Though this Värdshus (Guest House) is open all year round, its seriously busy season is very short - just July - when Sweden takes its holidays. Everyone's back at work or school after the first weekend in August, worried that the days are getting shorter. At this latitude through August the sun doesn't set until about 9pm but its going down does get noticeably earlier day by day and - after 21st September - the nights are longer than the days. So August on the Swedish coast is quiet and quite a few facilities, some tours, events, shops, restaurants and even hotels are already closed.
The attraction of this archipelago of skerries - over 300 islands(95% uninhabited) off the Bohuslän coast of West Sweden is raw, natural beauty.
The Värdshus is on one of the largest outer islands and grew out of what were buildings used by the pilots who in days long past did their business with ships seeking passage through these dangerous islands and reefs. Not much need for such chaps in this age of GPS, sat-navs and on-board charts.
The main customers on Storö Väderöarna Island are boat-folk (of the sail or motor yacht kind) - up to 300 yachts can be moored round here on a good summer's day. Largely Swedish of course but as many Norwegians because the weather and the prices are so much better here than up North.
I mention this because the features of the Värdshus have obviously evolved to cater for this boaty market. So the hotel side of things, though tastefully "boutique" are basic. 6 mixed size bedrooms upstairs making use of two small showers and two small toilets downstairs. So, take some slippers and a dressing gown and hang on tight to the rails down the steep and creaky stairs on your way for a pee in the middle of the night.
On the other hand there are compensations. There are two log-fired hot-tubs overlooking the jetties in front of house (though these only get stoked at the height of the season or when you book your own soaking). There are separate and mixed saunas overlooking the sea and of course a bathing area so you can take a chilly sea plunge after your bastu boiling. If you ask nicely someone might lend you a rod to fish from shore. Or there's a fishing boat which can be hired to take you to fish mackerel or pick up crayfish which they'll boil for you on the jetty (again mostly a "main-season" or a specially booked feature).
And, absolutely gratis, there's a wonderful well-marked walk round the island which will take you an hour or so over the rugged rock'n'heather landscape. Stunning sea and skerry views. You can also climb steep (enclosed) stairs to the top of the pilot's lookout from which they used to keep a sharp eye open for passing trade - a real WOW of a view!
The restaurant offers a sensibly short but excellent menu. For lunch, as part of our overnight package I had the biggest prawn (open) sandwich you're ever likely to see. For dinner I had the exquisitely spiced mussel soup followed by a massive halibut steak with a sauce of smoked salmon, bacon and aquavit (?!). I had only one criticism - chef decorates and embellishes with the stems of snap peas - obviously his passion - not mine I'm afraid - far too bitter and not at all my kind of flavour. The breakfast buffet was extensive and excellent - from a range of yogurts and cereals to scrambled eggs and tasty bacon, from fresh fruits and home-made marmalade to sausages, hams and cheeses. Good strong Swedish coffee ad lib but as ever you'll be disappointed (if you're English) by the choice of infusions. No "builder's" tea here (good tip if you're English and in Sweden or Europe or the USA - take your ownPG pyramids).
Though mobile phone connections (but not 3G) are good, they do NOT provide wi-fi (Nowadays why on earth not?)
Unless you're cruising by on your yacht, this isn't the sort of place you'll just drop into. If you're touring by car you'll probably not even discover the island unless you've done good online research or bump into the information office in the tiny old fishing (now yachty) port of Fjällbacka. You'll then take a half-hour trip on a high speed motor boat to get here - and that can be quite an adventure in itself - the young Dutch kids in front of us thought they were on a funfair white-knuckle ride and threw their hands in the air and squealed every time we took off from the top of a wave.
Total cost for an overnight weekday package in August including a good lunch, two course dinner, breakfast buffet, sauna, accommodation and fast return motor-boat was nearly £200GBP (plus alcoholic beverages). So, not cheap - but quite an experience!
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