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A Heavenly Stay On Sweden’s West Coast

// Paid partnership with Carpe Diem Beds, all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love

Have you been able to travel recently? This time last week I made my way up to Fiskebäckskil on the West coast of Sweden - and although it wasn't far away, boy did it feel like luxury! I consider the Gothenburg archipelagos one of Sweden's best key secrets. Characterised by a rugged coastline dotted with hundreds of islands and skerries (see my island hopping guide!), the natural beauty of this part of the world has inspired many a poet, artist and design idea. And it's the latter which brought me here this Autumn. 

Around 120 kilometres from Gothenburg (and a short rib boat ride from where I was staying) you'll find the tiny, picturesque island of Stora Kornö. Accessible by boat, the harbour was once a thriving fishing port, with fishermen and other locals residing in one of the 52 houses. Today, no one lives here year-round. Instead, it's a popular summer destination for those who own cottages, sailors (like Per and I) and day trippers. Locals also flock to the island in the Autumn to celebrate the start of lobster season, and as we pulled up in the rib, many had gathered in the harbour ready to lay their pots. 

But we were here for a different reason: to walk in the footsteps of the brilliant Carpe Diem Beds founder, chiropractor Börje Thuleskär!

Story has it that Börje was relaxing on a bed of heather on the cliffs on the Southwestern shore, feeling happy and relaxed - and most importantly, supremely comfortable. He'd been disappointed by his inability to find a comfortable bed and marvelled at how the heather moulded to his body and gave him an incredible feeling of weightlessness. He immediately struck upon the idea of building his own bed - and the idea for Carpe Diem Beds was born. 


Today, the Swedish brand offers a range of luxury made-to-order, supremely comfortable beds (I'm not just saying that, I've had one for years and slept like a baby ever since!). Hand-built in nearby Lysekil, each bed is named after a local island and individually signed by the crafstperson - high quality Swedish design at it's finest! 

Back on the island of Skaftö and relaxing in my room at Gullmarsstrand Hotel, I marvelled at how a local business, has grown into a globally recognised brand, and sold in over 20 countries. You'll likely know someone who owns one of their beds - or might have been lucky enough to sleep in one at a design hotel as far and wide as Mauritious and the USA - or even the magnificent Ice Hotel (a dream of mine - have you ever been?). 

But this time, I didn't need to travel far. 

My room was heavenly! Sheer curtains bellowed in the fresh Autumn breeze and I could make out the church spire of Lysekil across the sound. Centre stage was the magnificent Vindö (AKA 'The Flying Bed') - the Carpe Diem Bed pièce de résistance, featuring several vibration massage programs, an automatic neck and lumbar support as well as adjustable head and foot rests! 

And best of all, I had it completely to myself. It was the perfect place to unwind, catch up on some much needed sleep surrounded by luxurious comfort and stay in bed on a Tuesday, with a coffee and a good book! How heavenly! 


All in all, a blissful few days and so hard to tear myself away from the wonderful rawness of the nature at this time of the year - and the cosiness and comfort of my room! Thank you Carpe Diem Beds and Gullmarsstrand Hotel

I only wish I could have stayed for lobster season. 

Next year!

If you're planning on visiting Sweden at some point, make sure you come to this part of the country - it's staggeringly beautiful! In the meantime, keep a look out for my post in the coming weeks about how to turn your own bedroom into a lap of luxury for the winter. I mean, if we're going to hibernate, we might as well do it in style, right?

Niki

This post is brought to you in paid collaboration with Carpe Diem Beds. All words are my own and I only ever recommend brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the Scandinavian businesses that make My Scandinavian Home possible. 

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City Guide: 48 Hours in Helsingborg, Sweden

In paid collaboration with Visit Helsingborg. Thank you to Visit Helsingborg for making this guide possible. All words and pictures are my own and I genuinely love this city and the places I mention. 

I'm often asked which other Swedish city I would live in. The answer is Helsingborg. Not only is it just up the coast (around 50 km North of Malmö), it's also Per's hometown and where his Mother still lives today.  Located on the shores of the Öresund Strait opposite Helsingør in Denmark, Helsingborg is Sweden's eighth largest city (with a population of 150,000) making it small enough to feel cosy and intimate - yet large enough to feel full of energy. From boutique shops, and cultural events to lush gardens and a vineyard - there's plenty to do over the space of a weekend! 

