Vadstena Klosterhotel: A tranquil experience wrapped in history
By Emma Rodin | Photos: Vadstena Klosterhotel
Take a break from the tiresome duties of everyday life and visit Vadstena Klosterhotel in Sweden’s south. With a harmonious dose of culture, health and culinary experiences, this monastery-turned-spa-hotel is the ideal spot to rest and recharge – and perhaps to go on an inner-journey, too.
With a wide offering ranging from weekend packages to conferences and wedding arrangements, Vadstena Klosterhotel is a medieval gem that unites old and new. The thick walls, stone floors and high vaults that welcome guests hint at what life was once like here. “We owe it to history to preserve what has been,” says Sofia Lindholm, hotel and spa manager. “Our rich heritage can be sensed throughout the premises, combined with a high level of comfort and quality, too.”
Indeed, the town of Vadstena has a fascinating history. During the first half of the 14th century, Vadstena Castle housed royal parties so glamorous, they were the envy of Europe’s entire aristocracy. It was then, in 1350, when the patron saint of Europe, Saint Bridget, transformed the palace into a monastery – a stronghold for quiet, Spartan living.
Thanks to Saint Bridget, Vadstena became an important pilgrimage site and you can, in fact, take a historical pilgrimage all the way from here to Rome. The spa concept at Vadstena Klosterhotel is based on this pilgrimage legacy and follows several key values, such as simplicity and restraint.
Relaxation at the ready
Lindholm emphasises Vadstena’s past and the importance of harmony. “The spa world is filled to the brim with trends and ideas 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.
This is not a fashionable activity centre; it’s a place for contemplation and an inner journey.”
The spa strives to maintain a stress-free environment for all its guests. “We don’t want visitors to be overloaded with societal 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.”
The popular spa hotel has won several awards, including Best Luxury Getaway Spa Hotel Europe and Most Romantic History Hotel of Europe. The acclaimed spa is open for guests at the hotel and to anyone wanting to spend some time in the day spa, perhaps in combination with lunch or dinner. They can all enjoy the salt-water pool, warm spring, jacuzzi, herb sauna, steam room with aromatherapy, treatment room and resting room, as well as the on-site café and bar.
One of the most popular spa rituals is a head-to-toe treatment with elements from aromatherapy, including a luxurious, handmade, sugar body-scrub and the spa’s own sauna honey. The idea of being steeped in the monastery heritage is a crucial aspect of the ritual. This year, the spa has enhanced its concept further, with a new forest bath-themed room. Here, guests can soak up cleansing forest air and pop their feet into a mineral-filled bath after a long day’s pilgrimage.
Speaking of themed spaces, there’s more to come this autumn. For one, a dedicated washing space themed ‘Eau de Vie’, as well as a room bathed in sunlight – ideal on those dark winter days when energy is running low.
Wine and dine
After a day enjoying the spa, guests can wrap things up with a gastronomic experience in Vadstena Klosterhotel’s own restaurant, Munkklostret. “It’s important to have rest and relaxation of course, but also to enjoy the good things in life,” says Lindholm. “Our guests appreciate the peaceful setting and the opportunities for pleasure.”
In the restaurant, the talented team of chefs cook with seasonal produce and classic Swedish flavours – inspired by history, of course. Have a look at the menu and you might spot crayfish sourced from neighbouring lake Vättern, or wild mushrooms foraged in the surrounding forests. Taking the experience up a notch, there’s also the well-stocked wine cellar of 4,000 bottles, not to mention a selection of home-brewed beer.
Vadstena Castle previously housed one of the largest breweries of the Middle Ages. Now, the old tradition has resurfaced with the help of historians and in collaboration with Fors Bryggeri, and guests can try some of the historic brews. The range of beers includes Kung Valdemar IPA, Munkens Lager (unfiltered), Pax Vobiscum (historic lager), and Dotir, a raspberry beer named after the monastery’s own brewing lady during the Middle Ages. So, are you ready to wine, dine and unwind? The doors of Vadstena Klosterhotel are open.
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