A Scandi romance

Issue 1 · Winter 2015

When Guy Walters booked a romantic getaway for him and his wife, he couldn’t know he would have to go on his own and try not to enjoy himself too much...

Issue 1 · Winter 2015

When Guy Walters booked a romantic getaway for him and his wife, he couldn’t know he would have to go on his own and try not to enjoy himself too much...

Guy Walters did his best to have no fun at all

The Treehotel

After 13 years of marriage, I feel lucky. I can look at my wife, Annabel, and our two children, and reflect that I have everything a man in his forties could wish for. Like all couples, we have disagreements. Normally, any rancour is lanced by a few days away à deux, in which we... well, I don’t need to tell you. However, for us, the magical Weekend Away – an event that is supposed to bring harmony – instead, in its planning, brings discord.

Why? It’s because we can never agree on where to go. Annabel, brought up in the tropics, requires regular doses of sunshine. It is mandatory for her that all travel should be in a southerly direction. Meanwhile I, with my Germanic blood, yearn to fly to lands which are cool in both senses of the word.

Things had got to such an impasse, that Annabel maintained that I needed some hearty deputy-Frau with whom I could explore the frozen wastes, while she lounged by a pool in Morocco with somebody who I trusted would look nothing like David Beckham. And then, finally, we had a breakthrough. What if we went to Sweden, but did it in a really classy and romantic way? Eyebrows went skyward.

Annabel and I are middle class and middle aged. That means we watch Nordic Noir, like The Killing, The Bridge, Wallander. For her, Scandinavia means murdered women and sinister men.

"Island life suited me: a morning spent swimming off a yacht, followed by a sauna in a floating cabin"

I persisted. I explained that Sweden was chic, stylish, romantic and fun. We could hang out somewhere townhousey in Stockholm, fly up to Lapland to stay in a hotel that was built in the trees, and then head back down to an island in the Stockholm Archipelago to spend a couple of nights in a luxurious tented camp.

The eyebrows went down. Annabel may like warmth, but this appealed to her sense of adventure. She nodded, uncertainly. Victory was mine. We were on our way.

And then, just a day before we were due to go, disaster struck. Slapped cheek syndrome. No, not mine for pushing the northern climes itinerary too hard – our nine-year-old daughter had come down with a nasty viral infection. It was severe enough to mean that it wasn’t fair to anyone to leave Granny in charge. What to do? Both of us not go and waste a whole trip? One of us stay home?

Annabel is nicer than I am, and so she decided that she would stay. The trip could be undertaken as a kind of recce for the perfect break. I would, in fact, be having a romantic holiday all by myself. And what a guilt-inducing reconnaissance it was.

As soon as I stepped into Ett Hem for an early evening drink, I knew that Annabel would have committed a Nordic Noir murder to have stayed in this central Stockholm townhouse. With its seemingly uncoordinated jumble of expensive furnishings and decoration, Ett Hem – which means ‘A Home’ – looked like how we think our home should look, but doesn’t. And because you can go just about anywhere – including the kitchen – Ett Hem doesn’t feel like a hotel at all.

Next stop was the Nobis Hotel, where I was staying the night – an essay in Scandi minimalism. My spousal cravings strengthened yet more when I arrived at the Treehotel in Lapland. The Treehotel consists of six treehouses suspended some 30 feet into the air. With each treehouse designed by a different architect, the hotel resembles more a huge modern art installation rather than a place to stay. It doesn’t get more Scandi-chic than this.

Because I was solo, I opted for the somewhat boyish UFO, which looks like a flying saucer. When the retracting ladder is pulled down, you really do think you are about to be abducted by aliens. The interior completes this theme, with its three beds covered in constellation eiderdowns.

If I were with Annabel, however, I suspect we would have opted for the Mirrorcube, which is practically invisible on the outside. The interior is certainly romantic, with soothingly cream wooden walls, and a view over the forest and the hills beyond that could send you into a trance. But the Treehotel isn’t just about lounging about in the treetops. You can zip through the canopy as well, 50 feet up, thereby enabling you to take an aerial – and somewhat hairy – tour of the estate.

My final stop on this solo recce of love was at another extraordinary place called Island Lodge, which lies on the small island of Bergholmen, some 15 kilometres from central Stockholm. Dotted among the trees and perched near the water are seven large rigid tents, each with cosy double beds and wood-burning stoves. It’s a place that takes glamping to new levels. Island life certainly suited me. A morning spent swimming off a yacht, a postprandial bumble around spotting woodpeckers, followed by a sauna in a floating cabin, topped off by a sensational feast of reindeer fillet and crayfish – even Annabel would have to admit that this was far more fun and romantic than sweating on a sun lounger.

As I lay in my firelit bed, looking at the moonlight over the still water, I deliberated whether I should call her. The last thing your wife wants to hear is that her husband is having a great time while she is charging up and downstairs with the Calpol. But I couldn’t resist it. I wanted to tell her that we had to come here for our 14th anniversary. It was unfair that I had enjoyed all this on my own. And there was something else. I’d fallen for a Swedish beauty. A puppy I christened Garbo. As I type I’m plotting her arrival onto British soil. A little bit of Sweden just for Annabel.

Scott Dunn offers luxury tailor-made trips to Sweden in the summer and winter from £1,950 per person for five nights.
Images: Lena Granefelt, Corbis, Gallery Stock

The puppies Guy fell for    




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