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Kolarbyn, Sweden’s Unique Destination Spa

Unlike plush destination spas, the beds are hard platforms covered with sheepskin covers, and guests have to chop wood to stoke the floating sauna.

Reservations are now being taken for the Nordic summer season at Kolarbyn. Located two hours from Stockholm on the banks of beautiful Lake Skärsjön, the Kolarbyn is a true getaway for spa and nature enthusiasts looking for a rustic adventure.

Undoubtedly Sweden’s most primitive hotel, the Kolarbyn is an eco-lodge with a main lodge and 12 cozy, bare bones huts nestled in the surrounding forest. Guests report that the setting is so natural that it seems part of the forest. A true eco-retreat, all the materials are natural and they’re reduced, recycled and reused. In addition, the facility is owned and run by local residents.

What to Expect When Visiting Kolarbyn

While going without Wi-Fi make seem rustic to some people, the Kolarbyn’s grass covered huts, which can accommodate families, lack true basics such as electricity and hot water. If you don’t mind chopping your own wood, a wood-burning fireplace provides heat for chilly Nordic nights, and soft candles provide light. The bathroom is steps from the front door although it’s in the form of a freestanding outhouse.

For bathing, there’s a nearby stream that’s clear and cool. The sauna is the one traditional spa therapy although it lacks infrared rays or colored lights. According to the official Kolarbyn website, relaxing in the sauna is an adventure in itself since the sauna is situated in the middle of the lake. Scandinavia’s midnight sun provides the perfect background lighting for paddling the lodge’s rowboat to the sauna. Here, guests need to chop wood to heat the sauna before they can luxuriate to their heart’s content. Outings are another important feature and include moose tracking expeditions and journeys to hear the wolves howl. Night owls can also sign up for nocturnal outings that showcase beavers toiling under the midnight sun.

In its first seven years, the Kolarbyn has hosted guests from more than 60 different countries. The appeal is the Walden-like atmosphere, the abundance of wildlife, and the simplistic communion with nature. Guests comment that this natural way of life satisfies spiritual and physical cravings they never realized they had. There’s a certain satisfaction in taking care of one’s own needs naturally.

Kolarbyn’s Approach to Exercise and Dining

 At the Kolarbyn, exercise is a way of life rather than a classroom training session or a task to be endured. Chopping wood, hauling your own water from a natural spring, trekking through the forest, horseback riding, and boat rowing are just some of the ways that guests burn calories. Hikes to the nearby Malingsbo-klotens Nature Reserve are another common activity.

The local produce, provided by a nearby farm, is simple and nutritious and guests have the opportunity to cook their own meals in the lodge’s outdoor kitchen. Imagine grilling the fish you caught right before dinner. Guests rate the meals as excellent.

Other activities at the retreat center are also less structured and more holistic. For instance, instead of taking formal meditation classes, guests have the opportunity to meditate in a natural peaceful setting.

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