Sustainable Stays: Kolarbyn Eco-lodge, Skinnskatteberg, Sweden

A wild forest on the shores of a pristine lake in Skinnskatteberg, just a two hour drive from Stockholm, is home to Sweden’s Kolarbyn Eco-lodge – also known as the country’s “most primitive hotel”.

Eco-lodging in its most natural state, Kolarbyn Eco-lodge is a collection of 12 small pyramid-like cabins with flat roofs, which blend in to its environment, nestled amongst pine, spruce and birch trees. Camouflaged well, each cabin is covered in mud and grass, and topped with a roof where bilberries and mushrooms grow wild.

In the most simplest of traditons, Kolarbyn Eco-lodge’s forest huts each have enough room for two beds and a fire place. Wooden beds insulated with layers of insulated airmats are covered with sheep skinrugs. Eco-glam it is not but if you want to experience simple living in harmony with nature, then Kolarbyn Eco-lodge is a natural adventure for adults and children.

The forest area surrounding Kolarbyn is home to moose, beavers, wolves and other wildlife, and visitors to the eco-lodge can participate in activities including hiking, canoeing, wild swimming, fishing and foraging

What are the huts doing there you may ask? There’s actually a history behind Kolarbyn, which was used as a site for charcoal burning for hundreds of years. Charcoal was used in the process of producing iron and steel, which was an important industry in Sweden for a long time. Swedish quality steel was exported all over the world, and the steel used in the construction of the Eiffel tower in Paris was made by Swedish steel from the forests of Kolarbyn.

When iron production was replaced with modern methods, the demand for charcoal reduced and today the knowledge of charcoaling is disappearing with the older generations. In Kolarbyn and the area around there are hundreds of remains of charcoal kilns, which testifies to the days when iron built up the Swedish economy.

At the site where Kolarbyn is located there has been several generations of huts throughout the centuries. Workers constructed rustic insulated huts to stay warm during winters. These huts were typically constructed by thin poles and covered by soil. They had a fire heated stove at one end and two or more berths where they could lay down and rest in-between their long working hours.

Kolarbyn Eco-lodge, as the site is today, was reestablished during the winter of 1996 as villagers from Skinnskatteberg decided to build a collection of traditional forest huts by the shore of lake Skärsjön, adding to the huts that were already there, in a bid to conserve charcoal culture for future generations.

Kolarbyn Eco-lodge has been welcoming visitors from Sweden and abroad since 2004. There is no electricity, running water nor shower facilities on site. Instead guests are encouraged to use a wood-burning stove for heating and candles for lighting; take a swim in the nearby lake to wash; fetch drinking water from a clear spring in the forest; and destress in a nearby floating sauna accessed only by boat or canoe.

Open over select months during the year, Kolarbyn Eco-lodge is a sustainable stay that is likely to appeal to more adventurous nature enthusiasts, and what’s more, a portion of the proceeds received by the Kolarbyn goes directly to the conservation of local nature and cultural.

Images source: Kolarbyn Eco-lodge Facebook page

Kolarbyn Eco-lodge

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at

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