Matador Goods editor, MatadorU faculty, and photographer Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström goes behind the scenes on assignment to the TreeHotel in remote Harads, Sweden.

Owner Kent Lindvall and I had just gone looking for wild moose that had wandered close to the property earlier that morning. His wife Britta Lindvall happened to be cooking up lunch of wild moose meatballs with potatoes and lingonberry in the pensionat (guesthouse) while their daughter, Sofia, was clearing snow with a wooden brush from the narrow path, a five-minute walk through the woods from the tree rooms.

I was in Harads (Northern Sweden) on a writing assignment for and spent some time with the Lindvalls, getting a small glimpse into their everyday lives running the new and quite intriguing TreeHotel.


Brittas Pensionat

Guests first arrive through the historic Brittas Pensionat (built in 1931), walking past vintage brown suitcases, an antique Singer sewing machine, traditional Sámi wooden skis, and a life-sized porcelain doll in a 1930s nurse’s uniform, all flanking the hallway and its polished wood floors which lead directly into the dining area with its wood-burning fireplace.


Sofia Lindvall

Kent and Britta's daughter, Sofia, clears snow with a wooden brush from the narrow path, which traces a five-minute walk through the woods to the tree rooms.


Field Trip

While I was there, a couple dozen teenagers arrived on a sightseeing field trip. The four tree rooms are accessed via the wooded "€œVictoria"€ trail (inaugurated by Swedish crown princess Victoria), where encounters with moose, reindeer, hares, and foxes aren'€™t uncommon.


The Cabin

Built to integrate with nature without the felling of any trees, each room structure is built around and supported by nearby pine and spruce. The first room along the trail, called "The Cabin",€ is suspended by four tree trunks.


Inside the Cabin

The room sleeps two comfortably and is surrounded by wide windows on three sides that look out onto the Luleå River valley.


The Blue Cone

A few feet past the Cabin is the bright red, curiously named "€œBlue Cone"€ with its dyed split birch wood facade.


Inside the Blue Cone

The Blue Cone also offers the best views of all four rooms of the nearby river valley. This shot was taken at 12:36pm -- the sun never truly peaks during winter months in Swedish Lapland.


The MirrorCube

If I'd blinked, I might have missed the "MirrorCube", an impressive cubic structure camouflaged with mirrors on all sides, offering a 360° panoramic view from within, and accessible via a rope suspension bridge.


The MirrorCube

According to the TreeHotel, to prevent birds from colliding with the MirrorCube, an infrared film visible to birds only will be laminated into the glass panes.


Tree Sauna

Guests can hop into the steamy bastu (sauna), built to fit 12 people comfortably, in The Tree Sauna after a long day outdoors.


The Bird's Nest

Walking past the tree sauna, you’ll finally arrive at the circular “Bird’s Nest,” which looks like something out of Jurassic Park.


Entering the Bird's Nest

The nest is accessible only through a retractable ladder from underneath.


Kent Lindvall

Owner Kent showing me how to ascend and descend the room's retractable ladder.


Inside the Bird's Nest

Each room'€™s decor is unique, with light-colored wooden beds, white and/or pastel-colored sheets and furniture. Rooms include toilets and washbasins attached to water tanks filled daily; showers must be taken at the guesthouse.


Lunch of Moose Meatballs

Simple yet extremely flavorful, meals are usually whatever local specialties Britta Lindvall is serving for the night, such as slow-poached lax (salmon) with mushroom sauce and root vegetables, or wild moose served with almond potatoes and lingonberry sauce. Britta’s slow food is made from fresh and seasonal ingredients like organic reindeer, pheasants, and moose from the nearby village slaughterhouse, mushrooms, and berries. She works directly with a family of retirees in Harads who help find, pluck, and prepare the very elusive yet extremely delicious Åkerbär (Arctic raspberry - Rubus arcticus) from surrounding forests.


Breakfast at the Pensionat

A buffet breakfast included in the room rate comes with an assortment of crispy and soft breads, eggs, gravadlax (cured salmon), cold meats and pâtes, caviar, and bacon.


The Future of the TreeHotel

The TreeHotel has just installed its latest room -- a flying saucer aptly named "The UFO" -- and plans are in the works to build a service building specifically for TreeHotel guests with shared bathrooms, dressing areas, and saunas. Matador Network