Hospitality on the Wild Side: Staying in Sweden’s Most Primitive Hotel

If you think going on an adventure means you cannot stay at a fancy hotel, listen to this. There is an environmentally conscious, chemical-free, and morally inclined hotel in Sweden situated 1km from the Skärsjön Beach called Kolarbyn Eco Lodge. It’s one of the most romantic, and at the same time, one of the most rustic places to spend the night. It is so primitive, in fact, that your hotel key card may end up being a wolf’s tooth or a buck’s antlers. In all likelihood, there won’t be the need for a hotel key card because the lodging is as open and free as the wilderness it is nestled in.

How Kolarbyn draws in Twilight fans

Photo: Bjorn Isaksson

The idea behind Kolarbyn is that it’s self-catering. In layman’s terms, it’s survival of the fittest. Instead of wasting resources on staff and technology, the guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in their natural surroundings. Self-catering is not exclusive to room service but extends to the various, vital elements of living in that environment like cutting firewood, fetching water, picking berries, and even disposing your waste. You do not, exactly, get to slaughter the meat, but there is a storage area where the food is stored communally. Do not expect a usurious bottle of water atop a minibar. It’s a real treat because descending into these moss-covered dens makes for a lot more organic experience than unzipping an entire arsenal of nylon and plastic. Inside the huts are modest, wooden furniture – just a table, chairs, and a bed, laid with real animal hides, and a cozy fireplace at the crux. Dishes and cutlery are provided, but chances are you will be so overwhelmed by the experience that you will get your hands dirty over and over again.

Tree bracelets are all the rage in Sweden these days

 Photo: Mikaela Larm

The absence of electricity at the resort means any adventurer will find plenty of productive activities. Hiking is an obvious choice. The spanning wilderness is as beautiful to behold as it can be challenging to traverse. Variance in elevation levels, terrain, and humidity will, literally, keep you on your toes the entire time. Then there is the water – beautiful and crystal clear. Canoeing, rowing are excellent alternatives to terrestrial activities. Fishing, in particular, is praised in Skärsjön Lake. Many of the visitors depend on the catch for lunch. You are not limited to these options, however. Let your imagination run free, and play hide and seek in the forest, hunt for trolls and leprechauns, or meditate under the majestic birches. Kolarbyn is not a hunting ground, keep in mind. So, don’t bring your bow and expect to take home any wild game meat!

Since it is a conservation area, there is a myriad of wildlife to discover and plenty of vegetation to study. It’s a good idea to keep a journal of the wonderful things you will see and discover. Just make sure to get back to your site ahead of time before dark to warm up your hearth for a cozy bedtime.

Coziness Level 99

Photo: Skogens Konung

Kolarbyn is an environmentally friendly facility built on natural materials. They avoid chemicals and toxins. Part of the proceeds received by the Kolarbyn goes directly to the conservation of nature and culture in various projects. In August 2004 Kolarbyn started a project to make the old tradition of charcoaling to live on in Skinnskatteberg. Charcoaling is an old-fashioned method of producing charcoal in kilns for the extraction of iron, and the people in Skinnskattebrg have done it for more than 400 years. Some of the guests’ contributions to the hostel are used to purchase charcoal burning materials.  All activities and related activities are always directed in an environmentally conscious perspective in order to protect the animals and nature. Kolarbyn aims to be at the forefront in terms of environmental footprint. Both the staff and the guests are encouraged to work and interact with nature in a kind way and to think more about their own environmental efforts. A huge part of Kolaryn’s philosophy is that we must always seek to buy organic and/or locally produced goods.

Best Time to Go

Summer. Unless you are a true adventourist and can withstand the harsh, Nordic winter in a miniature burrow. In that case, any time is the best time to go.

Bragging Rights

Dances with the wolves – or moose, or deer, or foxes, or whatever wild animal you may wake up next to. There are plenty to choose from. Just make sure to Instagram it.


Depending on where you are, the most significant portion of your budget will be travel. Rooms start at 400SEK (350SEK with a 50SEK membership) which roughly converts to $50 USD. The parking is FREE!

Insider Tips
  • Dress warmly
  • Ask before you consume any mushroom you find
  • Learn yodeling
Learn More

Visit Kolarbyn’s official website for pretty much all the info you’ll need.

Feature image photo: Lasse Fredriksson
Title image photo: Bjorn Isaksson

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