With my very own local guide in Per and some great tips from Evelina at Visit Helsingborg, it was easy to wile away a weekend in this wonderful town. Here's my guide: 

Where to stay: 
V Hotel: I love a small boutique hotel, and V Hotel was wonderful! Bang in the centre of town, it's been recently refurnished to a high standard with every room offering something unique. It's cosy, personal and  the breakfast was excellent! 
Elite Hotel Mollberg: Located on Stortorget (the main square) in Helsingborg, Elite Hotel Mollberg is situated in a historic building dating back too the 14th century and is full of character and charm. 
Clarion Sea U: This recently opened large, luxurious hotel invites guests to enjoy a gym, rooftop pool, gym and a restaurant and bar overlooking the sea.  

Getting there: 
Train: Helsingborg has excellent rail connections with Copenhagen Airport, Malmö and Gothenburg. 
Bus: There's a regular bus service between major cities including Stockholm, Malmö, Copenhagen and Oslo. 
Car: Take the E4 from Stockholm or E6 from Malmö. 
Boat: It's a 20-minute ferry ride from Helsingør, Denmark with ferries departing every 15 minutes. 
Plane: Ängelholm-Helsingborg, Malmö Sturup and Copenhagen are all within easy reach. 

Getting around: Everything in the city is within an easy stroll, however if you'd like to travel to areas a little further afield, an e-bike is a great option (available from the Travel Shop). There's also a well connected bus network. 

Day 1: Design shopping, lunch by the sea and a visit to Fredriksdal


Shopping: There's nothing like shopping in a different city for a day, don't you think? And Helsingborg is filled with boutique shops. Wander along Kullagatan, the main pedestrian street where most you'll find most of the major city shops, but take your time to wonder up the smaller lanes too - there are some hidden gems to be found!

Design / homeware boutiques: The city boasts a few really wonderful interior design shops, often selling items you won't find elsewhere. 

Pop into Världsbutiken fair trade store for gifts and say 'hej' to my Mother-in-law, who volunteers here several days a week. And then head to Frånö Antik Bod for Swedish antiques. 


If you look carefully on Drottninggatan you'll come across the well hidden shop front of By Mouritzen - where a treasure trove of unique homeware awaits. I picked up curled candles, vowing to return for bigger items. 
Lunch stop



There are SO MANY lunch options in the city. If you'd like to stay bang in the centre, tuck into Italian at Olsons Skafferi - a cosy restaurant opposite Sankta Maria church on picturesque Maria Torget (square).

Locals also love Etoile - a relaxed French bistro which reportedly serves the best cappuccino in town. It's a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and a little birdie tells me, a favourite of local hero, former footballer Henrik 'Henke' Larsson! 

Alternatively, if it's beautiful weather, head down to the harbour and stroll North along the sea front promenade - enjoying views of the sandy beach and Denmark just over the sound until you come to the popular beach bar: Fria Bad & Bar. 

The lively and relaxed seasonal diner has a fab location overlooking the beach. Tuck into burgers, pizzas and all kinds of sea food between May and September. It's perfect for people watching, or simply enjoying the view over a cool beer, glass of rosé or house favourite - Aperol Spritz! It's a great place to hang out at sunset too! Or, if you're up for a boogie, it turns into a nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer. 


Energy renewed, head to Kärnan - a medieval tower with great views - before strolling along Landborg promenade to my favourite shop Butik Linnea! 

Note: if you'd like more of a walk, continue along the promenade through lush greenery and over hills with great views off the city! 


If you love plants, pots, interiors and cool Swedish and Danish clothing brands and a good cafe - you'll be in shop heaven! I could have stayed for hours but alas, Per was waiting and we had a tight schedule to keep - so I vowed to return to Butik Linnea another time and make an afternoon of it. What a perfect excuse to come back. 

Fredriksdal

Located on the higher plain of Helsingborg, Fredriksdal is one of the largest open-air museums in Sweden and not to be missed! Truth be told, it was BAKING that day but we still got to experience the botanical gardens (including the magnificent rose garden), historical vegetable and herb gardens, historical buildings and the well preserved town quarter which is now a museum - all of which we loved! 

I was particularly taken by the Grafiska Museet - the largest working graphic museum in the Nordics (the shop is great too!) and the Trädgårdscafé which sells the best cakes! 

If you visit Fredriksdal, keep an eye on the daily schedules and calendar for guided walks, forest bathing and various talks. I'm looking forward to returning on a cooler day! 

Back in the centre of town, Dunkers Kulturhus features an excellent exhibitions calendar and is child friendly too! 

Dine out at Sillen & Makrillen

It’s almost impossible to dine closer to the sea than at my favourite Helsingborg restaurant Sillen & Makrillen. Located right over the water, it offers dreamy views of the Öresund strait. Tuck into a variety of seasonal dishes (I loved my white asparagus with locally foraged mushrooms) and a variety of fish dishes fresh from the sea. Yum! 

PS this place is also great in winter when the sea shows it's rough and wild side! 

