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“Glamping” at Island Lodge in the Stockholm Archipelago

“Glamping”, also known as “glamourous camping”, is a new environmental movement aimed at encouraging those who cling to urban comforts to go out into the wilderness and experience nature in style.

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The Background

The Island Lodge in the Stockholm Archipelago is the kind of place you feel the need to return immediately after leaving. Based on the concept of an African safari, the island is home to six strategically-placed tents, bathrooms, one larger communal tent, and a kitchen, which can be found in a converted missile-making bunker that also houses a Steinway piano. The island has long remained rural and as untouched as possible, allowing nature to be it’s authentic and wild self. There’s a kind of quiet on the island that brings to mind the fairy island of childhood, with paths that run through wildflowers and carpets of moss that glisten in the sun and glow in the moonlight. One is invited to indulge in the floating sauna, lit by one lantern, before jumping into the Black Sea to cool off and soak in the fresh air.

Pine trees extended as far as the eye can see, running over a ground cover of lichen, blueberries, and lingonberries. The main tent is beautifully decorated with fresh flowers, cut by the owner Christina, and the lack of chargers encourages guests to fully immerse themselves in the moment, enjoying subtle details like the unbelievably delicate floating water violets on site. For dinner, Island Lodge offers freshly-picked chanterelle mushrooms served among the birch trees and dandelions in their own island garden.

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The Experience

“Glamping?” I asked astonished. “Yes, she said laughing, it’s kind of like camping but, you know, glamorous. It’s meant for people who would like to be outdoors experience nature but who still enjoy a certain comfort and design standard.”

That did sound intriguing to me and before I knew it, our adventure began: we took the ferry from Stockholm, passing through the beautiful archipelago with the tiniest islands. Often times there was just one tiny house build on one island, and we wondered would it would be like to stay there.

In less than an hour we arrived in the harbor of Waxholm. Kristina and Torkild, our hosts, were waiting for us already with their dog Milla, who was happily waiving her tail and greeting the new guests.

In a swift, secure motion Kristina drove the boot closer to our destination– it made me smile as I thought about how Scandinavian women were as confident and strong as I remembered. As she did this, Torkild explained a bit more about the island, how they used to build and store missiles there, in catacombs that are still on the island. Nowadays, the space is used for concerts and dinner respites when the weather is not that great.

Soon we arrived at a very modern tent-meets cabin located at the end of the pier. My friend and I sat down and took a moment to enjoy the beauty that surrounded us– the view to the sea, the sun beams reflecting on the water, the fresh breeze, and the incredibly pure air. It was almost unbearably beautiful.

After Torkild served us a delicious meal of salmon and potatoes– all organic and sourced locally– we went to see the tents. It turned out these tents were indeed very different from the typical camper’s tents. They were sturdy, futuristic looking, and inside each had two nice beds with comfortable mattresses (oh yes!) and a large window with the view to the ocean. The decor was Swedish interior design at its finest, and only later on did we discover that Kristina styled everything herself.

GCIsland Lodge reminded me a bit of Narnia. We went for a ‘discovery’ walk, observing trees fallen in unusual ways, deer popping up, and many wild plants. My friend, who has a slight obsession with moss, was so happy and crowing about all the different kinds she discovered that we coined the term ‘mossgasmic‘.

After exploring all day we were indulged in another delicious meal, this time with coffee and a glass of wine that we enjoyed while sitting on the peer, watching a sky painted with the most amazing colors.

“Are you ready for Sauna?” Torkild asked, and we walked to a floating Sauna attached to the pier, which looked like an extra little island. It was almost dark at this point, but entirely, as it so often goes with Scandinavian summers.

The oven was gleaming with burned wood, and I swept some water over the oven stones to create more steam. Wrapped in our towels we enjoyed the heat and the smoky/wooden smell that only a real sauna has. Right after our session, my friend surprised me with a major jump right into the dark sea. She swam on her back and looked up at the sky.

Cooling off and sitting on the benches we talked about life, love, and the future– it was a good place to ponder new things. Meanwhile, Torkild lit some lights, which lit our path back to the tent. I cuddled into the cozy bed and slept like a baby. The first thing I saw in the morning was the sun beams reflecting in the sea. (What a way to wake up!)

Part of the experience, of course, was the “bathroom cabin” and its beautifully-designed outdoor shower– an experience I enjoyed immensely. It was simply refreshing to stand there, the water pouring over me, immersed in the smell of the forest… The day feels different when it begins like that.

Already a bit sad about leaving the island, we had a delicious breakfast with fresh bread and home made jams before packing our belongings and heading to the pier. As our boat took off to bring us back to the mainland we couldn’t help but feel like we should have stayed longer. “Glamping” may be a relatively new concept in 2015, but the relaxation that comes with it is timeless.

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