For most Americans, a visit to Sweden = a visit to Stockholm. It may be time to add another city to that equation: Gothenburg
in Swedish). Ever since Ryan Air started flying to Gothenburg just about eight years ago, this smallish city has developed an alternative-indie vibe, fueled by a large student population, emerging creative chefs and a lively music scene.
Gothenburg was also the port city that many Swedes departed from when they left for the United States, but if you're reversing this mission, you needn't worry that breaking new ground as a U.S. traveler will mean you'll need to rough it at night, whether you're choosing to stay in town or head out a bit to explore the coast line.
In the city center, stay at Avalon
. Look up when you arrive so you catch the flash of blue that is the rooftop swimming pool. (Hopefully no one's in it, as this isn't the most flattering view of most bodies.) This design-conscious hotel is built around the principles of feng shui, which means that you'll find fountains, wind chimes, and rounded edges inside -- the right angles between the carpet and the wall in the hallway, for instance, are lined with what looks like koosh-ball pelt. I'm not sure if my chi
was improved by spending the night there, but I certainly had a good night's sleep.
Outside the city, it's worth making the 90 minute excursion to Salt & Sill
on the island of Klädesholmen. This town has seen its fortunes rise and fall with the herring trade (sill
is herring in Swedish) and the hotel's 23 rooms are literally built on the tides. You cross a small bridge to reach the rooms, which are built on pontoons. When it's calm outside, the structure feels no different from one that's built on solid ground, but on the day I visited, it was a bit stormy. I'd actually forgotten that the hotel was floating on the water, and when the room started gently rocking, I almost called for a doctor.
The rooms here are cleverly and economically designed -- in fact, rather like you're staying on a very nice boat. The rooms are a seaworthy palette of grays and whites, with typically Scandinavian shots of color in the bedding and the artwork, and creative uses of sea-weathered wood and bright tile. I particularly liked the pre-programmed custom lighting schemes, which at the press of a button gives you bright light for packing, task lights for reading, or soft, ambience which highlight the art and leaves the rest of the room in soft shadows. There's also a seriously cool floating sauna on the property.