Hotel Highlights

  • Welcoming couple-run guesthouse
  • Excelllent, authentic Swedish home-cooking
  • Five minute's walk from the beach

Overview

The couple behind Hotel Stëlor have taken an 18th-century farmstead and turned it into haven of offbeat rusticity, eccentricity and out-and-out charm on the sandy coast of Sweden’s largest island. Dine on classic Swedish dishes in the converted barn, cosy up by the open fire in the lounge, and set out to explore Gotland’s rugged coast.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Hotel Stelor with us:

A jar of the Stëlor Kitchen's home-made mustard

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at Hotel Stelor

Free two-course welcome dinner for stays in April and May

Facilities

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Hotel Stelor - Gotland - Sweden

Need To Know

Rooms

Six.

Check–out

11am, but flexible. The owners are used to arrivals at all hours, so check-in is flexible too.

Rates

Double rooms from $263.61 (SEK1,741), excluding tax at 12 per cent.

More details

Prices include a buffet breakfast of fruits, breads and Swedish cured meats.

Also

Save some case space for a Gotland lambskin; you’ll see plenty of examples all over the hotel. If you fancy one, just ask Karin; her aunt runs a sheep farm down the road, and she’ll happily bring you a bundle to choose from.

At the hotel

Gardens, massage studio, cinema screenings in the barn. In rooms: iPad, bottled water, fruit, original art, Oliv bath products. Some rooms have working fireplaces. Don’t expect TVs or fancy entertainment systems – that wouldn’t be very rustic.

Our favourite rooms

Each room is inspired by a different archetype (writer, architect, soldier, etc), from the Strindbergian garret in the eaves (number 4) to the spacious, taxidermy-hung scientist-tribute number 5, which has a brass telescope for gazing over the countryside or up at the stars. We loved Room 3 – historically used for entertaining, but now a big bright space with windows on three walls, a chaise longue by the fire and some intriguing/borderline sinister modern artwork.

Also

Owner Karin’s mother Mia is a talented masseuse and has a studio in the hotel – just ask if you fancy a massage. She also runs regular pilates and yoga classes each week.

Children

Stëlor is best suited to older kids or babies – the stairs are a toddler-hazard and there are breakables in cruising range. Room 6 on the top floor has an extra bed, and there’s space for a cot in rooms 3 and 5.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Stelor - Gotland - Sweden

Hotel Restaurant

The Stëlor Kitchen occupies what was once the pig house – and is now an atmospheric, art-lined dining room with a handful of wooden tables and an open kitchen. The menu is rooted in Swedish tradition, making the most of Gotlandic produce to create balanced, fresh-flavoured dishes such as smoked salmon, lobster, lamb shank and fabulous home-made soups. The hotel's resident wine expert Vegar –who formerly produced wines in the Florence and Chianti region – can help you choose a tip-top vintage.

Hotel Bar

There’s a counter lined with bar stools set along one side of the restaurant. Wines and whiskies are particularly well represented.

Last orders

In summer, the restaurant’s open all day until around 9pm (breakfast’s usually between 8am and 10am); out of season, mealtimes are arranged in consultation with guests, and breakfast can be served by the hearth in the cosy lounge.

Room service

You can arrange to have meals, snacks and drinks brought to your room – or to the hotel lounge until about 11pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Golfing gear, rambling attire, something fancier, you name it – no one’s keeping tabs.

Top table

In summer, you can sit outside and gaze out over the garden at the resident sheep. Otherwise, get as close to the kitchen as possible so you can spy on the chef.

