The small, Swedish island of Hven is tucked in between the shores of Denmark and Southern Sweden, and even though it really is the tiniest island I have ever visited, it has been a gathering place for culture and relaxation for centuries. There’s a handful of hotels and guest houses scattered around the island, but if you’re looking for service and gastronomy, there’s only one place to go. I spent 24 hours at the family-owned Prästasvängens Konferenspensionat and here’s my review.
Two things set this island apart from many other islands; it’s only 4,5 kilometers long and it’s world-famous for its connection to the notorious astronomer Tycho Brahe, who lived and worked here during the end of the 16th Century. I was about to thoroughly explore both, as I ventured by ferry from Copenhagen to Hven on a hot summer day in July.
Only 360 people lives in Hven, but each summer tourists from all over the world flocks here to get a glimpse of that true Nordic summer feeling, for which the island (and the area in general) is so famous. On this particular day I was lucky to even get a seat on the ferry, as families with children and couples with bicycles filled up both lower and upper deck. But 1,5 hour after leaving the harbor of Copenhagen, we safely arrived at Hven.
I went with an overloaded bag pack to catch the bus, which would drop tourists off anywhere they wanted from early morning to late afternoon. But traveling by bus is not the most common way to get around the island, as most people bring their bicycles from home or rent them at one of the many bicycle stands. It’s almost as if you’re not a real tourists if you aren’t exploring the island by bicycle, but I still took my chances. However, if you do plan to visit the island without a bike, do note that there are no bus stops anywhere – you simply have to stop and wave at the chauffeur! Quite old-fashioned – and quite charming.
Relaxed atmosphere and great food
Temperatures had reached 30 degrees and I was in strong need of a cold drink when I finally arrived at Prästasvängens pensionat. Already upon arrival it was clear to me that I had approached a family-owned hotel. All generations work together here, and Maria – the daughter of the owner – takes care of everything from spa treatments to checking in new guests. She greeted me as I arrived and showed me to my room, which was located in the small, charming garden in the back of the hotel.
Prästasvängen is more of a pension than it’s a hotel, as all rooms are equipped with their own small kitchen. It’s perfect for families, who want the freedom to cook for themselves or eat at the well-reputed restaurant ‘Krogen i Kröken’. The ambience is very relaxed and you can sit in the garden with a book or order a glass of wine while enjoying the view on the front terrace. You shouldn’t expect luxurious settings and grand hotel lobbys on Hven, and why should you? It’s all about enjoying the beautiful nature while relaxing more than you would ever be able to at home. I certainly got the chance to gear down and put my mind on ‘vacation mode’, even though I was only here for 24 hours!
If you’re going to Hven make sure to book at table at the above-mentioned restaurant ‘Krogen i Kröken’ – even if you’re not a staying guest. I had the pleasure of enjoying a 3 course meal accompanied by a glass of ice cold Cava and it was nothing less than impeccable. Each course is rather small, so do order more than one if you’re hungry.
The restaurant is famous for its solid food made from fresh and local ingredients, and fresh fish can always be found on the menu. Beer lovers can enjoy the pensions own beer, Prästens Premium.
Exploring the island
After a good night’s sleep and a simple breakfast at the hotel (a very minimal selection of cold cuts and bread) it was time for a field trip around the island, or at least a part of it. I borrowed Maria’s bicycle and went by the Tycho Brahe Museum, which is simply inevitable when visiting Hven. History nerds will be intrigued by the exciting tales and monuments from the past and nature lovers will be stunned by the amazing landscapes on the island. Winding fields with grazing cattle, the blue ocean in the horizon and romantic cottages with peonies in the garden is simply the epitome of pastoral idyll and romance.
Thirsty visitors should pay attention to the many whiskey distilleries on Hven, producing premium quality single malt whisky. Unfortunately, I didn’t visit one of them, but go to www.visithven.dk for more information.
After 24 hours on Hven and Prästasvängens, my stay had come to an end. Outside season Hven isn’t the most exciting place to visit, but during summer it’s a haven for families and couples in need of relaxation and quality time. The minute you arrive to this tiny island – and to Prästasvängens – it’s as if time stops and you have traveled back in time! Something quite liberating in a time where everything constantly changes!
For more information about Prästasvängens Konferenspensionat go to www.prastasvangen.se.