In Arctic waters
Following up on their spectacular tree hotel, Swedish cabin hoteliers Kent and Britta Lindval have landed a new project. Well, not quite “landed” – the Arctic Bath is actually floating in the icy waters of the River Lule.
The impressive façade of the round bath house is a visual throwback to a time when metre-high logjams would form in the rapids. In a way, the newly opened Arctic Bath spa hotel is paying tribute to the raftsmen of old. And remembering what was then the main means of transport from the Scandinavian mountains to the Baltic Sea. Even though the golden age of timber floating is over, the Lule is still the most profitable river in Sweden. These days, the river plays host to a floating spa and some of the boutique huts. The only connection with the mainland is via a wooden walkway.
Nordic tradition revived
“We are very proud to be able to continue this tradition and to remind visitors and locals alike how important water and wood once were for our region and for the country as a whole” – this is how the designers explain their “modern reference to this Nordic tradition”. The original idea for a floating sauna on the river came to one of the residents of the village of Harads when the spectacular Tree Hotel was opened there in 2010. He envisaged a glass cube on a raft, based on the avant-garde tree houses of the recently opened hotel.
We are very proud to be able to remind visitors and locals alike how important water and wood once were for our region and for the country as a whole.
Architect Team, Arctic Bath
Finally, the team of architects led by Bertil Hagström (designer of the Bird’s Nest treehouse suite), Johan Kauppi and Annkathrin Lundqvist set to work on the circular floating spa and the designer cabins surrounding it. The plans have been finalized since 2013; seven years later the new hotel project was finally opened by Kent and Britta Lindval.
Northern lights and cabin porn
Despite the harsh climate, design hotels in the Arctic wilderness are all the rage at the moment. With metre-high snow and temperatures regularly falling below -15 degrees Celsius, tourists used to give this part of the world a comfortably wide berth. These days, however, winter in Swedish Lapland is turning into peak season. Northern lights spotting, ice fishing, husky tours and Scandinavian simplicity in unspoilt nature are offshoots of the internet-driven cabin porn hype. Like no other region, the Arctic North positively exudes “hygge”.
Even though you go to sleep within your own four walls at night, the surrounding landscape has been integrated into the design of our huts and suites.
Hotel description, Arctic Bath
Another selling point is that guests at the new hotel on the banks of the Lule leave just a minimal footprint. Only natural and sustainable materials such as wood, stone, leather and high-quality textiles were used to construct it. The new river hotel has 12 rooms in total. On land, there are loft-like huts in suite format. With living space of 62 m², they can accommodate up to 5 guests. Like the spa, the double-room cabins float on the river, which is covered in ice in the winter.
Thanks to the large windows, the spectacular landscape becomes part of the interior concept for the rooms. Or as the hotel puts it: “Even though you go to sleep within your own four walls at night, the surrounding landscape has been integrated into the design of our huts and suites.”
One particular highlight is the Arctic Bath restaurant, which is renowned for its very authentic Sámi cuisine. Kristoffer Åström, who has already made a name for himself in Sweden as the “Sámi Chef”, serves up culinary delights together with Belgian colleague Maarten De Wilde. In addition to signature dishes such as gompa – a staple Sámi dish made with Arctic angelica and sour milk – the menu includes game, fish, lamb and beef. All ingredients come from neighbouring Lapland, and all fish and animals have been hunted or caught in the wild. It doesn’t get any more “off-grid” than this.
Text: Gertraud Gerst
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Photos: Arctic Bath, Daniel Holmgren, Johan Jansson, Anders Blomqvist