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Sweden's Salt & Sill sits -- or should we say floats -- on the western coast of the country and is more of an inn than a hotel, sporting only 23 rooms with 46 beds.
It was built upon pontoons and sailed to its current location in 2008 (shown above), where it is tied (very tightly!) to the dock in a calm inlet on the rocky island of Tjorn, about an hour’s drive from Gothenburg. It was the first floating hotel built in Sweden, and while other locations within the country have begun to experiment with prototypes of the concept, it is the only one of its kind that is fully functional.
The islands off the coast of Sweden are relatively unknown to North American travelers, which is exactly what makes them such a great place to visit. You won’t find any high-rise hotels, and the rocky coastline squashes any worry of overdevelopment. Visiting them feels like you’ve stumbled upon an old fishing village where time refuses to catch up.
Salt & Sill embodies the area with its simplicity and emphasis on the sea, both in terms of its personality and cuisine. In the restaurant, you’ll find the Swedish staples – herring and smoked salmon, for example – and your days are filled with kayaking, boating, and walks by the sea. Summer is by no means long in Sweden, but the coastline is as beautiful as any when the sun does decide to come out.
Ever seen that Charlie Sheen movie The Chase? Remember how he steals the beautiful blonde's car and takes her hostage, but he charms her so well that she ends up straddling him as they cruise down the highway, her back to the steering wheel?
Typical Charlie, we know, but it's also a perfect example of what's called the Stockholm Syndrome -- when the victim begins to identify with the person holding the gun. It doesn't take a genius to figure out this phrase stems from Sweden, but how? And why? According to the FBI, roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm Syndrome during or after an incident.
Why compassion arises for captors is still up for debate, but we got an up-close look at the origin of the phenomenon last week during a visit to the new Hotel Nobis in Stockholm. In 1973, Stockholm made headlines around the world when a bank robber held four people hostage for six days. The southern part of the hotel building (the white part adjacent to the Nobis in the photo below) was where the bank used to be, where the hostages were held.
Raise your hand if you've had sex on the beach.
Congrats, you're one of a million. You got sand in your shorts (or worse). You positioned yourself in the corner of the small lifeguard stand. We're awfully proud. Did you watch the sunset and brush her hair behind her ear, too? Yawn.
Now, a show of hands, who's melted a forearm into a bed before? No? That's what we thought!
But, seriously, our headline is meant to be taken literally, kids. Ice hotels can be hella romantic, and the novelty of the experience will knock your socks off. Though keepin' 'em on is a special kind of sexy we can't imagine.
We're fresh off a stay at Sweden's Ice Hotel, and we can tell you firsthand the stories of individuals breaking a sweat in the heat of the night are totally true. Can you get sticky in your sleeping bag? Youbetcha!
So instead of moaning about the plummeting temps outside, we'll show you how it can get steamy, even in the Arctic.
Sometimes HC editors get in little tiffs. Nothing serious, we just roll our eyes at each other’s choices when it comes to hotel fun. Some of us would hole up in a hostel in a blink of an eye, where others gave up that option when we became eligible to rent a car.
That’s when we like to play a little game of “Which Would You Rather…” and we state our case hoping to prove our pick is better.
Today's Episode: Ice Hotel vs. Caribbean Resort
WakeandWander, HotelChatter Contributing Editor
“This is a shot from an artist's suite at the Ice Hotel near Kiruna, Sweden. It was the first and initial ice hotel in the world. The room is called The Flower, can you see why? I’m out here dogsledding, looking at pine trees covered with snow. It’s incredibly beautiful. Wait ‘til you see the pictures when I do the round-up on ice hotels next week!”
It’s no secret we love a swanky suite, but ones dedicated to Hollywood divas of yesteryear are even better. The Radisson Blu Strand Stockholm is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a new suite named after one of its most famous guests, Greta Garbo.
The Greta Garbo Suite is inspired by the star's costumes and jewelry, as well as art and items from her movies of which grace the black and gold room, and were given to the hotel by Garbo’s family, who still holiday there and had a hand in the design.
Garbo, who was born in Sweden, first visited the 152-room hotel as an aspiring actress back in the ‘20s and it continued to be her favorite spot well after she made it big in Tinseltown.
Engelbrekt Church, a Stockholm monument near the site of a proposed boutique hotel that has locals "up in arms"
Residents of one of Stockholm's most well-to-do neighborhoods are throwing a ritzy hissy fit over the construction of a new hotel, though it's unclear whether they take issue with the fact that the boutique property will require converting a historic building, because it won't live up to their posh standards, or a combination of both.