Other restaurants worthy of a mention include Vass Restaurang & Bar and KOL & Cocktails

Day 2: Explore the surrounding area: 

On the second day, we decided to explore Helsingborg's surroundings - there is so much to see and do that you could spend several days taking it all in. We got around using e-bikes from the Travel Shop which are so much fun but not for the faint hearted! We were licking along, winding our way down county lanes and up steep hills without breaking into a bead of sweat and it was over 30 degrees celsius! A word of warning -  wear a helmet, take your time getting used to it and be careful in town!

Our first stop was Ödåkra Spritfabriken which is around 11km from the city centre. Built in 1897, the historical building served as a spirit distillery for a century and was recently taken over by multi-artist Andreas Wargenbrant who has transformed it into a creative space for arts, fashion, homeware and food. 

Enjoy browsing the shops (which include florist, antique and retro, clothing and homeware stores, then tuck into lunch at Italian restaurant Pappa Piada. It's famous for its piada - a thin Italian flatbread typically prepared in the Romagna region of Italy - but I have to say, the calamari was the best I've had! Afterwards, enjoy an artisanal beer at brewery Ødakra Brygghus

Wine tasting at Lottenlund Estate

Having tasted the local beer, it would have been rude not to sample the wine too. After all, did you know that Southern Sweden is pipped to gradually become a force to be reckoned with on the global wine scene? We whizzed down the country lanes to Lottenlund Estate vineyard to find out more. 

Make sure you book a tour in advance with the knowledgeable founder Tina Berthelsen. Inspired by a trip to Tuscany, Tina and her partner planted 30,000 vines in 2010, and today Lottenlund Estate produces white, rosé and red wine - all of which are available to taste. The Solaris grape is a fairly sour, so the wine is best paired with the right food - something which local chefs are extremely adept! 

Sofiero
On the way back to Helsingborg, stop in at Sofiero. The old royal summer residence features a magnificent palace and a beautiful park with views over the Öresund strait. Keep an eye out for seasonal events including light shows, Christmas markets, the rhododendron festival and summer dahlias as well as concerts and other special events. 

Wallåkra Stenkärlsfabrik
Fancy trying your hand at pottery? My daughters and I absolutely love Wallåkra Stenskärlsfabrik. Located a short 15 minute direct train ride from Helsingborg city centre, it's a perfect place to spend an afternoon. 

Book yourself in for a session on a pottery wheel and make your own creations using clay from the grounds before browsing the shop and enjoying a 'fika' (coffee and cake) in the cafe (the food in the restaurant is also excellent). Finish off by following the stream through the woods for an afternoon stroll in the steps of dinosaurs some 180 million years before!  


Phew, this guide turned out to be longer than I thought - and there's a lot to take in, I know. But I hope it will inspire you to visit Helsingborg one day! Please do share it with friends who might also feel inspired! 

If you're looking to combine Helsingborg with other places on your Scandinavian tour, it's well worth taking the 20-minute ferry-ride to Helsingør to explore the picturesque Danish town and magnificent Kronborg castle (home to Hamlet). Copenhagen and Malmö are also nearby. Four cities, two countries - one trip! 

I've tried to cover as much as possible in this guide, but there are so many other things to do in Helsingborg and the surrounding areas. If you have more tips to share - please fire away in the comment section below! 

A huge thank you to Evelina from Visit Helsingborg who shared her local knowledge with us and helped to book some of the places on our itinerary. It was a truly memorable weekend and we can't wait to come back with the girls (not least to visit 'Farmor' (Granny)!). 

Niki

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This Magical, Remote Swedish Design Hotel Is Included the Oscars 2021 Goodie Bag!

I know that I said I wasn't going to post today, but then something intriguing popped up which I had to share with you! I was fascinated to read that a Swedish lodge has been included in the Oscars 2021 goodie bag, and it's one I've known about ever since my trip to the area last summer. Located on a rocky outpost in the far reaches of the Swedish west coast archipelago, you'll find Pater Noster, the Father of lighthouses. Once home to a lighthouse keeper and his family as well as a small community, today Lightkeeper's Lodge on the small island of Hamneskär has opened its doors as a design hotel. Guests arrive by helicopter from Gothenburg or rib from nearby Marstrand. Once on the island, they are treated to beautiful, yet understated design, breath-taking nature, world-class seafood and the opportunity to relax in a hot tub or a secluded corner of the island. What a dream! Little wonder, it's been included in the Oscars 2021 goodie bag! 







Could you imagine staying here? 

Can't quite stretch to the cool 5000 SEK (€500 euros) per guest per night fee? Don't worry, speaking from personal experience, you don't need to be a superstar to enjoy these magical islands! 

