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  • Writer's pictureGreen Traveller

Swedish Country Living, West Sweden

As part of our feature on Climate Smart Holidays in West Sweden, Sarah Baxter took the train from the UK to West Sweden in September to visits five low carbon places to stay. Here is the fourth place she visited: Swedish Country Living

The hermitages at Swedish Country Living: left: A-frame Hermitage. right: Slate-house Hermitage

Photos: Richard Hammond

In a nutshell:

Three stylish but cosy, off-grid cottages, surrounded by forest and next to a huge lake where you can paddle out to an island or just kick-back and enjoy an outdoor heated bath by the tall grass. The owners - former restaurants owners – provide everything from meat from their grazing sheep to home grown veg and serve up a fabulous dining experience in a beautiful Orangery.

Rooms: Three Hermitage Cottages in woodland, all sleep two: the orginal Hermitage is a beautiful tiny house; the A-Frame Hermitage has a stylish Scandinavian interior with the bed up a ladder in the loft; the Slate House Hermitage is a gingerbread house covered with over 4,000 slate tiles - looks out over a pond.

Price: 2-night package from 5,450 Swedish Krona per person, minimum two people, includes two breakfast, one packed lunch, and two dinners plus use of canoe or kayak with life jacket

Meals: Breakfasts in your room or in the Orangery

Open: April to September

Carbon count: One night at Swedish Country Living creates around 0.4kg CO2-equivalent per person (the carbon emissions at an average hotel in Sweden is approximately 6.8kg CO2-eq)

Our stay at Swedish Country Living, including staying in the hermitages, kayaking on the lake, relaxing in an outdoor hot bath overlooking the lake, and cooking our own pizza in the evening.

All photos: Richard Hammond, except final food photo: Badass.

Sarah Baxter's insight:

Looking at the Slate House, watching smoke curl from its chimney up into the surrounding trees, I thought: this could be centuries old. Its thick doors were timeworn, its roof traditionally tarred, its windows antique, its walls clad in grey slate tiles, no two quite the same. And yet, it was hand-built in 2021. A mini-monument to recycling at its most chic.

The Slate House is one of three unique cabins at Swedish Country Living, the brainchild of David and Marie Naraine (pictured below). They used to work in restaurants and designer fashion. Now, they’ve turned the land around their 1850s Dalsland summerhouse into a idyllic rural retreat. It’s an exemplar of how to live sustainably and in style.

The whole site is circular. The showers are fed by lake water, which is then filtered via the greenhouse and pumped back into the lake. The waste from the separating toilets composts the land. Sheep graze on rotation, promoting biodiversity; lambs are butchered on site and served, deliciously, in the orangery by the veg patch – not food miles but metres.

The cabins have no electricity, running water or en suites (though each has access to a private shower room). What they do have is character in spades. The couple’s architect son, Jonathan, designed them, starting not with floor plans but with the salvaged windows, bricks and doors his parents had accrued. “It was fun, doing it that way,” he said as we canoed on the lake one dazzling afternoon. “This way of designing, based on what you have, is the way of the future, and the challenge we face with climate change.”

woman and man with vegetable garden in background
David and Marie Naraine. Photo: Richard Hammond

How to get to Swedish Country Living

By train: It's just over an hour from Gothenburg (five hours from Stockholm) – the train stops at Mellerud station, where you can organise with the owners to book transfer to Swedish Country Living (it's about 10km) by electric car.

By electric car: It's about 140km (just under 2 hours) from Gothenburg. There’s a 22kW solar EV charge point on site.

More information:

Book a stay at Swedish Country Living:

woman in hot tub with lake in the distance
Sarah relaxes in the hot tub overlooking the lake at Swedish Country Living. Photo: Richard Hammond


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