Vaxholm is a popular day trip excursion from Stockholm, part of the archipelago fanning out from the capital of Sweden. If you want to spend the night at a hotel, you’ll find your one option right by the ferry terminal: Waxholms Hotell.
If you want to get technical, this is not “Vaxholm Island,” but is just the most populated town and island that’s part of the Vaxholm Islands archipelago. And there is actually one other place to bed down here as a guest: at 27-room Kastellet Bed & Breakfast inside the Vaxholm Castle Fort. That’s on its own separate island though, which you reach by a short cable-connected ferry ride from right outside this hotel. The fort was rebuilt several times to withstand improving weapons and this last version went up in the 1800s. It’s not open as a museum and you can walk around the entire structure on a footpath.
The island that this hotel sits on is not large. You can do a walking tour of the area most visitors explore in a half hour and if you want to walk all the way to the far end of the island, that will take you another 30 minutes or less. It feels isolated and special, however, a place that seems a million miles away from busy Stockholm. That’s despite the fact that though most visitors arrive by boat, the residents can get in a car and drive across a few bridges to get to the big city.
With 42 rooms, Waxholms Hotell is able to handle most of the overnight visitors, though get ready for a bit of Scandinavian minimalism. If you’re traveling solo there’s good news and bad news. First you can actually rent a single room. The bad news is, that room and its bed are probably smaller than anything you’ve slept in since you last wore pajamas with cartoon characters on them. The view makes up for it though. The rooms that face the water have a small furnished balcony that looks out at other islands and the boats coming and going. Those on the other side of the hallway face the island and some have a view of the fort.
Comfortable beds and furniture for working or lounging join comfortable baths with steaming hot showers and heated towel racks. There’s a mounted flat-screen TV on the wall and in Sweden, foreign movies and TV shows are never dubbed. Another fact the country is justifiably proud of is that the tap water is drinkable and tastes good. There’s a bottle set out for you.
Most guests are not spending all that much time in their room, thanks to a fine restaurant with a panoramic view, a separate full bar, and another bar and restaurant on the ground floor open during the summer months. The two restaurants serve meals that make the most of local ingredients and the breakfast buffet is an enticing display of quality smoked meats, cheeses, yogurt, fruit, and fresh breads.
If there’s time for exploring, check out the impressive Cafe Hembygsgarden for a traditional fika of pastries and good coffee or tea. It’s difficult to choose what to eat from the choices and the views of the water may make you want to linger all day. We also took a boat ride out to Husmor Lisa for dinner and had an amazing tasting menu in the home dining room of chef Lisa. She serves up inventive dishes that draw from tradition using ingredients she grows or gets in these islands.
Waxholms Hotell was under renovation when I visited, emerging better than ever after a fire that gutted some of the conference rooms and part of the restaurant roof. Thankfully they caught it before it spread and this local landmark can keep serving guests who want a Swedish island experience not far from the hub of the action.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was a guest of the hotel while speaking at the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference Europe (TBEX) hosted by Visit Sweden.