For New Year, we travelled to Harads, in Lapland Sweden, the land of the sami, North of the arctic circle. I had booked this trip a year ago whilst in Burma. I had waited for years to stay at the Tree Hotel. When I discovered this one of a kind hotel in a magazine on architecture, I started to do some research and I got in touch with the guys at the Treehotel, at the time I was pregnant with my daughter.
Seven Scandinavian architects built treehouses for Sweden’s Treehotel, including a bird’s nest, a mirrored cube where we stayed for a few nights…and the charred timber cabin added later by Snøhetta. Set up by Kent Lindvall and his wife Britta in 2010, the Treehotel proposes themed lodgings for tourists venturing north of the Arctic Circle in search of the Northern Lights.
The seven suites are arranged through a stretch of woodland located in Harads, with designs by architects including Tham + Videgård Arkitekter and Rintala Eggertsson Architects. “The idea behind Treehotel is to offer high-standard accommodation in a harmonious place where none of the ordinary stress of everyday life exists,” said Kent Lindvall.
The Lindvall’s were inspired by Jonas Selberg Augustsen’s film The Tree Lover, a tale of three urbanites that build a treehouse together in the forest. At the time, the couple were running a 1930s guesthouse on the site where the movie was shot, but struggling to attract business. So they decided to rent out the treehouse instead.
They ran the hotel for six years and struggled so they had to find a new idea to attract guests,” explained Lindvall. They started to hire the treehouse that was built for this film. “People came to stay in the Treehouse and we noticed when they came back for breakfast they had big smiles on their faces; they were really happy with the experience of staying high up in the tree and we thought – this is something we can do more with,” added Lindvall.
I had waited for seven years to fulfilling this dream and to share it with my little family. These are few of our adventures in magical Swedish Lapland.
On the first night, we enjoyed an arctic dinner, sitting on reindeer skins in a heated tipi tent on the iced Lule river. We tasted a delicious wild mushroom soup, moose and reindeer meat with local vegetables. This beautiful food accompanied with warm lingonberries juice and local wine. The tent was lit by torches and candles and it was freezing outside and it was so silent, so peaceful, and the sky was starry. And it was just us there in the wilderness.
Arctic Swedish cuisine is governed by seasonal ingredients found in the wild, such as reindeer, elk, ptarmigan, Arctic char, wild mushrooms and berries.
Northern Sweden’s largely flat, snow-covered expanses are just crying out for exploration. And racing in the Arctic twilight, your sled pulled along by a team of baying alaskan huskies, is an exhilarating way to go. On the day we went dog sledding, the light was light pink and gently wrapping trees. It was minus 23, the scenery was just really out of this world. I had wanted to offer this special experience to Paloma and the seven years wait was definitely worth it.
Bruno learnt the noble art of ice fishing at the best fishing spots along the river. His experienced fishing guide taught him all the tricks of the trade, what lures to use and how different fish behave in different waters. He caught an arctic char that Sebastian, the Tree Hotel’s chef prepared for his dinner.
The eerie celestial spectacle of yellowish-green, violet, white and red streaks, swirls and waves sweeping across the polar night sky has captivated travellers and the people of the north for centuries. The aurora borealis is caused by the collision of energy-charged sun particles with atoms in the Earth’s magnetic field. You may be lucky!
Of course, we recommend you to stay at the Tree Hotel but advise you to book well ahead of your stay. They only have seven treehouses and this intimate hotel gets booked quickly, especially at this time of the Year. They told us that April and May are low season for them. We met Eric who took us to visit Lars, a 73 years old sami reindeer herder, he told us about his place, the Loggers Lodge.
Loggers Lodge is the perfect location to experience the spirit of Swedish Lapland, it stands in the middle of a remote forest, with a river running nearby. A lack of surrounding lights makes the star-filled sky magical and a nearby clearing in the wood is the ideal place to watch the Northern Lights flicker and dance on clear nights. The nearest town is some nine miles away.This was once, as the name implies, a logger’s lodge, from where timber would be shipped down the nearby Lule River. The big fireplace is an original feature and was once used for cooking. Eric Borg and Jörgen Drugge, who run the Pure Lapland guiding company and who jointly manage the property, have renovated it with great taste. The fireplace has been made into an eye-catching centrepiece, raised off the floor and framed with glass panels so that it forms the heart of the room. Décor draws on local artefacts from woven rugs to reindeer skins and Swedish design classics like the Lamino chairs, of which here there are two, clad in sheepskin. It is extremely cosy in character with a luxurious, yet authentic style.Guests are looked after by Eric and Jörgen, who cook and bring the meals to the lodge, and offer a variety of knowledgably guided tours. You can choose to visit the Arctic Circle, have a glimpse of the Sami culture (including lunch with a reindeer herder), go on a snowmobile safari or Nordic ski tour.
In summer, there is fishing, midnight horse riding and mounted archery, and of course there are Northern Light photography expeditions. A few steps from the lodge there is a Sauna with an adjacent shower, and in front of it is a hot tub, which Eric or Jörgen will heat up for you for star-lit soaking. We are planning to stay there next time and to visit the Jokkmokk winter market.
Jokkmokk Winter Market
Taking place on the first weekend in February, the market attracts around 30,000 people, including Sámi artisans from all over northern Sweden who gather to sell their unique duodji (handicrafts), gossip and watch the reindeer races on frozen Lake Talvatissjön. The market is preceded by several days of folk music, food tasting sessions, plays, parades, and photography and art exhibitions. Planning to visit next year.
Wishing you an inspiring 2018!