Five Best: Nordic summer retreats
You can really get away from it all at these idyllic spots
Set in an ancient forest overlooking the remote Lake Salahmijarvi in Finland's lake district, Harjulanpirtti Lodge was built in 1997. Big enough to sleep up to 12, the lodge has a modern kitchen, open-plan lounge and sauna downstairs. Upstairs there are three bedrooms and a balcony with breathtaking views. There is a wood-burning sauna on the lake's shore, as well as a rowing boat. Brown bears and foxes can be seen.
Harjulanpirtti Lodge, Nissilantie 185, Vierema, Northern Savonia, Finland (00 358 40 705 0428; www.sininenhelmi.com ). Black Tomato (020-7610 9008; www.blacktomato.co.uk ) offers seven-day breaks at Harjulanpirtti from €1,184 per person, including car hire and flights.
Hotel Budir, Iceland
As unspoilt locations go, this couldn't be more awe-inspiring. A two-hour drive from Reykjavik, Budir sits on Iceland's stark Snaefellsnes Peninsula, surrounded by the icy Atlantic, brooding ice-capped mountains and slate-black lava fields. Neighbours extend to seals and a solitary church, but little else. It's little wonder Jules Verne set his Journey to the Centre of the Earth here. The decor of the 28 rooms and public areas is Nordic-chic with muted, masculine tones, framed antique prints, deep armchairs and shelves of books. The restaurant, which pioneered modern Icelandic cuisine, has tables in full view of the Snaefell glacier. As per legend, the elves, says the owner, are also out there.
Hotel Budir, 365 Snaefellsbae, Iceland (00 354 435 6700; www.hotelbudir.is ). Doubles start at ISK18,300 (€222), with breakfast.
Engo Gard, Norway
For an island fit for a queen, head to Tjome at the southern tip of Norway. The scenery (steep wooded hills plunging into clear blue sea) is favoured by the Norwegian royal family, who have a summer house here. An idyllic shoreline hotel and restaurant, Engo Gard was built in 1845 by a family of captains and ship owners as a farmhouse. Under new ownership, rooms were let out from the mid-1920s. Refurbished for the 21st century, the hotel's 24 brightly decorated rooms are collected in several small houses, with the swimming pool housed in the old barn. There is also a highly rated restaurant – where fresh seafood predominates – and a wine cellar with some 2,500 bottles.
Engo Gard Hotel and Restaurant, Gamle Engo vei 25, Tjome, Norway (00 47 3339 0048; www.engo.no/english ). Doubles start at Nkr1,950 (€244) including breakfast.
Sonderho Kro, Denmark
Since the thatched Sonderho Kro hotel opened in 1722, nine generations of a local family have run it. It sits among sand dunes on the southernmost tip of the island of Fano, one of a string of Danish islands that dangle off the coast of Jutland in the North Sea. The hotel is well known for its smoked specialities from its smoke oven, kryddersnaps (schnapps made from a family recipe) and a lovely nature garden to drink it in. Some of the 14 gabled rooms, complete with cheerful, floral decor, have views over marshes to the Wadden Sea, a wildlife haven where more than 10 million migratory birds stop over.
Sonderho Kro, Kropladsen 11, Sonderho, Fano, Denmark (00 45 7516 4009; www.relaischateaux.com ). Doubles start at Dkr1,370 (€183), including breakfast.
Sands Hotell, Sweden
From Stockholm it's just a two-hour ferry ride to Sandon Island on the easternmost edge of the capital's archipelago, yet it feels a world away. Think long, sandy beaches (hence the name), brick-red and ochre-painted cottages and winding paths through blueberry bushes. Sands Hotel is in Sandhamn village, a glamorous sailing spot but old-fashioned with it. Sybarites can head to the "relax department" with its pool and sauna, while outdoor types could opt for a seal safari or just sit by the docks.
Sands Hotell, Sandhamn, Sandon Island, Sweden (00 468 5715 3020; www.sandshotell.se ). Doubles start at Skr1,850 (€200) including breakfast.