Luxury Hotels


One of the many benefits about cruising on a quality ship that is not one of those ‘monstrosities of floating apartment blocks’, the ships that can take 6,000 passengers at a time, is that, on a smaller ship, fewer passengers have to be escorted on tours.  This was apparent when SS Splendor docked at Gotland, the largest Swedish island that is known to some for its appearance on maritime weather forecasts. The main Gotland island is 172km long by 52km wide and it has 800km of coastline.

Oh there’s so much history here! In 1999, On 16 July 1999, a television crew was researching illegal treasure hunting on the island when the world’s largest Viking silver treasure, the Spillings Hoard, was discovered (67kg of priceless coins and the farmer who owned the land got the finder’s fee of $308,000).

About a third of today’s total 61,00 population live in Visby, or Wisby. This is an absolutely idyllic town,  surrounded by a tall stone wall with tower gatehouses that dates to the 11th century. Inside the wall is a spider’s web of narrow cobbled streets and tightly-packed houses – see above. Girlahead was enthralled just walking around.

Along Adelsgatan street, for instance, were fascinating boutiques, sometimes jumbled in with healthy-food cafés. Fashion to buy, it seems, features natural fabrics, one-size-fits-all clothes sole by jovial youngsters. At Adelsgatan 11 is a gorgeous 17-bedroom inn, HOTELL VILLA BORGEN. It’s an historic two-floor house, right on the main street, with extensions behind. The interiors of the public areas have simply been painted in white (floorboards) and palest grey (everything else). Reception, immediately inside the front door, to the left, is like entering a consultant’s studio, with books and plants. The other downstairs room, with the original ceiling-high china stove in one corner, is the breakfast parlour. White marble-look tables, bentwood chairs, piles of blue and white floral  Porsgrund china, cutlery in metal pots. Help yourself. Enjoy yourself.

Walk a few metres to a bookshop (Scandinavia has the world’s best), or to one of the many icecream places, or visit yet another centuries-old church. Honestly, Visby is fairytale.