Review of Salt & Sill Hotel, West Sweden

Posted by Anouk van den Eijnde at 10:02 on Thursday 28 October 2010

View from the sea of the Salt and Sill floating hotel. Photo: Salt and SillView from the sea of the Salt and Sill floating hotel. Photo: Salt and Sill

Salt & Sill ('salt and herring') is Sweden's first floating hotel. Built on pontoons in the harbour of a tiny fishing community on the herring island of Kladesholmen, you feel a million miles away from civilisation yet you're only an hour from Gothenburg. The hotel opened its doors in 2008, in addition to the already popular restaurant, famous for its herring platters and breathtaking sea views. Good food, stunning coastal location and a real connection with nature has quickly made Salt & Sill one of Sweden's 'must visit' hotels.

Rooms
There are 22 rooms and one suite (with private roof-top jacuzzi), all of which have their own outdoor seating areas overlooking the archipelago. The rooms are designed in a typically Scandinavean style: light & airy, simple yet stylish furniture and weathered wood features to reflect the close affinity with nature apparent throughout the hotel. All the rooms are even named after spices used in the kitchen, mine was called Lingon which translates as 'cowberry'. I had a wonderful night's sleep, gently rocked by the waves with not a sound for miles...

The house specialty: six different types of herring. Photo: Anouk van den EijndeThe house specialty: six different types of herring. Photo: Anouk van den EijndeFood
The restaurant is superb and well known for its strong focus on good quality local and seasonal produce, in this case anything that comes from the sea. The specialty is herring (Sill), unsurprisingly seeing as half of all herring production comes from Kladesholmen. When in Rome... I indulged in a starter with six different types of herring, which included my favourite (and coincidently voted 'Herring of the year' in Sweden) 'Herring marinated in mustard and malt Whiskey'. I then opted for the pan-fried Plaice with lukewarm dill mayonaise, a salad of locally-grown potatoes, asparagus and crayfish. I tried a local Swedish lager 'Grebblestad' which went down a treat, followed by a nice Rioja.

As you might expect, all this attention to detail and quality comes at a price (roughly £15 for starters and £25 for mains) but matched with sea views, friendly and knowledgeable staff and atmospheric decor, it's well worth the spend. The breakfast is also excellent, with DIY muesli (a large variety of seeds, nuts, grains, dried and fresh fruits), different types of yogurt, batter and waffle maker, scented loose teas, homemade breads and jams and eggs.

The characterful interior of Astol's Rokeri. Photo: Anouk van den EijndeThe characterful interior of Astol's Rokeri. Photo: Anouk van den EijndeActivities
The hotel offers guests complementary bikes, so after breakfast I set off to explore Kladesholmen on two wheels. I cycled over to Ronnang Harbour and took the ferry to the most 'lived-on' island, Astol (as opposed to islands only populated during the summer holidays). It's a quaint little island and noticeably tight-knit. The big highlight here is 'Astol Rokeri', a fish smokery, gourmet restaurant  and buzzing music venue in the summer.

Owners Pia and Leif Edlund Johansson, both professional actors, took over the restaurant from Pia's parents in 2004 and have progressively made it the popular destination it is today. The delightful main room of the restaurant was full of guests savouring smoked herring, mussels, mackerel and shrimp, the Pia and Leif, professional actors and owners of Astol's Smokery and Restaurant. Photo: Anouk van den EijndePia and Leif, professional actors and owners of Astol's Smokery and Restaurant. Photo: Anouk van den Eijndewalls adorned with colour photographs of musicians that performed there taken by Pia's late father, a professional photographer. The adjacent room was more historic, featuring large black & white photographs of Astol's former residents and fisherman, as well as fishing nets and wooden tables made out of recycled wood from the island's previous houses.

There is a real pride in heritage, the most popular item on the menu being 'Gulan's fish soup', a once-secret recipe now shared by the wife of the restaurant's lobster fisherman. I was pretty glad Gulan finally shared her recipe as it was definitely worth coming to the island just for that. Pia and Leif are an inspiring pair, committed to supporting local fishermen and outraged that they have to buy certain fish (like shrimp) centrally in Gothenburg when they are fished locally. They live on the island with their two small children, once in a while escaping to the bright lights to feature in a film (for more information, see: www.astolsrokeri.se).

Salt and Sill's floating sauna, quite an experience. Photo: Salt and SillSalt and Sill's floating sauna, quite an experience. Photo: Salt and SillLater on, when I returned to the hotel, I thought I'd indulge in a truly Scandinavian activity - the sauna. Like everything at Salt & Sill, it's a floating sauna and you can even rent it out and take it out to sea. I took a couple of dips in the sea and warmed up in sauna. I could get used to this!

The Green
Building a floating hotel is telling of the owners' commitment to sustainability, as it ensures that there is no impact on the land or nature of the island, and should the hotel one day close, the island will remain unscarred by a big development. Theo, Salt & Sill's engineer, proudly showed me how the hotel and restaurant's heat is generated through geothermal wheels from underneath the hotel, at the bottom of the sea. I like to think that I took a warm shower that morning, thanks to the waves of the sea. The hotel was built using local suppliers and all the wood is sourced from Swedish pine forests. All toiletries are organic and refillable.

Getting there
Salt & Sill is about 45 min drive from central Gothenburg. By public transport (roughly 1.5hrs), you need to take the bus from Nils Ericson bus terminal in Gothenburg towards Henan to Myggenas Korsvag, then take bus 355 to Kladesholmen (stop at Kladesholmen Ostra). The bus stops just outside the hotel.  I'd recommend not travelling on a sunday though, as the bus doesn't travel all the way to Kladesholmen Ostra - I had a bit of an adventure getting there (but after a train journey that broke down, and a free taxi ride courtesy of the train company, I managed to arrive ahead of time and in style).

Verdict
Salt & Sill is the perfect place to escape the everyday and connect with nature. Surrounded by stunning coastal landscapes, featuring an award-winning restaurant and a floating sauna, it really is a destination in its own right.

For more information, visit: www.saltosill.se/english

Getting to Gothenburg by train:
I took the train from London to Gothenburg via Brussels, Cologne and Copenhagen. Return fares from London to Gothenburg are from £253 in standard class. All prices are per person subject to availability. For more information on timings and to book tickets, see our rail journey planner: Train from London to Gothenburg.

For more information on Gothenburg, and to book hotels online: www.goteborg.com
For more information on West Sweden: www.westsweden.com

Related articles:
City break in Gothenburg, Sweden
Gothenburg's bike hire scheme
Way Out West Festival, Gothenburg, Sweden

Disclosure

Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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