24-hour room service: Marstrands Havshotell, Sweden

Relationship experts often suggest that you should go on at least two dates with a would-be suitor (psychopaths aside) before dismissing them altogether. Perhaps the same is true of hotels. Plenty charm guests into falling in love with them at first sight, others quite clearly have the appeal of Freddy Kruger, but occasionally you come across a hotel that deserves a second chance. Such is the case with Marstrands Havshotell, which opened in January on the island of Koon, in western Sweden.

Part shiny new youth hostel, part yachtie hangout, it looks more like a ferry terminal than a hostelry from the entrance. The minimalist reception is not so much Scandinavian cool as just plain chilly – a collection of white chairs here, grey floor there and a long, shiny bar that operates both as check-in and saloon. And, while the staff are friendly, on my visit the service was far from perfect; emails went unanswered and the reception desk was understaffed.

The hotel's website displays images of dreamy seaside holidays from yesteryear: photographs of ladders disappearing into the sea, toes crunching into seaweed and sweet little clapboard houses perched on a stony promontory are set against a soothing dove-grey background. Much is made of "breezes across your pillow" and "winding down with water and warmth". It all conveys the idea of a peaceful, homely seaside guesthouse, rather than a hangar-like new-build beside a large car park, on a shoreline limb.

All of which creates a similar effect to going on a blind date and discovering that your companion is 10 years older and several pounds heavier than had been expecting.

But resist the urge to shuffle back through the hotel's revolving door. When the sun breaks through the clouds, the huge waterside terrace has the potential to come alive, particularly when the surrounding harbour is packed with visiting yachts. And, while the hotel's restaurant, with its lost-in-translation name of Otto's Kok, is undeniably expensive (129Skr/£12.50 for a small bowl of nettle soup, 206Skr/£19.50 for a warm vegetable salad), the food is very good and the restaurant's philosophy sound: seasonal, locally sourced, modern Swedish cuisine.

Fresh flowers, chairs that nod to mid-century Danish inspiration, butter served on a little shell, and rope looped around napkins are reminders that Otto cares about the details.

LOCATION

One compelling reason to check in to Marstrands Havshotell is because it's set right by the ferry service to Marstrand island (you can buy a return ticket for 20Skr/£1.90, at reception). Every 15 minutes or so, boats make the five-minute journey to one of the prettiest towns on Sweden's west coast: a collection of pastel-painted wooden houses, New England-style interiors shops, sailing outfitters, cafés, bars and leafy squares. Dominating all is a hilltop fort, Carlsten (visible over the water from a few of the hotel's rooms).

The island town was founded by the Norwegians in the 13th century (the locals are said to have grown rich on herring after the king sought special permission from the Pope to allow them to fish on saints' days), but the signing of the Roskilde Peace Treaty in 1658 transferred it into Swedish hands. Two hundred or so years later, the fort that King Carl X duly commissioned was completed. Today, tourists are its only invaders. Marstrand is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Gothenburg region (it's only 45km or so from the city) and has been since society bathers started making a beeline for it in the 19th century.

For those who prefer hiking to history, there are good walks to be had back on the mainland, as well as sailing, diving, kayaking and wildlife-watching trips.

COMFORT

The hotel's 98 rooms are rather corporate in style, though rendered in a tasteful, Scandinavian fashion. In a nod to the maritime location, the colour schemes are either blue and white or green and white, and the cosy woollen rugs wouldn't look out of place on a yacht. Bathrooms are kept simple and white. Some rooms come with baths as well as showers, and some have a view of the adjacent harbour, or the fort on Marstrand island. There is also one top-end suite, a frenzy of white leather with shiny black tiles in the bathroom.

Though the comfort rating is high, with great beds, powerful showers and free Wi-Fi, the frills are minimal. When I visited there were no minibars, no kettles or any official form of room service and no in-room information. However, the hotel has since introduced room service to guests who request it.

So it's a surprise to find a veritable temple to indulgence down in the basement (let's skip over the distinctly odd "greenhouse" guest lounge that's been stuffed with plants and iron furniture and planted at the top of the building). In this comprehensive modern spa with driftwood, rope and other nautical design details, you will find an indoor pool, indoor hot tubs, outdoor hot tubs and various saunas and steam rooms. And, with locally inspired spa treatments such as seaweed baths and soaks in salty hot tubs on offer, this is the one feature of the hotel that might attract more than just the conference crowd – or indeed island-hoppers.

Appearances can sometimes be deceptive.

Marstrands Havshotell, Varvskajen 2, Koon Island, Marstrand, Sweden (00 46 303 240 200;marstrandshavshotell.se).

Rooms 3 stars
Value 3 stars
Service 2 stars

Double rooms start at SKr1,895 (£180) per night, room only

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape