Did you know that the most beautiful man in the world used to live at Läckö Castle?
Yes, it’s true – at least in the 17th century. Count Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie was the world’s sexiest man in the 1600s. According to the women, he had it all: charm, looks, sensitivity, rhythm and anunusually high level of emotional intelligence. And this was well-known, even outside Sweden…
Läckö Castle in Lidköping is a proper fairy-tale castle with its beautiful round towers that look like meringues, right by the shore of Lake Vänern. The castle is surprisingly large with its 248 well-preserved rooms; you mustn’t miss the guided tour of the building. I certainly didn’t want to miss the castle garden immediately outside the dramatic walls. In the garden grow organic vegetables and row upon row of delicious lettuce, alongside colourful flowerbeds. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen vegetables of this size, including beetroot and onions the size of pomegranates! A walk in this garden is a true pleasure!
Heavenly castle dinner in beautiful surroundings
Once harvested, the many vegetables are served at Restaurant Hvita Hjorten, next to the newly built Victoria House. Both in the garden and at Hvita Hjorten the work is carried out with love and passion – the staff practically glow with enthusiasm!
The restaurant serves simple, rustic food made from top quality ingredients; crispy roasted vegetables, tender venison that falls apart and melts in the mouth. This is real happiness!
Locally produced beer from Qvänum Mat & Malt, flavoursome heavy red wine and wax candles… mmm (looking heavenwards… ;), and even more enjoyable in the romantic silence generated by the castle walls. Definitely one of my best dinner experiences ever! Everyone around the table was completely agreed on this. There we were, enjoying ourselves inside the moonlit Läckö Castle, listening to the wind blowing outside and the crackling of the open fire. Life did feel quite good at this point!
After a good night’s sleep in Victoria House, we jumped on our bikes and pedalled past farms and wooded areas to Lake Vänern’s biggest fishing harbour – Spiken. Apart from Kalix, this is the only place in Sweden were they produce bleak roe – so we simply had to sample these deliciously salty golden nuggets for lunch at Restaurant Sjöboden. Yum!
Small scale beer paradise
After lunch we cycled back to Victoria House, where we took the opportunity to visit the exhibition about Lake Vänern and Djurön National Park before leaving. It took an hour by car to reach the organic micro-brewery Qvänum Mat & Malt. Here, we met Claes Wernersson who runs the brewery together with his wife, Annica.
Only the highest quality is good enough for this couple who first thought of starting a micro-brewery when they got fed up with drinking beer that wasn’t good enough! Claes and Annica launched their business, and Claes now holds the impressive title Food Country Ambassador. Today, the beer they produce is available at a number of restaurants in different parts of Sweden.
We tried everything from dark porter – which goes very well with oysters – to light fruity ales. The beer is served in beautiful glass bottles, in old-fashioned and traditional style, and each variety has its own history; their first beer, McBrian, was inspired by their good neighbour, a beer-loving Englishman. Understandably, he liked the idea of having a brewery and a pub within a stone’s throw of his home, and followed the development with great enthusiasm.
The ghost at Bjertorp Castle…
If you’d like to spend the night nearby, why not follow our example and drive another 15 minutes to Bjertorp Castle – easy-peasy!
Bjertorp Castle is Sweden’s youngest castle in Jugend style, designed in 1914 by the great architect of this time, Ferdinand Boberg.
On entering the castle you are faced with a dramatic wooden staircase, a large lounge with original furniture from the time when the castle was built and large windows overlooking the garden and the fountain outside. Behind the trees you can just make out the golf course.
The castle has 35 rooms, furnished in modern Art Noveau style, where old meets new. All the rooms have their own history and unique interior.
Sleeping at a castle feels very special, and I felt like a princess at the rustic table in the dining room, complete with heavy velvet curtains, ceiling roses and chandeliers. We enjoyed another delicious dinner and rounded off the evening with a long game of billiards in the lounge and an even longer chat by the fireplace, where we discussed whether the castle is haunted? The staff claim that a female ghost walks around the castle in the early mornings – and sometimes closes doors to certain rooms – scary!
Thankfully, this is just a story, designed to entertain the guests… or is it?
Text & illustration: Emelie Persson