Hotel Chatter admits a soft spot for Swedes, what with the bounty of pop culture gifts with which they've furnished the world (like, you know, Robyn, IKEA, and The Fun Theory campaign). The notably upbeat Scandinavians harbor a mutual love for aspects of American culture, such as…sourdough bread?
Lots of unhappy hotel guests slam budget hotel furniture, or just ugly hotel furniture, by saying it's been store-bought from IKEA. So we're guessing they should probably never visit Vardshuset Hotell and Restaurang, the official IKEA Hotel, located next to the company's headquarters in Almhult, Sweden.
We learned about the existence of the hotel through the New Yorker's recent story on the IKEA culture, when the reporter, Lauren Collins, actually spent a night at the hotel. Here's what she said:
That night I stayed at the IKEA Hotel. Its web site promises, "Guests sleep well and wake up refreshed without art or frills." The lounge area was bright, like a scene from the IKEA catalogue. I sat on a candy-striped KARLSTAD chair and listened to supply managers discuss the respective turn-around times of China and Pakistan in global English. Swedish-speaking men with mustaches wore short-sleeved plaid shirts and drank Eriksberg beer...
Behind the reception desk was a series of candy jars filled with gummi bears and caramels. Why was the receptionist smiling so broadly? were the toasting salesmen bit players in some sort of Almhultian "Truman Show"?
Later that night, when she went up to her room for bed, there was a "pair of spartan single beds" and on top of the pine desk sat two books--the New Testament and the IKEA catalogue.
Hotels are not ones to shy away from sex what with all the sex kits we've seen in the minibars in the past years, but this hotel goes far above and beyond a black box full of condoms, lube and massage oil and even the porn offerings on the TV.
The Venusgarden Hotel near Malmo, Sweden offers a professional orgasm coach on staff. Actually the coach is Ylva Franzén, the proprietor of the three-bedroom farmhouse as well as the author of a best-selling book Orgasmera Mera (Orgasming More).
Each of the three "Rooms of Love" are sensually-named--Kamasutra, Tao, and Venus, and all feature "feathers, massage oils, perfumed candles, erotic illustrations, and a basket of love toys, along with a copy of Franzén’s book", of course.
But that's not all. Up in the Tao room (in the attic) there's a big round bed and a mirror on the ceiling to further get you in the mood. The Venus room promises a "magic pill" for him (Viagra?) and a swing above the bed. But the Kamasutra room might be where you want to spend your stay as the canopy bed in the center of the room is a place where "you can relax and make love for three days like the Indian gods." And don't forget, Franzén is on call to help you should any issues, um, arise.
The Swedish Icehotel attracts adventurous types with its all-ice accommodations 12 miles north of the Arctic Circle. But the sci-fi squad and design geeks will want to make reservations at the hotel to check out the new Tron-themed suite.
Inspired by a nightclub the upcoming Tron: Legacy flick, the "Legacy of the River" suite is pimped out with futuristic lights using technology the hotel's never used in its 20-year history.
While we hate it when we walk into a hotel room and the A/C is blasting a below 72-degree temperature, we'll have to make an exception at The Icehotel, which is opening for the season early next month in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
The hotel is actually an 80-room hostel which is rebuilt annually from snow and crystal-clear ice.
The Icehotel is a spot where half the fun is in staying there. It begins from the moment that you open the main, reindeer-skin-clad doors and are greeted by a grand, ice-pillared hallway illuminated by a spectacular ice chandelier. The interior temperature, hovering around 23 degrees Fahrenheit, actually feels almost balmy, especially when compared to the outside temperature which can drop to minus 34 Fahrenheit.
Balmy? We'll see about that. Guests do get special gear to wear during their stay such as a one-piece thermal suit, mittens, hat and thermal waterproof boots. At night, you'll snuggle down into your thermal sleeping bags.
The room categories at the Icehotel start at a standard Snow Room and work up to an Ice Room (complete with actual ice "furniture") and the Art Suite (individually themed with ice art). Looking for a special getaway for your honeymoon? The Art Suite has lockable doors and double sleeping bags available. We're guessing that candles are out of the question though. (Incredibly, the hotel has a very popular Ice Chapel where several weddings are held each season.)
If you haven't had your daily dose of caffeine yet, load up now. What you're looking at is one of the newest hotels in Sweden. No, we haven't lost our marbles. This is the Mirrored Cube room, part of the Treehotel which opens this Saturday in the village of Harads, just south of the Arctic Circle.
We're all for high-concept hotel design, but this has to be one of the wackiest rooms we've seen yet. And lest you think this is as out-there as it gets at the Treehotel, you should know that other rooms have names such as The Bird's Nest, The Cabin and The Blue Cone. These four will be ready for the grand opening, and another 20 will be designed and unveiled over the next five years.