by David Drake


Feel good, do good. These are the words that Yasuragi, the only Japanese spa resort hotel in Europe, seriously abides with.

My Yasuragi experience started when Kersti Olophsdotter, the hotel’s Projektledare Marknad, picked us up at the harbor. We rode a Waxholm boat that took us to the Stockholm archipelago.

Nestled on a hilltop, a good 30 minutes from the city, Yasuragi gives its guests the secluded retreat they crave while overlooking the archipelago and its nearly 30,000 islands.


Unique pathway to the hotel
Photo credit: Yasuragi website


It is best to come during the summer when the weather is toasty warm. Otherwise, it might be too cold and guests won’t be able to enjoy the various activities offered by the hotel.


Relaxing forest atmosphere
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


The hotel is surrounded by pine trees and lush of greenery. Combined with its zen like architecture, Yasuragi creates an atmosphere of sheer relaxation. Nature lovers will definitely not be able to resist this oasis of tranquility.


Take a walk inside the hotel’s Japanese garden
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Shades of yellow and green all around
Photo credit:Mike Hull,


Lush of greenery all around
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Upon entering, guests are given a Yukata, a Japanese cotton robe, to wear during the full duration of their stay, which literally and figuratively suggests to “come as you are”. They are also given a dry bathing suit to wear underneath.


Warm and inviting reception area
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


Minimalist hotel lobby with floor to ceilings wood furnishings
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Beautiful Japanese decorations
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


In order to learn the story behind this one of a kind hotel, I interviewed CEO Sunniva Fallan Röd from Norway in their Manga animation room. She used to work for Stockholm Lydmar hotel where she got to experience new things,  from being a DJ in the elevator where you can pick your own music to working at the front desk at one point. Her father worked in hospitality so she grew up in the business.


The hotel’s animated and bright Manga room
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


According to Sunniva, a Norwegian investor Petter Stordalen bought Yasuragi in 2006. Sunniva described Stordalen as a rockstar, who is very much into sustainability.  

Stordalen currently owns 200 choice hotels in Nordic countries. His firm, Home Properties, has 10 more unique hotels like Yasuragi.

Yasuragi uses plastic bottles to carry water instead of disposable paper cups which they used in the past. It  manufactures sustainable cotton  Yukata in India, and are now seeking reusable cloth options.


The hotel is highly into sustainability
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


Yasuragi also buys branded and sustainable fish for their restaurants. Admittedly, they said that sustainability is tough and difficult to adhere to.

The marketing, branding and press releases are done in-house. Yasuragi is  planning to market to the European Union soon.

The hotel has 25 conference rooms, and each room can accommodate  400 individuals. Japanese weddings are frequently done here.


Sophisticatedly designed conference areas
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Initially, Swedish LO union built it as a school back in the 1970s, designed by Japanese architect Yoji Kasajima. They were planning to turn it into a conference facility in 1996 but a consultant advised against it.

The bulk of the revenues comes from the conferences and the spa, which bring in guests daily.


Zen like furnitures all throughout the hotel
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


Relaxation and finding inner peace seem to be the central theme for the activities offered by the hotel. From massages, meditation, body and facial treatments to yoga and Do In / QiGong, guests will surely be able to de-stress and relax.


Guests can completely relax in the quiet lounge
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Repeat: meditate, sleep and relax
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


Another highlight of Yasuragi is its famed hot springs. In Japan, naturally made hot springs are called Onsens which plays a big part in the country’s tourism.


Layers and layers of hot springs
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Hot springs combined with nature result to sheer bliss
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


Dip and de-stress into the hot waters
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Before guests can bask in the soothing waters of the different hot springs and the other bathing facilities, they are asked to experience the traditional Japanese bath. It is a ritual where guests sit on the stool inside the ablution room and wash themselves. Guests need not worry since they will be taught exactly how the Japanese does it.


Guests are highly encouraged to participate with the Japanese bath ritual
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


There is also a 25 meter indoor pool where guests can swim laps. Beside it are lounge chairs and a teahouse.


Panoramic view of the pool
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Guests can swim laps, relax in the lounge chairs and teahouse
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


Children are welcome during the summertime simply because of the weather. The hotel prepared several activities for them and their families.


Children can enjoy activities like fish spa together with their families
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Compared to other accommodations, where parents tend to leave their children to babysitters, Yasuragi provides activities that highly encourage families to spend time together while having fun in the process.

Yasuragi has three restaurants: Tokyo Lounge Bar, Restaurant Tokyo and Restaurant Teppanyaki.  


Tokyo Restaurant offers modern Japanese cuisines
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


I had lunch at Restaurant Tokyo. It was deliciously prepared by Chef William Steen and supervised by the multi-talented Dan Jay Olsson.

