Discover first hand the secrets to Scandinavian living, with a new initiative that pairs design-centric stays with a personalised roster of activities, from whisky tasting to workshop visits
A holiday seems more meaningful when it makes a deep imprint on the psyche, rather than just brushing the surface. This is something that travel marketeers know well, and the ‘experiential’ break has emerged as a result, as travellers seek to immerse themselves more fully in the nature and culture of a destination.
Some hotels might offer a tokenistic tour around a neighbourhood food market or a spa treatment that uses local ingredients, but that’s nothing compared with one enterprising group of Scandinavian businesses. They’ve banded together to create Live the Scandi Life, an initiative where guests can not only stay at some perfectly designed accommodation in Sweden and Denmark, but meet artisans galore including silversmiths, weavers and whisky distillers, and taste the very best local produce. Consider yourself practically a native by the time you leave.
The trio of accommodation consists of Ett Hem, the Ilse Crawford-designed Stockholm hotel that’s become a byword for modern Scandinavian chic; Hotel The Monica, the homely bolthole of hotelier Monica Konradsen on the Danish island of Ærø; and The Apartment Residence in Copenhagen (pictured above), a two-bedroom pad in the Christianshavn neighbourhood of the old city.
The Apartment Residence is the work of Tina Seidenfaden Busck and it sits above The Apartment, her gallery of 20th-century and contemporary design. The gallery is styled as if it were a home, so The Apartment Residence was a natural extension of the same concept: a place where people can actually stay, rather than a shop that they might imagine themselves living in.
Seidenfaden Busck’s aesthetic is about clashing colour and pattern, starting with the walls, which are painted or papered in vivid shades. There’s an eclectic cherry-picking of styles, with African textiles and American quilts mixing with Memphis lighting and Scandinavian furniture – all encased in an envelope of the stripped timber floorboards and half-panelled walls of the 18th-century building.
You will be hosted as if you are friends of the house you stay in, and you will get to meet friends of the owners – designers, artists, chefs – who have opened up their doors to give you access to them in a more personable manner
“You tailor a stay completely, and form your own memories,” explains Inge Backhausen Farina, who runs The Apartment Residence on a day-to-day basis and is the mastermind behind Live The Scandi Life. “It will be extremely personal,” she says of the package of experiences she has put together. “You will be hosted as if you are friends of the house you stay in, and you will get to meet friends of the owners – designers, artists, chefs – who have opened up their doors to give you access to them in a more personable manner, allowing you one-to-one time with them.”
Backhausen Farina says she is “passionate about collaborating” and that’s what has driven her to launch Live the Scandi Life. “I believe many good things come from working together with other like-minded people and brands, helping each other.”
Optional activities for Stockholm include visits to the workshops of silversmith Sebastian Schildt and fourth-generation rattan-furniture maker Erica Larsson, while Copenhagen’s agenda features a smørrebrød lunch at Aamanns 1921 – the open sandwich elevated to very stylish status – and a private canal tour on a wooden boat built for the Danish royal family in 1828.
While travellers might already be well-versed in the charms of Stockholm or Copenhagen, Ærø will probably be a new one. Backhausen Farina describes it as “a true treasure island”: known for quaint streets of colourful houses as well as unspoilt nature, it’s home to diverse artists and craftspeople who have escaped to this rural outpost to live in a slower, more sustainable way.
They include Dorthe Rejkjær, maker of hand-loomed textiles, who Backhausen Farina says “will pick you up in her vintage car and take you along the scenic route to her home and workshop, which she opens up specifically for you”; Ærø Cigar, Denmark’s only cigar manufacturer; and distiller Ærø Whisky. A foraging session (with the spoils subsequently cooked up in Monica’s kitchen, back at the hotel) is also on offer.
Among all these riches, where would Backhausen Farina source the perfect souvenir? “The Apartment gallery store or Monica’s little shop within her hotel: two places where you can buy carefully chosen items to add to your own homes,” she suggests. “Or have Dorthe Rejkjær take your measurements and weave a special garment according to your style, colour choice and fit. So personal.”