Nestled in a forest a short walk from the sea in the Halland beach region of Sweden, Varbergs Kusthotell is in a historic building a short bike ride from the Varberg Fortress. With a location right off the country’s longest bike trail (Kattegattleden), it’s on the edge of a bustling summer resort town.
In many countryside towns in Europe there’s a hotel where people came to “take the waters” for their health, the minerals and sunshine thought to cure anything that ails you. This one was a bit different though. Kusthotell was not a hotel originally: it was built as a place for sickly children to come get well, expenses paid by a wealthy benefactor.
Now Varbergs Kusthotell is a national treasure, a spa resort nestled in the woods that’s just a short walk down a paved path to the sea. You can walk or ride a bike to reach the ocean, where brave locals plunge in for a dip in the summer. Walk on the beach for a while and you’ll see kite surfers and the normal kind bouncing off the waves in wetsuits. Although it was odd to encounter a Brazilian restaurant a stroll down the path from the hotel, you can’t beat the view from Rodizio when the moon rises over the water.
The 164 rooms range from small singles that were sized for patients rather than hotel guests to a few suites with real room to spread out. Naturally most guests tend to congregate in the spa area and lounges when it’s not sleeping time. The rooms are well-equipped though, with the expected comforts, a TV (they thankfully don’t dub movies or TV show in Scandinavia), and duvets on comfortable beds Large windows let in plenty of light and can be opened for a breeze. WiFi is complimentary throughout.
Each guest gets a robe and flip-flops to make use of the hotel’s main draw: the big spa. It is set up with a men’s section and a women’s section that are mostly dressing and showering areas. You don a bathing suit because the rest is co-ed. There’s a large indoor pool surrounded by glass, then an outdoor relaxation area with hammocks. Another area has a sauna, steam room, and several pools of varying temperature. One is a hot whirlpool.
Guests using the spa get a packet of sample-sized products to use for a full self-service spa treatment, including a seaweed based mask.
The main restaurant here is a beauty, making full use of the historic bones of the property but renovated to look fresh and inviting. The breakfast is a real Swedish smorgasbord with a wide array of cheeses, meats, eggs, fruit, and homemade bread and pastries. They also serve a lunch buffet and a la carte dinner. Nearby is a full bar and lounge area.
Sitting areas with games and a computer to use are past check-in, with a coffee bar here as well. Outside is a well-equipped exercise area complementing a small indoor gym and there are bicycles available to rent.
You can see more photos at the official website for Varbergs Kusthotell, but you may want to book elsewhere: the site is only in Swedish. Rates start at $65 for a single and $110 for a double. Book online at Expedia or Hotels.com.
Review and photos by Tim Leffel, who was hosted in the Halland region by Visit Sweden after being a speaker at Travel Bloggers Exchange Europe (TBEX).