My friends abroad often ask me how we survive the long, cold and dark winter here in Sweden. Quite frankly, we barely do, but we have our ways to keep ourselves afloat (pun somewhat semi-unintended as this is going to be an article about a spa). You might not believe it, but Sweden is actually quite a huge country compared to for example the UK. The distance between the southernmost point of Sweden to the northernmost is as long as the distance from the southernmost point in Sweden to France. I’m from Stockholm which is halfway up the country, but moved down to the south of Sweden to study four years ago and that’s when I discovered the beauty and diversity we have in Sweden. You might have heard about a huge trend (at least in the UK) called “hygge”. That’s Danish and means having a good time and enjoying the small things in life. We Swedes know to have a “hygge” as well, it’s just that we call it “mys”. “Mys” is what this post is all about as it not only means having a good time and appreciating the small things in life, but extends to feeling really good inside and out, often in company of others, or just by yourself when sorting your thoughts out with a good book or something else you enjoy doing.
After the somewhat long introduction I haven’t even got to the main part of the article yet. It’s all about my stay at Ystad Saltsjöbad, a hotel, spa and conference centre that has been in existence for 110 years which is (literally) right by the Baltic Sea at Ystad in Österlen, the most beautiful part of the coast of Skåne (where I live). What it offers is an experience which has healing capabilities to both body and soul and both the interiors and surroundings are breathtaking. I’ll actually tell you about my stay in chronological order so you can see how 24 hours of pure mindfulness, happiness and enjoying life (mys, remember) in my life look like. So join me and welcome to a real Swedish gem well worth visiting.
The rooms (as well as the entire hotel section of the complex) is decorated in a wonderful New England meets Scandinavian interior and you feel the presence and close proximity to the sea at all times. My room had a wonderful jacuzzi in it as well, but when you’re at a spa… well, there just wasn’t the time or need to use it quite frankly. The room was fully equipped with all the amenities one would expect from a 4-star (four and a half according to tripadvisor and 5 star if you ask me) hotel.
But let’s face it though. A hotel room, however enchanting and cosy it is, is still just that. A hotel room. That’s why I always bring something of my own to make if feel more like home. Most of the time it’s a scented candle as that enhances my experience and also has a soothing effect on me.
So having unpacked and sorted my luggage out I quickly changed into my bathrobe which would be the only thing I wore until dinner (well, I DID have shorts on too, so no worries). I see now that I look somewhat scared in the pool (out of which there were two), but that’s just because I’m a short little shrimp and I had to stand on my toes in order to actually reach above water level. Story of my life, really. Apart from the pools there are hot tubs and heated pools outdoors as well. I’m somewhat of a chicken so it was too cold for me to do that. I mean I seriously tried it out, but thankfully my photographer Hugo didn’t have his camera with him at the time. There are also three different kinds of saunas in the pool area.
Like I said. It was all about being in your bathrobe. In the two story building the upstairs was dedicated to total relaxation in front of the fireplace enjoying the silence and some calming music and all the snacks you could eat. Here I’m saying cheers to my wonderful assistant Barbora (who you’ll see more of later on in coming posts) for a good day so far.
Before dinner I had a cup of tea and was observing the view from the French balcony in my room and as you can see, Ystad Saltsjöbad (I dare you guys to pronounce that!) is built on the beach. Just hearing the waves made me realize that the sea is my happy place in life. By the sea I can l put all worries aside and just go into true serenity.
Ystad Saltsjöbad also hosts two restaurants out of which one is a French-American styled bistro whereas the other one is best described by the hotel itself on their homepage where they describe it as “Our Swedish-American seafood restaurant, seating 200. Think East Coast America, Österlen and JFK. A timeless classic – a luxurious summer residence with an enviable culinary tradition. The love of food is matched only by the culinary skills. Produce with a strong local presence, combined with meticulous preparation, gives the food a consistent sense of freshness. The emphasis is on seafood and vegetables. The presentation is modern, with honest main ingredients and a coastal feel. The name alludes to the sea outside the windows, and our restaurant being the most vital location in the hotel – our safe harbour.” I think that says it all. And oh, the waiter being cute didn’t hurt either.
After dinner I chose to relax in one of their small hideaways reading a book for a while. Wherever you are in the hotel, nature is always just a window away, just as you can see in the picture below.
After a night well slept I woke up really early in order to see the sun rise. I’m not a morning person, but somehow I was still in a good mood as by some magic order they played Goldfrapp’s movie/concert on TV that very night. It was 2 hours long and made me feel like the happiest guy on earth with all pieces in my life falling together. It’s not often that I say this, but thank you Swedish Public Television for that broadcast that coincided with my stay, haha. (If you have no idea of who Goldfrapp is, here’s a clip)
After a nice morning walk on the beach watching the sun rise and it getting light I could have attended a yoga class which was held in the same area where we were chilling the night before, but I had more important things to attend to, that is…
…my mourning routine. I won’t go into the details here as this is not a beauty post, but the must needs for my hair and face are always with me when I travel.
After getting dressed it was time for breakfast. Despite all the goodies they had on display there’s one thing I can’t live without when it comes to hotel breakfast and that’s waffles! Especially when I get to make them myself. Top that with some cream and blueberry jam and I’m in heaven (tip to anyone trying to seduce me). That’s kind of weird as I’m not a breakfast person really, but at hotels I turn into one.
What would a day be without some photo shoots? Some of them you have already seen in previous posts, without knowing they were from here, but some are yet to come. As you can tell, the surroundings are equally stunning as the place itself.
Right about here the sun began to set and that marked the end of my 24 hour long stay at this retreat of tranquility and utter and complete relaxation. So to answer all your worries about how we survive the long autumn and winter here in Sweden: By doing things that grant us serenity and by enjoying the small things in life.