The train pulling into Luleå train station in Sweden’s north during winter is greeted by a sea of white and the occasional local shuffling by. My boyfriend David and I are one of five people to step off the train, each of us with suitcase in tow. We spot the one driver waiting in the otherwise empty car park and he sees us instantly, as if it could be no more obvious that we’re not locals.
We’re going to Harads, an hour’s drive from Luleå along wide open roads surrounded by nothing but the forest. It’s one of the most beautiful countryside landscapes I’ve ever seen. Sitting in the back of the luxury European car all I can think is “it’s a good thing we’ve booked our stay at the Treehotel!” Immersed in the natural landscape, Treehotel is an eco-friendly resort run by a Swedish family which promises to provide a truly authentic Scandinavian experience.
With only six tree houses to choose from, bookings are undoubtedly hard to come by. The trick is to plan ahead and book as soon as possible to guarantee your spot. You won’t have any control over which house you get, but if you spend a couple of nights there you can stay in a different house each night.
David and I spent two nights at the resort, the first in the blue cone, a red cubby-house, and the second in the aptly named bird’s nest. We were more excited and impressed by the latter because it meant we were actually suspended high up in the trees for the night – just like you would imagine a tree house to be.
Each of the tree houses is built for four people so families are well accommodated for. Peak periods include both summer and winter for the midnight sun and northern lights respectfully. We stayed during winter in January 2015, passing through on our adventure around Scandinavia.
As the tree houses are environmentally friendly, you won’t have access to running water inside. Instead you’ll have enough in the fridge to keep your thirst at bay, a giant jug of water for washing your hands, face and brushing your teeth and of course, water to boil should you want to make tea or coffee. The toilets on the other hand, incinerate. You’ll be shown how they work on check-in but it’s really very easy. Instead of a “flush” button, these toilets have a flame which is actually really cool.
“But how will I shower?” I hear you ask. There are two saunas. You’ll have to book with reception when you’d like to use them so no one interrupts you. We made our bookings for straight after dinner. You’ll have two hours in the sauna which includes access to two steam rooms, a shower, mini-bar, robes and towels. Of course you don’t have to spend two hours in there if all you are after is a wash. But who can resist a good sauna in winter time?
The family’s house is where you’ll enjoy all of your meals (unless you book activities like snowmobiling where it will be provided for you), and where you can store your bulky luggage. You’ll want to stick to taking just an overnight bag to the tree houses because you might have to climb up into them, depending on which one you get. The meals here are homemade by members of the family so you’ll feast on a taste of Sweden that won’t be served in a restaurant. From locally caught pickled herring to freshly baked apple and lingonberry pie, the hearty food is perfect for a winter pick-me-up.
On check out we paid for all of our extra expenses (food, sauna bookings, etc) before we were driven back to Luleå. For us it was straight to the airport where we left Sweden for the wonders of Finland.
We loved our stay at Treehotel, not just for the unique rooms and toilets which literally burned our waste, but for the warm and friendly, family atmosphere. The saunas were an added bonus!
If you can, get out to Harrads Tree Hotel for an experience unlike any other.
I give Treehotel five stars.
Have you stayed in a tree hotel? Leave me a comment below! Don’t forget to check out my other articles on Sweden.
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