Kaalasjärvi, Sweden

Photo: Arctic Gourmet Cabin

If you’re going to travel this summer, your mindset has to change. Quickly. You can’t deal with crowds. You’re looking for remote locations and freestanding cabins. Small restaurants are key, too. So the search begins.

Since you’d originally planned to go to Sweden this year, you revisit a trip to the Scandinavian country. You won’t be able to spend as much time as you wanted in Stockholm. But things change as you head north. Though Lapland, Sweden’s northernmost province, covers nearly one-quarter of the country, it’s home to less than four percent of the population. The farther north you go, the more the numbers decrease. By the time you reach Norrbotten, Lapland’s northern tip, sparse is an understatement.

Less than 50 people live in Kaalasjärvi. The small village lies along the Kalix River and Lake Kaalasjärvi. Farmers and fishermen first settled the area in the early 19th century. Some of their original houses, inspired by local Sámi culture, have been preserved along the water. Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost town, is 12 miles away. Abisko National Park is just a bit farther. They all lie within the Arctic Circle.

Photo: Arctic Gourmet Cabin

Arctic Gourmet Cabin is the reason to venture this far north. The guesthouse features just two cabins. An Aurora outdoor spa sits in between them. A shower, a toilet, and a sauna are in the main building. So is the Studio. With only two tables, it’s one of the smallest restaurants in the world. Plus the lake is just steps away. You’ll be completely surrounded by nature.

This cozy little spot was created by Johan Löfgren and his family. They built the wooden buildings—with tall windows and simple, modern furniture—a few years ago. The cabins have double beds, comfy armchairs, and local photographs. Kettles (warm beverages) and minibars (beer, wine, and snacks) were added, too. The hot tub, which is always set at 100 degrees, sits on the wooden deck outside.

In the Studio, Johan will treat you to a three-course candlelit dinner each evening. It’s like having a personal chef. He focuses on local specialties and seasonal produce. Arctic char or whitefish, moose or reindeer are usually incorporated into his menus. Forest berries are, as well. Wine pairings are thoughtful since they obviously aren’t local. The playlist is curated. While the dramatic sky—the northern lights in the winter and the midnight sun in the summer—acts as a perfect backdrop. This charmer will give you an opportunity to start enjoying life and nature again.


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