In 2011, Varberg on the Swedish west coast celebrated 200 years as a health resort. Also known for its castle and fortress, the town has several properties dedicated to Spa and wellbeing.
Hotel Gästis is situated in “The Torell House”, a red 17th-century building named after scientist and explorer Otto Torell (1828-1900), opposite the English Park only 200 meter from the central station in Varberg.
Of the hotel’s 70 rooms, no room looks alike another and differs in interior, shape and size. Like every room, my double room on the second floor had walls decorated with selected reproductions of old book covers and works by famous art masters. Opposite the desk were a shelf with magazines and a book case with literature for loan or sale. Guests can bring one book home for free (I picked Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers), any other book is SEK 10 (about $1.5), and during a stay one can borrow an unlimited amount of books from the dining room, the smoking lounge and bookshelves in the hotel. Roughly 15,000 books fill the shelves throughout Hotel Gästis’ multiple floor plans and long winding corridors. In the hotel’s elevator, one rolling wall is covered with hundreds of book covers from the 1940s.
The owner Lasse Diding has embraced the concept of “Everything shouldn’t cost” by offering guests daily newspapers and magazines, 600 VHS films for free rental, free breakfast buffet, afternoon coffee, evening buffet (with bread, cold and warm dishes and dessert), access to their private bath, and free laundry service. Diding wants guests to feel at home, and what better way than making sure everyone is well taken care of through generous services.
The books may make you spend hours in one of the hotel’s cozy reading corners. The Lenin bath in the cellar lets you unwind in another way.
The bath is a mini replica of the 18th-century Lenin bath in the Smolnij Palace in S:t Petersburg, former Leningrad (1924-91), where the revolutionaries of the communism passed time in Lenin’s favorite bath. Apparently, Diding visited the bath in Leningrad in 1983, saved the idea, and created his bath from memory. Political viewpoints aside, it’s an admirable achievement. The 200 sqm relax area in mainly dark blue ceramic also has a cold bath, foot baths, steam sauna, treatment rooms and a relax room with more books.
Staff members have worked at Hotel Gästis as much as 5, 10 or 20 years. Although the hotel is newly renovated, the peace and quiet of the old days, a hundred or so years back when Gästis received its first guests, is still present.
Comwell – Varbergs Kurort (Resort)
Nominated “Sweden’s best Spa” and “Best Spa in Europe”, Comwell – Varbergs Kurort preserves the town’s spa tradition as an award winning health resort with an extensive spa treatment and therapy selection. Thanks to a location right by the coast along Apelviken, a beach walk stretching to the center of Varberg, along with beautiful surroundings, guests can feel as much wellbeing inside as outside of the resort. Before or after treatments, why not walk, jog or bike along the water? If the weather doesn’t cooperate, there’s a gym open from dawn until late night.
All rooms, from Laura Ashley-decorated Standard rooms to Grandlit, Superior, suites and an ocean-view Spa suite, feature modern interior, high quality beds from Carpe Diem or Hästens for a good night’s sleep, and free bathrobes and slippers to all Spa guests.
The Spa facility has everything one needs to relax, calm the mind and forget about everyday worries; classic sauna, steam sauna, 50°C paus sauna, bubbel bath, sweet water bath, cold spring, cold shower and a 34°C ocean water pool with handcrafted water from the sea. A Spa visit can be complemented with various balance-enhancing spa and lifestyle treatments (including massage, mindfulness and nutritional advice).
In the evening, Restaurant Salt & Water’s offers a superbly prepared, fresh dinner buffet with home-baked bread, cold dishes, two warm dishes (whereof one vegetarian), and dessert. The breakfast buffet is equally well presented and gives guests a healthy start to the day.
Comwell – Varbergs Kurort is situated a short car, taxi or bus ride from the center of Varberg.