Glass visits Fiskebäckskil, Sweden for local seafood, fishing trips and kayaking

Fish and fresh air in Fiskebäckskil, Sweden – Glass visits the Swedish coast for luxurious local seafood, fishing trips and kayaking

IT’S days after midsummer on Sweden’s westerly coast, and the evenings are a bright, translucent blue. Slipens Hotell is as close as you can get to coast without swimming – though you can do that if you want to – and the sun is still sending pale yellow flecks into the water at 11pm. The air is pleasantly cold and windless. I’ve just come from dinner at Brygghuset, the hotel’s restaurant. Seafood is prolific here – we’d had a herring buffet and shellfish soup for lunch, and dinner was scallops followed by a generous portion of freshly caught, local hake.

The exterior of Slipens HotellThe exterior of Slipens Hotell

We’d had time to work up an appetite in between the two, kayaking with Christina from Kayak in Grundsund along the quiet, windy coastline. The water’s a clean, stormy blue and you can see the occasional jellyfish or jewellery-box starfish floating by, indifferently, in the current. The fresh, salty air is enough to galvanise even the most amateur kayaker into action, and it didn’t take us long to work up a rhythm, following Christina around wave-dented pockets of raw, untouched land. Halfway through, we pulled into the rocky shallows close to a miniature cliff edge. It was indented enough to block the wind somewhat, so we could pass around the hot black coffee and cinnamon buns she pulled out of a compartment in the front of her kayak.

Kayaking in Sweden - Photo Henrik TryggKayaking in Sweden. Photograph: Henrik Trygg

There’s something so much better about coffee when you’re in the middle of nowhere, with aching arms and sea spray in your hair. Kayaking is one of the most commonly enjoyed pursuits in this part of Sweden, and it’s easy to see why. After another 30 minutes we were back to the dock we started at, mastering stop turns, doused in seawater, and very reluctant to get back onto dry land. Back to Slipens, and I fit in a quick walk around the village before dinner. The colourful little houses that lined the quaint, winding streets had eye-level windows filled with the type of Scandinavian paraphernalia you’d see in an old cartoon.

Slipens HotellA room at Slipens Hotell

These are mostly summer houses, and I saw just one or two other people out. Indeed, staying at Slipens, you’d be forgiven for not wanting to leave your room at all. Each is individually designed, loosely themed around a notable character from the area. My room had two emerald-coloured cocktail chairs at the foot of its impossibly comfortable bed. The mattress, arguably the best I’ve ever slept on, was from a local brand called Carpe Diem.

 

Gullmarsstrand bedroomsGullmarsstrand bedrooms

The following morning we packed our bags and headed to the area’s other luxury residence. Gullmarsstrand is much bigger than Slipens, so offers an entirely different atmosphere despite its proximity. One of the highlights here is the spa area, which guests rent out privately for an hour at a time. It’s a quaint wooden hut that sits right over the water. A dip in the sea is encouraged, even on chillier days, and at the back there are steps right down into the water. It felt incredibly Scandinavian to crawl through the cool, swaying sea and pull myself up onto the wooden raft, designed for diving, that was set just away from the hut.

The spa at GullmarsstrandThe spa at Gullmarsstrand

And this bracing little interval made the large outdoor hot tub on the deck all the more inviting. After 20 minutes in there, I was ready for the sea again and then, very quickly, the indoor sauna which has views over the water and across to the ragged, mist-cloaked archipelagos in the distance.

Kayaking in Sweden - Photo by Henrik TryggKayaking in Sweden. Photograph: Henrik Trygg

Also on the agenda that day was a boat ride with Lars and Adriaan, local fisherman who, to my delight, specialised in the catching of oysters and mussels. Their little boat careered confidently through a tempestuous sea that threw itself on board with every turn. We sailed past islands, moss-green and sparsely populated but for the occasional deep-red dot of a person’s small summer hut or tag-along fishing boat. After 30 minutes or so, and entirely soaked, we arrived on their tiny, and very windy, private island. It was rocky and unforgiving – deep, stone-wedged inclines and the half-cracked shells of crabs and oysters making a mosaic of the floor.

Small fishing shack on the cliffs - Photo Jonas InSmall fishing shack on the cliffs. Photograph: Jonas In

A little wooden hut with fur rugs and a hot fire served as a good windbreaker; we sat behind it and ate oysters that they’d caught that morning. After that, a huge pot of hot, buttery mussels emerged and we all ate hearty portions as the sea crackled against the grey, salt-striped crags a few feet away. Back to drier land and we visited, briefly, the Havets Hus aquarium, which is filled with local sea life, then drove back to Gullmarsstrand for dinner. This time it was scallops followed by steak, with a distractingly beautiful view of the dark-honey sun setting over the sea entirely visible through the transparent walls.

GothenburgGothenburg

After such a departure from cosmopolitan life, one might like to spend a night or two in Gothenburg before heading home. It’s about an hour and half away by car and, while not quite as remote and picturesque as the coast, is still laden with Scandi charm. In the centre of the city, an orderly set of parallel-running streets give way to secret, candle filled courtyards that house cool restaurants, bars and cafes. Walk through Haga for a giant cinnamon bun and a dip into one of the many interior-design shops, then onto the fish market for a smorgasbord of delicious local seafood. In terms of accommodation, the Comfort Hotel is a good choice, as it’s so central and has a large roof terrace that’s nice enough to draw in tourists and locals alike.

After whiling away a few hours perusing homewares, I took a quick tram over to Majorna, an emerging, artsy neighbourhood, for a coffee. It’s a grungy spot, without the gloss of the centre, offering, perhaps, a more authentic taste of the city. That evening, my final night in Sweden, I passed Majorna again, this time by boat, on my way to Sjömagasinet. It has a Michelin star, and for good reason. The large salad starter was topped with a generous portion of lobster, while the main course, an enormous fillet of flounder coated in rich brown butter could not easily be surpassed.

by Becky Zanker

Direct flights to Gothenburg operate from Birmingham airport with bmi. All fares are inclusive of 23kg hold luggage, complimentary drinks and snacks on board, allocated seating and 30-minute check-ins. Fares from Birmingham to Gothenburg with bmi regional cost from £88 one way.

Double rooms in Slipens Hotell start from approx. £160 per night.

Double rooms at Gullmarsstrand start from approx. £180 per night.