BASTAD BAY: THE SWEDEN YOU COME SO FAR TO SEE.
Actually it’s not that far away, just 865 miles from London.
The plan had been to drive all the way down the south west coast from Gothenburg to Sweden’s third city Malmo. It’s only 170 miles leaving plenty of time to explore wherever we end up: Malmo itself; Copenhagen just across the Oresund Link or – most likely – Ystad, on the coast, where they filmed detective series Wallander. Ahem.
After 100 miles though, having suffered continual glimpses of the sea the whole way down, we see a sign for a place called Bastad and can’t resist.
The road into town follows the southern shore of Laholmsbukten (Laholm’s Bay). We stop in the central square beside this church and get lunch – ‘open sandwiches and coffee’ – from a café. On a stroll down to the sea shore afterwards we come across one of the most amazing hotels we have ever seen.
On one side is a fine, copper-roofed, exactingly restored nineteenth century former grain barn.
On the other side – connected by a glass walled reception area, through which we can see the sea – is a Wimbledon Centre Court-style tennis grandstand. Hotel Skansen doubles as the beachside venue for the Swedish Open tennis tournament. We absolutely have to stay here.
Spectators on the upper rows of the tennis grandstand have a view of the sea too. Photo courtesy of Tengbom Architects, www.tengbom.se
Hotel Skansen complex. Grain barn centre right. Centre left, 60m into the bay, the hotel’s bath house.
£195, take it or leave it. Actually the price isn’t bad considering it includes an a la carte breakfast, parking, entry to the bath house, a game of tennis on centre court if you want, and a room right on the beach. Photo courtesy of www.hotelskansen.se
Unsurprisingly Bastad turns out to be the weekend playground of Sweden’s mega rich. The Wallenbergs (Scania, Astra Zeneca), Perssons (H&M) and Rausings (Tetrapak) all have places around here. Only the Kamprads (Ikea) don’t because founder Ingvar was born just over the hill and prefers it there. As is the Swedish way it’s super discreet. Apparently they all live in the regular little cottages that line the streets.
Laholm’s Bay is formed at the southern shore by Hallandsas, a ridge which extends out into the Kattegat Sea – the outflow of the Baltic between Sweden and Denmark – where it becomes the Bjare Peninsula.
Can’t say what it’s like at the height of summer but three days into the Scandinavian winter Bjare is totally quiet. We don’t hear or see another person or car for the rest of the afternoon.
Needless to say the water is crystal clear and glassy smooth.
At the end of Bjare is Hovs Hallor, 200m high red cliffs. At six miles its too far for our late afternoon walk unfortunately. Just off the end of the peninsula is Hallans Vadero island where British sailors killed at the Battle of Copenhagen are buried (the one where Nelson pinched – ‘Copenhagenised’ – the Danish fleet).
Some interesting cars may have driven along this road seeing as supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg is based on the south side of Bjare at Angelholm Aiport.
Beautiful, but absolutely freezing cold.
This surreal day is topped off by watching Andy Murray beat Roger Federer in the final of the Shanghai Open live on TV (honestly, 17 October 2010 if you don’t believe me).
Thanks Sweden, that was great. The lesson has to be: we would never have found Bastad and Hotel Skansen if we’d booked or planned ahead.