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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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Travel Diaries: Ästad Vingård, a Swedish Vineyard and Spa


Here's one for the Scandi travel files. Ästad Vingård. An ecological vineyard and spa in Halland county, Southern Sweden. Per and I were invited on an overnight press trip a while back and we're still feeling relaxed! If you love rolling hills, wine tasting, good in-season food and a whole load of pampering, this is your place! Read on to find out more about our stay - I hope it will inspire you to visit one day when we're all free to roam once again. 

We pulled up to find Ästad Vingård nestled between the gently undulating slopes of the Åkulla nature reserve, surrounded by lakes and beech forests, The rural farm is surprisingly extensive and made up of a cluster of smaller timber cottages, as well as larger dwellings that house the winery, restaurants and accommodation - against a backdrop of over 22,000 vines. 

Once checked in, we ambled through the vines, sampling the organic Solaris - a green grape that flourishes in a Northern climate - as we went. Ästad Vingård also offers daily wine tours which take you on a tour of the cellars and winery as through through the vineyard - something for next time! 

Our walk was followed by an organised wine-tasting with a knowledgeable Ästad Vingård sommelier, who talked us through their very own ecological crisp white wine. A relatively young winery, Ästad Vingård only harvests a limited number of bottles each year, which they then use in their restaurants. Even if they had bottles to sell, Sweden's strict alcohol laws mean we'd have needed to go to the state-owned monopoly to buy it. I'm super curious to know if this will change since Southern Sweden is becoming something of a wine hotspot and hailed as an up and coming wine region in the sommelier world! Who would have thought it? 

Ästad Vingård mainly produces sparkling wine but in a good year, they also produce wonderful crisp dry white wine - and we were fortunate enough to tuck into a bottle of Solaris 2018!  


Having relaxed over a glass or two (ahem), Per and I changed into our designated robes and slippers and headed off to sample the Sinnenas Spa

Meaning 'spa of the senses', Sinnenas Spa' is made up of a series of indoor and outdoor areas, inviting you to relax in a myriad of saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, heated pools and hammocks. If you're brave enough, there's even a fresh-water lake for cooling off.  Word of warning: fellow spa-goers can see you from the underwater sauna, so make sure you've tightened your trunks before you dive in! 


You could spend several days floating in the wonderful indoor and outdoor pool - or even just sitting on a hammock or lounger looking out over the nature reserve! 

Ästad Vingård offer day trips for the tours and spa, however, if you really want to go all in, there are a large number of lodgings available - from luxury suites with a private spa, to cosy timber cottages with a turf roof.


As someone who has a bit of a thing for interiors, I was excited to find our room had been decorated with natural materials throughout  - from raw wood and leather to stone and iron. 

Another lovely touch: the mini bar had been kitted out with locally produced items such as gin from the Swedish island of Ven, Gårdschips (farm crisps) from Halland and Malmö chocolate! Yum!

The room was super smart too: at the flick of a switch, we could open and close the curtains, play music, control all the lights and probably a load of other things which are far beyond my (limited) technical skill. 

I've been wondering how to install electric curtains in my bedroom ever since - preferably with a timer set for lengthy lie-ins! Wouldn't that be wonderful? 

Perhaps best of all - our bathroom had an incredible stone bath and a little private sauna - just to ensure we felt truly relaxed. Pure bliss! 


In the evening, we headed to the in-house Restaurant Logen for a four course Swedish farmer's menu. Visitors also have the option to reserve a table at Restaurant Äng where the head chef Filip Gemzell prides himself on serving incredible dishes inspired by the local Halland nature and traditional Scandinavian fare - made with ingredients from the nearby forest, meadows and fields. 

Next time! 


All in all - a wonderful stay - and one for the travel files if you'd like too pamper yourself and sample some local organic Swedish wine the next time you're in Sweden!

I'd suggest going mid-week so you can enjoy the tranquil surrounding and spa a little more to yourself (it's a fairly big centre and can get pretty busy at the weekend). Oh, and pack your hiking boots if you'd like to wander through the nature reserve! 

