Luxury floating hotel opens in Sweden
(CNN) — Framed by abundant woodland, surrounded by icy water and bathed in the glowing winter sun, this new hotel in Swedish Lapland already sounds pretty special.
And that’s before you realize its centerpiece is a circular structure adrift on the Lule River, reachable only via wooden walkway and designed to resemble a cluster of logs caught adrift on a Swedish waterway.
Welcome to Arctic Bath, a “floating hotel” in the Scandinavian north.
In the middle of this floating edifice is a giant ice bath, open to the elements and offering a pretty spectacular spa experience for guests who brave the cold. The rest of the building is comprised of various saunas and bathing experiences.
The hotel’s 12 rooms are dotted around the river banks and on the water’s edge, Scandi-chic cabins offering eye catching views of the ever-changing skies and cozy, minimalistic interiors.
This new accommodation spot, designed by architects Bertil Harström and Johan Kauppi, suggests a constant dialogue between nature and the man made structure.
Designs for Arctic Bath premiered back in early 2018, with its striking architecture and watery theme capturing the imagination of travelers across the world.
CEO Peter Engström tells CNN Travel that taking the hotel from design to reality wasn’t always easy — in fact, he thinks if the team knew about the technical challenges in advance, it might have put them off altogether.
The decision to locate some of the rooms on land was decided fairly late in the process. While building on land is easier than on water, Engström said it provided its own challenges — namely, to ensure the cabin’s elevation didn’t impact passage of fresh water and electricity.
The cabins were built above ground to avoid impact on the environment as sustainability is, Engström says, a “cornerstone” of the hotel’s ethos.
Now Arctic Bath — located about an hour and 15 minutes from Luleå Airport — is open for business, and also offers first-rate culinary offerings at the hotel restaurant.
The theme of wellness is also pretty high on the list of priorities for Arctic Bath, the food’s got a healthy bent, with locally sourced ingredients, while the emphasis on cold bathing is to aid muscle pain.
The ice bath, Engström says, in one of the hotel’s main draws, even if guests might be daunted by the idea.
“Fifty percent of arriving guests say, ‘I will never do that’ — but at least 90% really do the ice bath and more than once and they are all thrilled!”
Activities on offer include — unsurprisingly, perhaps — yoga, mindfulness and meditation.
There’s also the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors — think bear watching, horseback riding and courses in wildlife photography.
During the winter months, the Northern Lights illuminate the skies above.
The Arctic Bath team is also keen to bridge the gap between tourists and locals living in the neaby village of Harads, and guests will have the opportunity to learn more about the local Sámi culture by visiting a local resident at her home.
“From the start we invited locals to stay with us,” says Engström. They wanted the community to feel at home at Arctic Bath, and to offer feedback.
The team behind the new hotel also helped bring the nearby, successful Treehotel to life.
“I think TreeHotel prepared the world for Arctic Bath as the next project,” said co-architect Bertil Harström of Arctic Bath back in 2018.