 
Locals flock here for the ‘casual afternoon tea‘ (a relaxed take on English high tea) – before picking up a loaf of sourdough bread or cinnamon buns to take home. If you’re a fan of patisserie, you’ll also love the homemade pastries (I can highly recommend the truffles!). 

An in-house bakery also lends itself to a great breakfast. And in my mind, there’s nothing better than waking up to warm bread straight from the oven and a perfectly brewed coffee. Such a luxury compared to the morning mayhem back home! 

I might just have tucked into sausages, eggs and bacon – as well as smoked salmon. Although I noticed others managed to refrain themselves and indulge in more healthy fare including fruit and chia seeds with a shot of detoxing cucumber and spinach (perhaps they were booked into the ‘dance and workout weekend‘), I wasn’t quite sure! 

We eked out the final moments of our stay relaxing in the communal area, surrounded by design pieces as well as paintings and sculptures – and stacks of newspapers and magazines. All in all, a perfect end to a magical weekend. 

We were sad to step back on the train, but also excited to see our girls – energy restored!

I hope this post has inspired you to visit the Stockholm archipelagos one day, and if you do, I can highly recommend Vår Gård Saltsjöbaden – either for a longer stay, or simply tapped on to the end of a Stockholm City break so you can koppla av (unwind) before you return home. 
Best of all? You might be visiting sooner than you think as I’m holding an instagram give-away to win a one-night stay in Suite LOVE with a three-course dinner and breakfast for two (travel not included) right now. Hop on over to enter
A big tack så mycket (thank you very much) to Vår Gård Hotel for a wonderful stay! We’ll be back! 

Niki

Photography: Per & Niki Brantmark 





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