Advertisement – this post is based on a press stay with Visit Sweden and the West Sweden tourist board
One of the joys of travelling to West Sweden is just how easy it is to combine city and countryside, so after three days in Gothenburg Chris and I decided to hire a car and embark on a 24-hour road trip along the beautiful Bohuslän Coast.
I always think there’s something magical about visiting the seaside in winter, when the water fades from deep blue to silvery grey and you have the beaches largely to yourself. And the Bohuslän Coast certainly didn’t disappoint. Stretching from Gothenburg all the way up to the Norwegian border, this string of rugged granite peninsulas, islands and skerries is backed by pine trees and dotted with pretty little fishing villages and quaint harbour towns.
Turning off the motorway an hour or so north of the city, we followed increasingly windy roads into the snow-covered wilderness, swooping over bridges, dipping in and out of forests, and skirting fjord-like inlets whose surfaces were a patchwork of broken ice.
Our destination was Lådfabriken, a unique B&B set just outside the tiny village of Edshultshall on the island of Orust. It occupies a former fish-box factory that was purchased in 2008 by Johan, a Swede who spent his childhood summers in the village, and his Dutch partner Marcel. They spent years transforming the run-down structure, and the results are nothing short of stunning. Wood-clad walls, suspended metal walkways and exposed girders remind you of the building’s previous life, but it’s now a stylish, eclectic and very welcoming place to stay.
The first thing that greets you as you step through the door is a kitchen made from stacked-up pallets and stainless steel; beyond, the space opens up into a double-height living area whose walls are adorned with oversized light-up letters. Easy chairs sit by picture windows gazing out to sea, and everywhere you look there are colourful artworks, quirky curios and iconic mid-century furniture.
Our room – one of four – was perched on a mezzanine, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over the living area below (don’t worry – there were blinds for privacy!). A vintage gymnastics horse sat in one corner; in another, a chest of drawers topped with a collection of toy cars. The bed was piled with cushions and snuggly reindeer hides, and a private shower room lay just across the landing.
After settling in, we followed a path down through the trees for a stroll along the beach. I was struck by how peaceful everything was – frozen and still, with that muffled silence you get when the world around you is blanketed in snow. The sky was heavy with clouds, and the monochrome colours of the winter landscape broken only by a few red cabins huddled between rocks along the shore.
Then it was back inside to warm up with a coffee, before an informal dinner around the kitchen table. Johan and Marcel are passionate about showcasing local ingredients and treated us to a three-course seafood feast: crayfish (simple, juicy, delicious), catch of the day from the nearby harbour of Mollösund, and a rich apple tart to finish. We lingered for hours, chatting to our hosts and the other guests over wine and green tea, before heading upstairs for a deep, uninterrupted slumber.
The next morning we awoke to find the clouds had given way to a watery blue sky. Johan and Marcel decided to take the B&B’s kayaks out for a paddle, while we ventured into the village to explore. During summer, it’s home to several hundred people and 90 or so boats, but in February it was almost entirely deserted. We wandered along empty streets and boardwalks, peered through the windows of pastel-coloured houses and debated which we’d choose for ourselves, and stood at the end of the pier as a trio of geese flapped overhead in perfect formation. The rocks and water glowed rose-gold in the low winter sun, and every now and then we’d spot Johan and Marcel gliding across the horizon.
It was soon time to tear ourselves away from Lådfabriken and Edshultshall, but we had one more treat in store before heading back to Gothenburg: lunch at Salt & Sill. Located in the herring-fishing town of Klädesholmen on the Tjörn Peninsula, it’s Sweden’s first floating hotel and consists of a beautiful waterside restaurant, plus 23 rooms set on pontoons. There’s even a sauna, along with a rooftop terrace and hot tub.
The food was delicious – herring (obviously!), fresh prawns and succulent white fish doused in a Jerusalem artichoke sauce, all served up with stunning views. And I couldn’t resist a peek inside a few of the simple but stylish wood-clad rooms, which each have windows positioned so you can watch the waves from the comfort of bed, as well as a slice of deck with steps leading straight into the water.
As we drove back towards the city, we found ourselves dreaming of returning to the Bohuslän Coast for a longer stay – perhaps during the balmy days of summer. But the harsh beauty of the Swedish winter will always hold a special place in our hearts, and our brief February visit could prove pretty hard to beat.
Lådfabriken is open year-round, and rooms start at 1,750 SEK (around £140 / €165 ) per night. For more information on the Bohuslän Coast, see the official West Sweden visitors’ guide.
Many thanks to Visit Sweden and the West Sweden tourist board, who kindly provided a free night’s stay at Lådfabriken, as well as car hire and lunch at Salt & Sill. We paid for flights and all other expenses ourselves.
All photography by Abi Dare