Chef Steen made an amazing salmon with fish sauce and three flavor options of mayonnaise. The Japanese lemon Ponzu was crisp while the miso-custard had a tangy taste.  The sesame mayonnaise matched the sweetness of the Shiso pesto that was on top of the salmon.


Delicious fish salmon by Chef Steen
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Olsson is the restaurant manager. He was previously the chef and also acts as the sommelier.

He certainly made an impression, as he occasionally will roll up his sleeves and help out in the cooking. Olsson is certainly a young man who likes to learn and multitask.

For dinner, I ate at Restaurant Teppanyaki. Omakase chef’s choice was a sea of sushi, tempura and fruit. I didn’t like that the restaurant was situated in the basement since it was dark and windowless.


A variety of food options in Restaurant Teppanyaki
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


The hallways were beautifully designed. It had large windows that look out to the woods and gravestones, which gave you the sensation of being outside while still being inside. I would put this in my top 10 of enjoyable hallways in the world.


The hallways were stunning
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Even the hallways exudes serenity
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


Currently, the hotel has 191 rooms and it is undergoing complete renovations that will be finished by summer of 2017. All rooms are Japanese inspired sans the usual western plush amenities.

My room was on top of the treetop and had floor-to-ceiling windows. It had a gigantic terrace which provides unobstructed views of the Scandinavian sunrise and sunset, as well as the cruise ships which are monster in sizes and yet can pass by quietly.


Humongous ships pass by daily
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


Japanese are known for their minimalist designs, and this was very evident throughout the suite. There were limited paintings on the wall, which were capped clean and peaceful.

The TV was hidden from sight and stored in a plywood box with sliding doors. The closet was tiny and a full size mirror could be needed. There were also exposed birch tree throughout the suite which needed to be fixed.


Modern and Japanese furnishings and interiors
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


There were four bed pillows, two of which had Japanese designs in it. Soft delicious pillows. There were two twin beds which when combined together, makes it look bigger.


Clean and minimalist bed
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


The huge deck, although not very wide, allowed us to welcome and wave goodbye to old cruise ships that pass by throughout the day. There were sliding Japanese screens to cover the room from light in the evenings.


Room deck where you can watch ships go by, as well as wait for the sunrise and sunset
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


It was dead quiet in the room, except for birds singing in the background when you open the doors. There are also sounds coming from the air conditioner, which is actually not needed especially in Sweden.

The bathroom was square in shape and a Japanese wooden bathtub sits in the middle. The water outlets were delicately designed and almost invisible. It also had a traditional Japanese washroom.


Guests can experience Japanese ablution privately
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


The texts in the shampoo and conditioner bottles were very large and easy to read. However, they were in Swedish which might pose as a challenge to some. The conditioner was very good and worked very well. The towels were small and not very absorbent.


Simple and functional bathroom with a view of the outdoors
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


There was a movable shower with 178 show head outlets that had strong pressure. I am for luxury showers that have a built-in seat with shower heads being able to reach you. It was a comfortable shower but eventually, I took the stepping stool from the Japanese tub and put it in the middle of the shower.


Shower, less the unnecessary modern frills
Photo credit: Donna Smith, LDJ Capital


The shower did not have a door so I could see the floor-to-ceiling windows from the bathroom, and also every boat passing by alongside cruise ships. I was up at four in the morning to take my ritual shower and watch the sunrise as well as the ships passing by.

Overall, it was a very large bathroom with a completely separate toilet that was a walk-through so you can enter it from two different directions. The floors were heated and having a window in the shower with amazing views of the outside was truly magnificent.

In terms of service, it was quick and good. Everybody was attentive, accurate and precise. They were friendly and continually reached out to make sure you are comfortable without being obtrusive.

The hotel staff was always ready to be of service and reacted very quickly on requests. Mickey was at our disposal.


Mickey gave us excellent food recommendations
Photo credit: Mike Hull,


She served a private dinner on the roof deck and recommended what food to eat. We had the best breakfast.

It was the only time I ate eggs that were cooked 4 to 7 minutes which was warm, and rich bread with Kalles Kaviar – a delicious fish roe caviar that might be too salty for other persons’ palate.

I am definitely coming back to Yasuragi for another holistic experience. It was particularly nice to unwind and relax in the serene environment that only nature can provide.

I will visit during the summertime. I wouldn’t want the cold weather to restrict me from appreciating this unique hotel.



COMPANY Nordic Choice Hotels AS
ADDRESS Hamndalsvägen 6, Saltsjö-Boo

132 81 Saltsjö Boo, Sweden

TEL NO +46 08-747 64 00



David Drake is the Chairman of LDJ Capital, a multi-family office; Victoria Partners, a 300 family office network; LDJ Real Estate Group and  Drake Hospitality Group; and The Soho Loft Media Group with divisions Victoria Global Communications,Times Impact Publications, and The Soho Loft Conferences. Reach him directly at [email protected].



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