I've travelled around this area by boat many times (it's one of my favourite places in the world). Here are my ten favourite islands to visit! 

The east coast is also home to some incredible islands, including the Blekinge archipelago and Gotland! Well worth a visit. 

I hope you can make your way here one day once the dust has settled! Sweden is waiting for you! 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Niki

Photography courtesy of Pater Noster Lightkeeper's Cottage - with thanks 

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Travel Diaries: Design Hotel Villa Copenhagen


Unpaid Press trip*: 
Living a short hop over the famous Öresund bridge from the Danish capital city, I'm used to day trips to Copenhagen - but staying the night is something of a major luxury! Especially when it involves a design hotel (you know me!). Housed in the century-old former Danish post and telegraph office, the magnificent Villa Copenhagen is a short hop from the central station - making it easily accessible from the airport - and wait for it, Malmö! Hooray! When Per and I were invited to visit on a press trip a while back, we had grand plans for the weekend, but once inside the lobby, these quickly fell by the wayside in favour of seem R&R. Think incredible architecture, drool worthy interior design and a rooftop lap pool (warmed with the excess heat from the hotel's cooling system). Read on to discover more about our stay at Denmark's latest 'conscious luxury' design hotel - maybe you'll be the next to visit?

Step inside the hotel and the frenetic sounds of the city fall away as you're transported into another world. Designed by Danish archive Eva Harlou, the former courtyard, has been transformed into a lobby under a magnificent glass dome, and serves as a reception (although there is also an option to check-in remotely which comes in handy in the current climate) and a gathering place for tourists and Danes alike. A perfect setting from which to start my stay - and await Per with a glass of Prosecco!

Unless travelling alone, I'm a little sceptical about eating in hotel restaurants - mainly because I feel I should be out discovering one of the city's many haunts. But KONTRAST, the in-house brasserie has a street entrance, giving the feel of an independent restaurant. Plus, executive chef Tore Gustafsson and his team have pulled out all the stops. The dishes take inspiration from the southern gastronomic world of Europe and North Africa and made using local ingredients (including some from the hotel's own hidden garden). True to Danish stye, the presentation, explosion of flavours and wine selection of our taster menu were absolutely impeccable - as was the 'masked' service! 

It also helped that the setting was beautiful too - combining the historic decadence of the building with the rawness of nearby neighbourhood of Vesterbro.

The interior design has been a strong talking-point since the hotel opened on 1st July, 2020 - not least because of the fabulous and sustainable Earth Suite - so I was falling over myself to get to our room (nothing to do with the Prosecco, I promise!). 

The hotel had appointed several design and architecture firms to ensure that the interior design matched the magnificent grandeur of the Neo-baroque facade. With 390 rooms to decorate, I can imagine this was no easy feat, but it quickly became clear to me, they had achieved that and more!  

With views out over Tivoli Gardens, we may have been in the heart of a vibrant city, but our room was a picture of calm and serenity - and somewhere I could imagine actually living! It was beautiful. 


The rooms are blessed with high ceilings, herringbone floors and a calming muted colour scheme. Danish decadence at its finest! 


For the design, interior design firm Universal Design Studio took inspiration from grand Copenhagen residences and the work of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi to create spaces that combine the past and the present. Natural materials, custom-designed furniture, smooth marble surfaces and touches of brass help to bring the rooms to life - and sent my design heart a flutter! 


After a trip to the hotel lap pool and a stint in the sauna, we returned to the room to find the bathroom stocked with hand soap, hand moisturiser and shampoo and conditioner from the SKOG - calm of the boreal forest - collection by Skandinavisk. Per was especially happy - it's been his favourite ever since our weekend at a friend's cabin in the woods. And he's not even the preening type! 


We woke up - incredibly well rested - to a sunny Autumn morning in Copenhagen and after enjoying the hotel breakfast (who doesn't love an omelette bar and a strong danish coffee? - But if a buffet breakfast isn't your thing, I noticed the hotel also has a wonderful in-house bakery) we headed out for a wander through the streets of the Danish capital before making our way back to Malmö by train. 


All-in-all, a heavenly stay in Copenhagen! 

If you could also use a little 'conscious luxury' and like the idea of surrounding yourself with fabulous Danish design - Villa Copenhagen is waiting for you! 

Definitely one for the travel files, for when we're free to roam again. 

Oh, and if you feel like splashing out, everyone is talking about the Suites. Next time, perhaps! 

Niki

All photographs by me except the first one which is by Stine Christiansen

*Disclosure: Villa Copenhagen covered our hotel expenses as part of a press trip, however I was not paid to write this piece and was under no obligation to feature the hotel on any of my channels. As always, I only ever write about interiors I love and think you will too. 

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