More info about booking a stay can be found here

Skål to the upcoming Swedish wine industry and a huge thank you to Ästad Vingård for the press trip. We'll be back!

Niki

Photography: 1,2 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15 Kristian Sahlberg. The rest: Niki Brantmark. 

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A Magical Journey That Inspired A New Scent


Collaboration: 
You might recall back in Spring 2019 I ventured to the Hardangerfjord in western Norway as part of a Skandinavisk scent discovery tour. It was magical. I had no idea the fruit trail existed, let alone how staggeringly beautiful it is! My days were spent with Skandinavisk's founder, Shaun Russell and perfumer, Stéphane Coez strolling through the incredible orchard-lined fruit trail taking in the light scents of apple, pear, plum and cherry blossom. Above us the silence of the forest was occasionally interrupted by the thunderous sound of water cascading from the Hardangervidda plateau to the glistening fjord below. 

Since the trip, the guys at Skandinavisk have been quietly developing their first fragrances for the skin, culminating in the very exciting Kapitel (meaning 'chapter') collection. Each of the three Eau de Toilette, Kapitel 4, 12 and 17 reinterpret adventures precious to life in Scandinavia including Island Solitude and Freedom to Roam. Imagine my excitement when I discovered the third, Kapitel 17 -  Remote refrain - was inspired by our trip to the Hardangerfjord! Read on to discover more! 


If you've been to Norway, you'll know that one of the mesmerising things about the country is how quickly the weather changes. One moment you're scrambling to put your anorak on as bruised clouds cast a threatening shadow over the landscape, the next you're down to a t-shirt as the sun pierces through the clouds and turns the fjords a deep emerald green. I took the image above on our final day, when mist clung to the valleys and a light rain pattered on the surface of the fjord. It was hauntingly beautiful.  

It seems, Shaun and Stéphane were equally mesmerised by our scent discovery trip, encapsulating the wonderful aromas that carried in the breeze in Kapitel 17, an Eau de Toilette which perfectly captures our journey through the orchard-lined fruit trail. 


'Remote refrain' is a "...sonnet to fresh pear, its delicate white flowers and the subtle honey scent of their pollen, carefully wrapped inside the sensory amphitheatre of fjord land and accented by the watery reverb of its surrounding waterfalls."

Needless to say, I was thrilled when it arrived in the post! 


The beautiful, light scent is insane - and takes me straight back to the Hardangerfjord!


The Kapitel Collection is also made up of two other Eau de Toilettes. Kapitel 4 - 'Island Solitude' is a "memoir of gliding through the shallows, bow gently coming to rest on the pebbly shore, the slippery touch of damp rock moss underfoot, and the fragrant green embrace of gnarled crabapple and dog rose."

Kapital 12 is "a chronicle of journeys to the highlands and wilderness along the remote northerly borders, foraging for herbs and berries, and hiking heather-lined trails above the tree line with only the stars for company."


Excitingly, the Kapitel Eau de Toilette collection launched yesterday, 1st October, and is exclusively available at Skandinavisk's concept store in Selfridges on Oxford Street, London or online here during the month of October. Plus, a little birdie tells me for this month only, Skandinavisk are offering free shipping within Europe for every 50ml Eau de Toilette ordered via Skandinavisk. If you're located in the US,  the Eau de Toilettes will land in US online store in a couple of weeks and you'll also benefit from free shipping! Nice! 

Oh, how I miss Norway and it's awe-inspiring nature. Until we're free to roam once again, I'll allow this fragrance to take me back. If you're also dreaming about a journey to Scandinavia, perhaps one of these Eau de Toilettes might just transport you there (or back) without leaving home. 

And if you do venture to the Hardangerfjord - remember to expect four seasons in one day! 

Niki

*This post was brought to you in association with Skandinavisk. I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the brands that ensure I can bring fresh and inspiring content to your mailbox each day! 

Photography: Niki Brantmark / My Scandinavian Home (except picture 1. Cassie Evans and final picture Skandinavisk).  

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