The Next Great Wellness Retreat Is a Floating Hotel in Northern Sweden

Arctic Bath is a 12-room spa on Lapland Sweden's Lule River

The Next Great Wellness Retreat Is a Floating Hotel in Northern Sweden

The New Yorker recently covered a growing movement in Britain called “wild swimming.” Buoyed by the aquatic adventures of writers like Roger Deakin and Kate Rew, the British are increasingly seeking out swims in the United Kingdom’s 40,000-plus lakes — particularly during winter.

The restorative effects of cold water immersion are well-documented at this point. From ice baths to plunge pools to Scottish showers, the practice has near magical benefits for the body. It catalyzes post-workout recovery, staves off injury, lowers blood pressure, increase metabolic rate and stimulates the immune system. Wild swimming Brits are taking advantage of those physical positives, sure, but what keeps them coming back, arguably, is what jumping in a cold creek does for the brain.

There is mindfulness in freezing your butt off, believe it or not. You’re outside in nature, for starters, which we know does wonders for mental health. And cold water encourages the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine and serotonin, all of which have anti-depressive effects. Not to mention, absentmindedly frolicking in a lake counts as play, and adults don’t play nearly enough. In America, some doctors have even pegged the lack of play a public health issue.

The Brits’ favorite new pastime is one the famously happy of Scandinavia have vibed to for a little while now, where skinny-dips in chilly rivers (sometimes after leaving the clubs, when the midnight sun’s high in the sky), and a lifetime spent in and out of steam rooms and saunas is a regional right. That love of swimming hole-hopping is directly in line with the Nordic nations’ penchant for sustainability and has found yet more crossover in the wellness travel boom, as Denmark, Norway and Sweden have spent big in recent years on retreats that combine all the above.

The latest is Arctic Bath, a 12-room spa built over the past 16 months on Lapland Sweden’s Lule River, which features six cabins on land, six that float on the frozen river, and a beaver’s nest-esque structure at the center of it all, which includes saunas, hot baths and, yes, an icy plunge pool.

Officially open as of January 15th, Arctic Bath is a perfect, if unexpected, pilgrimage for your next wellness retreat. It doesn’t claim the world-renowned microclimate of a Portugal or a Costa Rica, where operators are building yoga-surf camps, but perhaps in spite of that, the creators at Arctic are well-quipped for full-body fitness immersion.

The team prioritizes nutrition, regular exercise, peace of mind and care of the face and skin, and they’ll make damn sure you take advantage of all four while you’re there, with massages and hands-on fitness consultation, food foraged from 40 kilometers or closer (without traces of pesticides or antibiotics), mineral-rich skin products, and time spent in the open-air cold bath. Head in at night and you’re likely to catch a glimpse of aurora borealis. (Or watch the sky from your bed — the cabins all have glass ceilings).

For Americans, Brits eager for more cold swims, and anyone else looking for a wellness binge — head here. The hotel is now accepting bookings, and spots for 2020 are expected to go fast.


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