Local Guide

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Hotel Stelor - Gotland - Sweden
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Other than the rather nice restaurant at Visby Golfkluub (a five-minute walk from Stëlor on the edge of the sea; www.visbygk.com) Västergarn isn’t well endowed with eateries; guests have to make the 20-minute trip into Visby to find Gotland’s gastronomic attractions. Bakfickan on Stora Torget offers diners the best of the Baltic, with a slender menu of fine Swedish fish dishes for lunch and dinner (+46 (0)498 271807; www.bakfickan-visby.nu). Also on Stora Torget, at the corner of the square, Bolaget is a good-value French-feel brasserie with a small menu of daily specials that’s great for lunch or a low-key dinner (www.bolaget.fr; +46 (0)498 215080). On Södra Kyrkogatan, G:a Masters is a smart and modern fine-dining joint with a cosy terrace and a loungey feel. As well as the usual fish, there’s usually a tasty rack of lamb on the menu, and excellent Swedish meatballs, and the barman knows his way around a cocktail shaker, too. There’s only a handful of tables, so be sure to book, (gamlamasters.se; +46 (0)498 216655). On the other side of the island, in the little village of Kräklingbo, Krakas Krog is, like Stëlor, a guesthouse with gourmet leanings, and serves a superb seasonal menu that makes the most of local produce, such as lamb, rabbit, fish and garden-grown veg. Go for the eight-course tasting menu to make the most of it (www.krakas.se; +46 (0)498 53062).

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Coastal Västergarn village

Hotel Stelor

Västergarn Stelor 117, , Västergarn, Gotland, 622 30

Hotel Stëlor is situated in Västergarn, a coastal village 20 minutes' drive from Visby, Gotland’s largest city.

Planes

Gotland’s airport in Visby, 20 minutes from Hotel Stëlor, links the island with the mainland, with regular flights to Stockholm Arlanda (about 45 minutes) and other destinations across Scandinavia (Oslo, Helsinki, Gothenburg and Malmö), as well as Berlin. Guests flying in from most cities around the world will need to catch a connection in Stockholm. Flights are fewer outside the summer season of June to September.

Automobiles

Although you can catch a bus into Visby from right outside the hotel, Gotland’s easily navigated and best explored by car. You can bring one on the ferry, or pick up a hire car from Avis (www.avis.com) in Visby.

Other

Destination Gotland (www.destinationgotland.se) operates regular ferries into Visby from Nynäshamn, which is an hour or so bus ride from Stockholm’s main bus station. The ferry takes about four hours, but has a restaurant, bar, cinema and kids’ playroom aboard to mollify the easily bored.

Reviews

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Hotel Stelor - Gotland - Sweden

Anonymous review

by Juliet Kinsman , On-the-go editor at Mr & Mrs Smith

‘Good Gotland!’ I declare this the exclamation for discovering wonderful places you never knew existed. It’s a rare treat in an era of having been there and done it, or at least seen it on the TV or the Web, to experience an extraordinary under-the-radar destination in the continent in which we live. How has Read more

Hotel Stelor

Anonymous review by Juliet Kinsman, On-the-go editor

‘Good Gotland!’ I declare this the exclamation for discovering wonderful places you never knew existed. It’s a rare treat in an era of having been there and done it, or at least seen it on the TV or the Web, to experience an extraordinary under-the-radar destination in the continent in which we live. How has Sweden’s largest island on the Baltic Sea managed to keep its holiday-perfect persona a secret from so much of the travelati? So it is when we landed at the airport by Visby, its mediaeval capital – we aren’t sure what to expect. We’ve been primed by those in the know how charming the island where filmmaker Ingmar Bergman spent his last four decades is – but what no brochure or friend’s gushing conveys is just how wonderfully unfettered by tourism Gotland is.

July: even in high season there’s barely anyone else on the flat, well-signposted roads as we head south along the west coast. We pass leafy green trees, livestock-speckled fields, millpond-still waters off the pebbly and sandy coast – nature in all its northern European glory. Traces of Gotland’s Middle Ages heritage poke through via rocket-like Gothic churches and cute clapboard and chalky whitewashed farmhouses punctuated by white signs for loppis sales (from loppa, meaning ‘flea’ in Swedish).

Twenty minutes’ drive from Visby, we arrive at our intended two-acre plot of woodland, a few minutes from the beach. There’s nothing glitzy to lure us into the six-room hotel, just a cluster of lovingly restored farmhouses and barns on the main road. Wandering into what looks a charming café, a pretty blonde behind a long bar counter smiles and welcomes us to Hotel Stelor. A few shelves of hand-picked Swedish homewares and stylish children’s books act as hotel giftshop; beyond this, under the hatch to the kitchen, plates of very tempting salads ensure we’ll be staying for supper.

