Stay The Night: Treehotel, Swedish Lapland

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Sweden is home to a fantastical hotel experiment that will wow architecture fans but not comfort seekers, says Sarah Barrell

Like many good stories, this one began around a campfire.

In 2008, travel guide Kent Lindvall hosted one of his far-flung fishing trips to a remote part of Russia's Kamchatka region. Here he got talking to his guests, Swedish architects, about the inspirational film Tradelskaren (The Tree Lover), where three urbanites rediscover their rural roots by building a house together in the woods.

Back home in the Lapland forest, some 40 miles from the Arctic Circle, not far from where the film was set, Kent and his wife Britta decided to buy land behind their 1950s-style guesthouse, which had been earmarked for logging. Two years and a lot of technical drawings later, the Treehotel opened, not tree houses in any traditional sense but a futuristic, fantastical, architectural experiment.

The hotel opened with four "cabins" set about 50m apart, on the hillside behind Britta's inn. Each is uniquely designed by a celebrated Swedish architect: a magical red "Cone" appears to glow amid the foliage; the "Mirrorcube", a reflective glass structure vanishes from view completely with subtle changes in sunlight; and the "Bird's Nest" constructed exactly as the names suggests, is a woven sphere of branches and twigs. I stayed in the "Cabin", created by interior design wunderkind Marten Cyren, which juts out seemingly unsupported over the hillside, the bed positioned square in front of a picture window to give uninterrupted bird's-eye views of the forest and Lulea Valley beyond.

The latest addition, which opened this spring, is the "UFO", a completely circular cabin that appears to be hovering in the trees: a flying saucer that sleeps four. There are plans for up to 20 tree houses on the site, and Britta and Kent have lately thrown down the design gauntlet to international architects. The next fantasy tree pod will come from Finnish architect Sami Rintala; a long, horizontal beam-like wooden structure, balanced across six pine trees. And watch this space for a creation from German artist Carsten Holler, best known for turning the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall into a sculptural kid's playground with his 2006 exhibit Test Site.

The rooms

There are currently six tree houses, each sleeping two to six people. Despite the high-design, the modern interiors and, quite frankly, the cost of staying here, these are not really luxury cabins. Sure, there is underfloor heating and artful fixtures and fittings, but an eco-conscious ethic underpins all the designs, so the loos are slightly tricky and showers have to be taken back down at Britta's guesthouse or in the sauna. (See The extras, below.) Some guests love this "camping" atmosphere – especially supplemented by Britta's excellent home cooking and mumsy charm – but others find the necessity of stepping back into the 1950s-style guesthouse for meals and ablutions breaks the tree houses' surreal spell.

The food and drink

Britta's home-cooked "moose balls" (huge reindeer meat balls) were a hit with my daughter and me. Dinners are hearty and drawn from local ingredients, such as smoked elk with lingonberry sauce. Main courses average around SKr250 (£25). Breakfasts (included in the room costs) are exemplary Scandinavian feasts with cloudberry jams, frothy hot chocolate and myriad herring on wagon wheel-sized rye crackers.

The extras

Set in the forest, between the tree houses, is a circular "tree sauna" complete with wraparound balcony and showers. Kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and fishing are just some of the ways to occupy yourself during the 24 hours of daylight in midsummer; in winter this Northern Lights-illuminated Lapland forest setting is absolutely magical, with husky dog safaris, snow shoeing, skiing and ice fishing excursions all bookable from the hotel. The gloriously named village of Jokkmokk (pronounced yokmok), a centre for Sami culture and crafts, is an hour's drive away.

The access

Most of the tree houses are designed for families/groups, but the steep ladder access on some cabins makes it difficult, if not dangerous, for very young children. Although some cabins have wide gangplank access, the hillside setting would make using a wheelchair hard.

The bill

Tree houses cost from Skr3,500 (£346) to SKr4,200 (£415) per night, based on two sharing, including breakfast. Double rooms at Britta's guesthouse cost Skr400 (£40) and tours of the tree houses can be arranged. The hotel is about an hour's drive from Lulea's international airport, with new direct connections to the UK with SAS (0871 226 7760; flysas.com) from £299 return.

The address

Treehotel, Edeforsväg 2 A, S-960 24 Harads, Sweden (00 46 928 104 03; treehotel.se).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
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
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week