Unwind in a charming old monastery
TEXT: MALIN NORMAN | PHOTOS © VADSTENA KLOSTERHOTEL
The ever-so charming Vadstena Klosterhotel unites old and new. With a past as a glamorous palace and then later a monastery, it is now an excellent spa hotel. A place where you can switch off and relax – and perhaps even find yourself somewhat.
During the first half of the 14th century, Vadstena Castle housed royal parties so glamorous they were the envy of Europe’s entire aristocracy. In 1350, Saint Bridget of Sweden took the palace and transformed it into a monastery, a stronghold for quiet, Spartan living.
These days, Vadstena Klosterhotel is still a meeting place just like in the old times, for work and parties, and also a sanctuary for relaxation and inner peace. The hotel offers comfortable accommodation, a peaceful spa and an excellent restaurant, plus stunning surroundings for every opportunity to unwind.
Embrace the inner journey
Thanks to Saint Bridget, the patron saint of Europe, Vadstena is an important pilgrimage site and you can, in fact, take a pilgrimage all the way from here to Rome. The spa concept at Vadstena Klosterhotel is based on that pilgrimage heritage and follows a number of key values such as simplicity and restraint.
Spa manager Sofia Lindholm emphasises Vadstena’s heritage and the importance of inner peace. “The spa world is packed with trends and pressure on how we should look and feel. Instead, we want our spa to reflect our history as a monastery and we offer activities that fit with our past.”
In line with its core values, there are no magazines or advertising with the latest updates on health trends in the spa. As expressed by Lindholm, “we certainly don’t want our guests to be overloaded with and feel any kind of pressure due to current trends. It should be about human values and tranquillity and we make sure to embrace our peaceful setting, working with nature and appreciating our wish as humans to find our way home.”
Take the time for treatments
In the spa, both day guests and those who are staying at the hotel can enjoy the salt water pool, warm spring, Jacuzzi, Finnish sauna, steam room with aromatherapy, treatment room, resting room as well as the café and bar. The spa only opened a few years ago but has already won two titles from the annual Spa Awards: Best Spa Kitchen and Best Newcomer.
One of the most popular spa rituals is a head-to-toe treatment with elements of everything from aromatherapy, hot baths, mindfulness and yoga with essential oils and the spa’s own sauna honey. The idea of being steeped in the monastery heritage is a crucial aspect of the ritual. A herb garden on the grounds boasts herbs and medicinal plants cultivated by, among others, Johan Päterson, Sweden’s first known gardener and one of Saint Bridget’s squires in Rome.
Lindholm also explains that in an effort to provide a stress-free environment for its guests, the spa no longer focuses on short treatments. “Our treatments are a minimum of 45 minutes now, as we believe in the need to slow down. And we really want our guests to actually gain something from the treatments.”
Enjoy the good things in life
The hotel’s own restaurant uses local produce and herbs from the garden in its cooking, and wedding guests like to gather for a toast in the picturesque, fragrant setting. At the less Spartan, more extravagant end of the spectrum is the well-stocked wine cellar of 4,000 bottles and the breakfast experience in the 13th-century former palace vaults.
“It’s important to have rest and relaxation of course, but also to enjoy the good things in life,” smiles Lindholm. “Our guests appreciate the peaceful setting and the opportunities for pleasure.”