The Mirrorcube | Harads, Sweden
Sweden has its own modern means of being absorbed into the wilderness. In the far north of the country, near the small village of Harads, suspended among the trees, is The Mirrorcube. This alien object is striking, but does not feel out of place among the trees. The box, clad in mirrored glass, reflects its surroundings, creating a camouflaged encampment. Concealed perhaps a little too well, the mega-modern treehouse has a transparent ultraviolet layer laminated onto its outer shell so birds can spot it and avoid a collision. Space inside is abundant for the two people it holds. The cube contains a double bed, small bathroom, living room and a roof terrace. A 12-metre long rope bridge grants access to this surreal abode. Britta’s Pensionat – where guests check in – serves exquisite food throughout the day. There is even a restaurant, bar, sauna and relaxation area on the site. The Mirrorcube is one of several uniquely designed spaces to try at the Treehotel.
The Bird’s Nest and UFO are two other peculiar yet beautiful rooms available. Price per night: 4400 SEK ($665). More information here.
Juvet, Valldal | Norway
A little closer to the ground, the Juvet landscape hotel surrounds you in Norwegian wilderness. Juvet is not just a striking slice of modern architecture, it’s an experience – and one that owner and designer Knut Bry is more than happy to explain. Nature flows in through the enormous panoramic windows of the contemporary cabin; minimalist rooms offer a quiet sanctuary from which to take in the landscape. The clear Valldøla River winds its way around the site, which sits among moss-covered rocks and tall evergreens. Juvet fully immerses its occupants in nature. Few places can offer such stunning views of waterfalls, mountains and vast valleys all from the comfort of a hotel bedroom. Food is provided in the main building – a converted farmhouse – and is a communal affair. Expect a superb selection of local meats and fresh fish. Facilities at Juvet include a spa, with sauna, steam room and treatment tables, to help unwind after days spent trekking the surrounding terrain. Knut will be on hand to give directions to the best local trails. Geiranger and Trollstigen are close by if the urge to venture a little further afield takes hold. It is a simple retreat; there are no distractions, just beautiful Norwegian scenery. Juvet offers a real brush with nature.
Price for a double room with breakfast: 1,450 NOK ($235) per person, first night and following nights 1,250 NOK ($202) per person. More information here.
Tree Top Hut | Brumunddal, Norway
Twenty-five feet above the forest floor, suspended high in the tree line, sits the amazing Tree Top Huts. Three unique cabins (Larch, Spruce and Pine) located in the picturesque woodlands of Ringsaker, north of the nation’s capital. Each comfortably houses six to eight people – perfect for a family wanting to spend the holidays cuddled around a log fire, or couples looking for a romantic hideaway from the rest of the world. Deep in the Norwegian wilderness the huts allow the mind to escape from the urban sprawl. Larch cabin, the biggest of the three, boasts a huge porch spanning out above the forest floor and overlooking a tranquil lake teaming with trout. Spruce cabin provides stunning views of its own, the wetlands beneath it housing an abundance of wildlife. All the cabins are surrounded by a vast variety of flora and fauna. The local woodpecker checks in with guests several times a day and elk can be seen grazing in the distance. A host of nature’s bounty can be viewed from the cabins, but if you feel the call of the wild you can explore the backwoods via the great network of skiing tracks and cycling roads located only a short distance from the retreat. Each cabin contains a separate bedroom with a double bed, plus sleeping racks with two further double beds in the main living quarters. All three huts are fully insulated, ensuring no warmth escapes, and are equipped with a gas oven, fridge, sink and bathroom – all the essential comforts of home. Directly under the cabin is a large shed with an ample supply of firewood to keep the flames burning throughout the night.
Price per night: 990 NOK ($160). More information here.
The Vulkana | Tromsø, Norway
Sailing the Norwegian fjords in a 1950s vintage fishing vessel, redesigned to accommodate a Turkish hamam, sauna and wood-fire hot tub, sounds like a dream. But aboard the Vulkana it seems that dreams have come true. Designed by Finnish architect Sami Rintala, the Vulkana is a stripped-down wooden boat, once used to catch herring and cod from the Arctic Ocean. However, instead of the hull smelling of a fishy harvest, it is now ready to accommodate up to 12 passengers for a stylish tour of the Arctic Circle. When the boat is not at sea, it is moored in the city of Tromsø, known as the ‘capital of the Arctic’ – the perfect home for this vessel. The Vulkana offers short trips to the snow-covered Lyngen Alps or the fecund fishing banks off Senja Island. In the aft of the vessel, below deck, lie three cabins with double beds. In the bow there is a traditional cabin with four more beds and at the stern, seven metres above the ocean’s surface, a diving tower dares guests to take a plunge. Just below the diving board sits the saltwater hot tub, the perfect spot from which to admire the midnight sun as it fills the sky. The wood-fire sauna provides warmth, while offering panoramic views of the scenery. Then to cool off, a Turkish bath filled with either sea or fresh water. Meals are prepared in the ship’s kitchen, complete with a renowned sushi chef on hand to cook the catch of the day. The boat’s library permits some late-night reading as the northern lights pass overhead.
Price ranges from 490-2,790 NOK ($80-$455) per person. More information here.
Sala Silvermine | Västmanland, Sweden (The world’s deepest hotel)
Travelling a little deeper, this time underground rather than under the water, is the Sala Silvermine suite – the world’s deepest hotel. The suite is located in the depths of the earth, 155 metres underground. Upon arrival, a guided tour of the mine familiarises guests with the new environment. Warm winter clothes are essential, as the temperature remains a frigid two degrees Celsius, all year round. Luckily, the suite is warmed to 18 degrees and the bed is equipped with extra-thick covers and stocked with additional blankets to ensure a good night’s sleep. After the introductory tour, the guide presents a hamper containing an assortment of refreshments (cheese, biscuits, fruits, sparkling wine and chocolate). Armed with biscuits and bubbly, the experience becomes increasingly relaxing. The surface is contactable via an intercom radio, just in case tranquillity turns to turmoil. A toilet is on hand 50 metres from the mine suite and access to showers is available in a hostel above. In the morning the guide will return, bringing breakfast, after which the journey ends.
Price: 3,990 SEK ($603) for two people (for bookings made before April 30) and 4,290 SEK ($648) for two people (for bookings made after May 1). More information here.