Check-in is relaxed: the mention of our booking elicits a key and more warm welcomes. A deck out back with dainty antique white metal tables and chairs looks ideal for late-afternoon tea; our daughter is swiftly diverted to the typical grey Gotland lambs in a huge pen just beyond. As I pour some fragrant rose-infused tea, she plies the super-soft sheep with leafy snacks. I ask Tin, our handsome young waiter what’s on the menu for dinner. It’s the Sunday-night barbecue. Lamb. (Cuddly and, as we soon discover, also outrageously succulent – sorry, guys.) Locals flock here to pile their plates a few times over with juicy watermelon-and-feta salad and to ‘skol!’ each other with a Wisby Pils.

Light as it is until late, this Scandinavian air is so fresh and oxygen-rich, its soporific effect nudges us over to the neighbouring farmhouse and up the wooden hill to our bedroom early. Blue-and-white floral duvet covers, mid-century chairs, curios such as a vintage draftsman’s board and retro books. We were almost grateful that there were no TVs to jar with this wholesome scenario. Old-fashioned quality holiday time – just what the doc had ordered. We fall asleep with our books listening to sheep baa-a-a outside.

Agriculture is still a big part of the island’s activity, so it seems suitable we make like farmers and get up bright and early. Although as we arrive at breakfast it seems we’re the only ones – even with many of the other guests families too. Still, we’ve only got a few days to explore all of this 106-mile-long island. Loaded up on nutty muesli, smoked hams on fresh bread and caffeine-rich filter coffee, we are as strong as Vikings. And almost as intrepid – thanks to owner Karin taking time to speak with all her guests to help them plan the most of their time here.

Instead of boring you with the chronologically accurate minutiae of our schedule: here’s a cheat-sheet of our highlights… Visby is the capital. It’s how you imagine Walt Disney’s fairytale towns would be if you banned neon, MDF, plastic, and had actual craftsmen build them using traditional materials. Think terracotta-tiled rooftops, ruins of old stone churches, winding cobblestone alleyways, half-timbered houses now boutiques… But it’s not all olde-worlde cuteness: we emerge harbourside and discover that, even though it is only the afternoon, an open-air club is in full swing. An army of handsome blond men and women is punching the air to booming basslines and the occasional deafening spray of dry ice.

Another day we make it up north and catch the car ferry to the smaller island of Fårö – pronounced Four-er. Ridiculously filmic, from the manmade to the nature finessed. The first place we hit on the main road is the Ingmar Bergman centre – back home, chances are your first encounter would be a Wild Bean Café or post office peddling Happy Shopper grocery goods. Not here in Gotland, where almost everything is independently owned and easy on the eye.

Now, it’s obligatory to queue for crêpes at Kutens Berens. Eating them in a yard surrounded by rusting Fifties cars, a phalanx of Smeg fridges and overlooked by a doll with no arms sat at the wheel of the wreck of a pick-up is a tableau that would be a Portland blogger’s Instagrammable dream. We strike our own poses next alongside the limestone-rock formations, ensuring our social media posts earn more Scandilusting from followers. Leva, with its interiors-magazine-dream homewares shop, horsechestnut-sheltered treehouses, kids’ art room and bakery-café is a Utopia that almost tips them over the edge. Truth is, nowhere we stop during the whole trip is anything less than edifying. Sure, the food can be eye-wateringly pricy for foreign-currency converters – but there’s less of a rub when everything is such high quality.

We even do that thing I usually make fun of – we eat at our hotel both nights. Sure, since there is WiFi we give in to the siren of technology but compromise by watching an Ingmar Bergman film on YouTube, The Passion of Anna, filmed in 1969 on Gotland. Decades on it is uncanny how the landscape and furnishings are so redolent of today’s pancake-flat terrain with tightly packed evergreens, diagonally wound fences, colourful hand-woven rugs, mid-century-modern bookshelves. The landscape, the people, the interiors are all so beautiful we only wish we could take this eye candy home with us. And we did. 1) Via Instagram – every inch of this pretty isle cries out to be captured in pixels. 2) With many houses opening their garages as loppis, or mini flea-markets, souvenirs are begging to be sifted through and bagged up to give your own home a little Swedish soul beyond Ikea’s creations. 3) And the true signature: a grey curly-wool Gotland sheepskin. (Sorry again, guys.) Still, you can be sure this flea-bitten family will be returning to Hotel Stelor to savour the real deal again soon.

 

The Guestbook

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