So you’ve slept in a cave, a treehouse, and an ice hotel. You tried glamping. While the thought of a cookie-cutter hotel room with lacquered furniture sends chills up your spine—you certainly won’t be collecting gold status at a big chain anytime soon. What’s next on your list of extreme places to sleep? How about a floating hotel?
Salt & Sill is the first floating hotel in Sweden. The two-story, cube-shaped buildings sit on floating pontoons on the island of Klädesholmen. The rooms—each named for a spice—have simple, modern Scandinavian design with weathered wood, crisp bedding, and pops of blue or orange. From the bottom level, a ladder lowers into the Skagerrak, the chilly strait that runs up the country’s western coast. The roof deck has a view of the Bohuslän archipelago and the dark sea. It’s the perfect place to relax on a sun lounger during the day or eat dinner under the endless summer sun in the warmer months.
The rooms aren’t the only things that float at this hotel, though. The sauna is located on the SS Silla, a catamaran moored by the hotel. Sweat in the sauna, decompress in the relaxation room, and then watch fishing boats go by from the deck. Between your thick, warm robe and the boat’s slight swaying motion, you almost fall asleep on the sauna boat.
But watching the fishing boats glide in and out of the harbor has made you want to explore little Klädesholmen. The fishing village was established in the 15th century. It was full of herring salting houses and canneries during the Great Herring Period of 1748-1808. But then the herring disappeared, and the fishermen moved north to Norway. The herring eventually returned in the latter part of the 19th century. Today, about half of Sweden’s spiced and pickled herring comes from this island north of Gothenburg.
Klädesholmen is connected to Tjörn, one of Sweden’s largest islands, by a bridge. The little town is full of red and white wooden cottages built close together to keep out the strong winter winds. Tjörn’s oldest remaining church is on the island, as is a small museum explaining the town’s herring history. After walking through the narrow streets, eat seafood soup and a shrimp salad sandwich for lunch on Kylen’s waterfront terrace.
Back at Salt & Sill, you return to the roof deck and listen to the sounds of the sea: the waves, the seagulls, and the wind. Sip a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in the boathouse lounge when you start to get chilly. You can still watch the water from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Then eat dinner at a window seat in the tavern, whose menu is based on what the sea is offering. Start with a herring plate—it’s always on the menu—in which three types of herring are paired with three different schnapps. Then eat Norwegian lobster tails in browned butter or baked hake with an oyster and champagne sauce. Autumn apple sorbet is the perfect light ending to the meal.
Between your full belly and the slight rocking motion, you’re exhausted. Luckily, extreme lodging doesn’t mean an uncomfortable night’s sleep. For that, you could have just gone to a chain hotel.