B&B near Hjo, Sweden

By Clay Simon
This item appears on page 27 of the January 2013 issue.

My wife, Jan, and I and our 12-year-old granddaughter, Paige, traveled independently in Scandinavia for a month in summer 2012. We made advance reservations in only three cities (Oslo, Göteborg and Bergen), where accommodations were reported to be tight and expensive.

Otherwise, wherever we found ourselves in mid afternoon, we sought out a B&B, farmstay or camping cabin that offered linens, or occasionally a smaller hotel. Local chambers of commerce, our trusty iPad and a GPS with a new Scandinavian chip offered numerous choices to investigate.

In our peregrination through southern Sweden, we stumbled across the small town of Hjo (pronounced “you,” with the tourist slogan “I love Hjo”) on the western middle shore of Lake Vättern.

Just one kilometer south of town we discovered a delightful B&B, an excellently rebuilt 2-story horse barn, Röda Stallet Bed & Breakfast (Fågelås-Spakas 4, S-544 94 Hjo, Sweden; phone 0046 [0] 503 121 12). We booked the next-to-last room for two nights, Aug. 1 and 2, for SK750 (near $114) per night.

Röda Stallet has 12 double rooms on the first level, each with a private bathroom and a large porch overlooking a pasture leading to the lake. On the second floor is a huge common living room with fridge, microwave and TV. (A TV in your room costs extra.)

Each morning, the manager and daughter of the owner, Annika Karlberg, laid out a sumptuous Swedish-style buffet breakfast. She even offered fishing advice and paraphernalia to that consummate fishing addict, our granddaughter, for whom we later had to buy a collapsible fishing pole. Bicycles could be rented for short rides into town or touring the countryside.

Often seen strolling with her two large dogs, Annika was helpful in pointing out places to visit when we continued on.

Hjo has a a well-maintained central park with magnificent large trees. There weren’t many tourists in this lively town. Its downtown invited our strolling around.

A note about having chip-and-PIN cards in Scandinavia — while businesses in most larger cities could process the older, magnetic-strip credit and debit cards, many smaller gas stations and stores in rural areas could not. Yes, there were ATMs, but we disliked carrying lots of cash (though it was sometimes necessary in view of the high cost of travel in Norway and Sweden). I recommend obtaining a chip-and-PIN card if it becomes available from your bank in the US.

Mosier, OR