The 72-Hour Swedish Cabin Experiment Is the Latest Scandi Wellness Trend

Attention Scandi style seekers: a recent study reveals the benefits of spending several days in Swedish nature.

Photo by: Maja Flink

Maja Flink

There are close-ups of vividly green trees, a still blue-gray lake and a meal around a robust campfire.

"Is it possible to reduce stress during 72 hours in Swedish nature?" asks Cecilia Stenfors, a postdoctoral researcher at the Karolinksa Institute, while narrating a promo for the 72-Hour Cabin project. Five test subjects were chosen to answer that question.

In 2017, as part of a tourism initiative to promote wellness in nature, Visit Sweden and the West Sweden Tourist Board launched the 72-Hour Cabin project on a remote Swedish island, where they performed a case study to demonstrate the health benefits of spending just 72 hours in nature.

Photo by: Magnus Klang

Magnus Klang

Wellness is an integral part of Scandinavian society, and many of its practices have been adopted by wellness-hungry cultures around the world. There’s hygge, pronounced hoo-guh, the Danish concept of creating a cozy environment, particularly in winter. Last year, trend arbiters declared the Swedish idea of lagom, pronounced la-gum, the new hygge, a way of thinking that can generally mean a balanced life, or everything in moderation, or a "just right" approach. Fika, pronounced fee-ka, is another key element of Swedish well-being. While some may be familiar with the eponymous Manhattan-based coffee chain, Fika is actually a way of life that calls for taking a break, or breaks, throughout the day, usually with coffee and a baked good.

But we’d be remiss to overlook nature while covering Scandinavian wellness approaches.

Dalsland in West Sweden is a sleepy place, a small province blanketed with unspoiled forests and ancient lakes — the perfect setting for communing with nature. To really escape, Henriksholm Island is a private retreat accessible only by boat, and populated by an 18-bedroom home for rent, along with five recently added glass cabins.

For the 72-Hour Cabin project, Visit Sweden and the West Sweden Tourist Board chose five people from abroad with stressful jobs, including a taxi driver from Paris, a police officer from Germany and a journalist from London.

For three days participants were left to their own devices, choosing to kayak, swim, fish, or simply read in their individual cabins along the lake. Jeanna Berger, whose parents own the island, designed the glass-enclosed cabins. True to Scandinavian minimalism, the five cabins were outfitted with a wooden platform bed and neutral bedding (participants were able to access a separate bathhouse facility). And lest anyone felt too enclosed, each cabin also featured doors that swung open.

Ben Fogle, a broadcaster from London, was one of the participants. "For lots of people, the wilderness can be a very scary place: the forest, the open ocean and open lake," he noted in the video. "But what I think what you have here in Sweden is a way of having comfortable wilderness."

Being a case study, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm monitored vitals regarding stress, and also measured creativity and problem-solving abilities. In general, the results showed stress levels declined by 70 percent; it also found blood pressure and heart rate had also decreased after three days. Unsurprisingly, creativity and problem solving increased, along with participants saying they felt more at one with nature.

But don’t worry about missing out on this experience. Visitors can book the same glass cabins through September 2018, although availability beyond that is uncertain at this point. Each cabin sleeps two, and the stay includes a welcome fika and all meals, whether in a separate building or al fresco. While the overall experience is glamping light, guests do have access to a sauna and the aforementioned bathroom facilities. A flashlight, eye mask and water bottle are also provided.

In addition to Henriksholm Island, similar experiences can be enjoyed at Dalslands Aktiviteter and Baldersnas Herrgard. The former can also arrange activities such as trail riding and gold panning, while the latter offers multi-course meals at its posh manor house.

Next Up

On Trend All the Time: Go Inside a Trend Spotter's Brain

Find out what it takes to predict the home design changes that will catch on with trend translator Nancy Fire.

The Best Neutral Christmas Decor Finds for $30 or Less

Deck the halls with these affordable (and adorable!) Christmas decorations.

A Scandi-Design Expert Shares Her Tips for Getting Scandinavian Style at Home

Niki Brantmark, blogger and author of The Scandinavian Home, shares tips on creating your own Scandinavian oasis.

HGTV Bought 'The Brady Bunch' House: Here's How We Would Restore It editors share trendy ways they would restore the iconic show's '70s design.

Matching an Addition to the Original

Learn how to ensure your addition doesn't look out of place with your existing home

Think Outside the Triangle

From work zones to Feng Shui, our experts weigh in on the latest trends in kitchen design.

Trending Now: The Bertoia Chair

It’s no accident that this timeless design recalls sculpture and even jewelry.

Trending Now: The Wassily Chair

What do you get when you cross a traditional club chair and a brand-new bicycle? One of the most iconic pieces in modern history.

Wayfair's New Storage + Organization Shop Is the Perfect Mix of Scandi-Farmhouse Style

Snag some stylish organizers that actually blend in with your decor.

A Remodel Where Design Is the Star

HGTV Design Star producer Brian Patrick Flynn reinvents his bonus room as a bold design studio.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.