There are two ways to arrive at Hamneskär, a small isle—no more than a rock—in the mouth of Sweden’s serpent head. Three miles off the coast, you can either land your helicopter on the Bohuslän shores or face the frigid air in a RIB boat. Named like a documentary, Pater Noster “A home on the horizon” is a boutique hotel—the only hotel—on the island, opened during the pandemic next to a 150-year-old lighthouse. It was an instant hit with Sweden’s elite, who were hungry for an escape from nearby Gothenburg or Stockholm. But recently American accents have been heard echoing here.
Blame Hollywood. In 2021, Oscar winners found a unique gift in their goodie bags: a free three-nights stay at Pater Noster. Glenn Close, Anthony Hopkins, and Gary Oldman have not yet visited, we are told, but the island is no longer the secret of Swedish executives.
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Don’t expect a scene from Southampton here, but don’t expect a Robinson Crusoe experience either. Pater Noster may have just nine rooms—priced at roughly $2,000 per night—but the hotel encourages its club of guests to socialize, to watch seals, and to bath together in the ice water.
The most popular group activity on the island is the “lobster safari”—a survival tradition reinvent into a hunt for “black gold.” For those who get seasick and want a more hands-on experience, you can opt to forage for seaweed with marine biologist and chef Johan Bernesteen. Spend the morning snorkeling with the knowledgeable chef and learn about the 11 varieties of seaweed surrounding the island (like grass kelp, bladderwrack, and sugar-kelp—used in the seaweed creams in the bathroom and also served at dinner). Later you’ll learn how to prepare them and experience flavors of white truffle and Piedmonte. For a bit of on the spot wellness, smear the seaweed on your face to reduce the early signs of aging.
Seaweed is served at lunch and dinner. But lobster, locally caught fish, and sweet desserts are also on the menu. One thing that isn’t is business talk (a struggle for the Americans). Dinner starts in the former lighthouse food cellar, which is now a wine cellar housing a good selection—from French champagne to Chardonnay from Oregon. Sample them with freshly shucked oysters from the bay.
Dinner continues in the restaurant (or outside if weather permitting), where all 12 guests gather around a communal table for a fabulous 5-courser.
Things only get more eccentrically Scandi from here.
Pater Noster is a passion project designed by four local entrepreneurs, all former sailors and fisherman. They gave the once abandoned island a home-away-from-home aesthetic. Each room has a unique design and public spaces are filled with vintage and antique furnishings.
But check out this only-in-Sweden spin on luxury: All rooms in the main house have communal bathrooms shared between four rooms. Only the “Old Bakery” bedroom has its own bathroom.
That certainly isn’t for everyone. But for a cadre of CEOs and tech entrepreneurs, and even Hollywood A-listers, it succeeds at striping away gadgets and timelines and injecting the small moments of daily life with joy. Sometimes that means sharing a bathroom and a shower with a stranger, gathering around a table for boiled coffee or chatting in the sauna.
Our only advice is brush up on your local Swedish hockey trivia (a hot topic here).
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