A paper by ClosedCopy
Places with new perspectives
Casa na Terra, Portugal, Image by Nelson Garrido
The Arctic Hideaway, Norway, Image by Kathrine Sørgård
Text by Mirjana Bernstorf
We set off in search of special places around the world with unique architecture and interiors that open up new perspectives and views of the surrounding landscapes or which can even change your mindset. Join us on a whirlwind trip to see a wonderful hotel village in Norway, where the gaze is cleverly directed to won-derful views over Arctic islands. Or a hybrid concept in Brazil that promises to channel the gaze in the other direction, inside for complete mindfulness. As Martin Gruber, the architect of the Freiform guesthouse in Italy says: “It doesn’t take much to be happy. Just the courage to do it.”
Sacromonte, Uruguay, Image by Tali Kimelman
The Arctic Hideaway, Norway
This tiny hotel in the northern Arctic circle is the perfect refuge on the equally tiny island of Fleinvær. Surrounded by the small Arctic islands, ten mono-functional wooden houses sit on the rocks of the small archipelago, overlooking the rugged Arctic landscape. The idea for this unusual village came from the composer and jazz musician Håvard Lund. He wanted to create a sustainable place for artists, musicians and travellers. In essence, it is the world’s most beautiful working space. The resulting village is a place where you can connect with nature and well and truly unwind. As well as the four sleeping huts in the creative village, life revolves around the communal huts, such as the crab shack, the bath hut or the sauna. For a limited time every year, individual huts can be rented through Airbnb. The founder describes the spirit as follows: “You never know who you meet, just note that the level is deep, the sleep is long and the saunas life-extending.”
“I sat down on the construction site, on a summer day just after a thunderstorm. I leaned back, wrapped my arms around my knees.” This is how Martin Gruber poetically describes finding the spot for the sculptural guest-house which now occupies a very special place on his family’s or-ganic farm. The glass stand-alone building is a hybrid between a nature station and a holiday cottage, and its mood and sense of space changes constantly, depending on the weather. The geometrical building is naturally embedded in the mountainside, and its green roof makes it one with the surrounding landscape. Gruber’s design focuses almost entirely on three materials: exposed concrete, oak wood and local loden fabric. Despite the reduction and the clean design, South Tyrolean cosiness does not have to be renounced. The hosts fill the refrigerator with a marende (snack) and matching regional red or white wine. In addition, the 360-degree rotating fireplace crackles in the evening.
Casa na Terra, Portugal
The Casa na Terra near Monsaraz in the Alentejo region, resembles a concrete UFO, squatting in the long grass. Its purpose is to help guests become one with nature. Rough-cast concrete walls swoop around a central patio, the ceiling is pierced with round holes, and deliberate visual axes centre on the stunning view across Lake Alqueva. The complex was designed by the Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus. Over lunch, he offered to let his friends at Silent Living, an agency for Slow Travel Places, put this unusual house on their rental books. Now, you can reside here in this spectacular setting with family and friends and enjoy the starry night sky through the futuristic concrete ceiling.
Dois Trópicos Shop São Paulo, Brazil
The selfcare temple Dois Trópicos is devoted to celebrating a “homelike hosting experience”. The minimalist concept space includes a wellness area, a botanical shop, a restaurant and a yoga studio, and was founded by the visionary couple Carolina (chef) and Fernando (plant lover). The design for the holistic architecture project came from the interdisciplinary practice MNMA Studios. The furniture and all the floors are made of handcrafted clay tiles in a variety of colours, all produced by local craftsmen. The idea behind Dois Trópicos is to use design to engage with old and new practices that could be used to build a better world.
Sacromonte Landscape Hotel, Uruguay
The glass fronts of the Sacromonte Shelters reflect the clouds and vineyards of Uruguay, channelling them to create an ever-moving work of art. The architectural firm MAPA prefabricated 13 steel-framed bungalows in the capital Montevideo, 15 kilometres away, and set them down in the Sacromonte vineyards. With a view of the wide, rolling landscape, you can enjoy the regional wines, grown on French vines from Avignon, or book a weekend lunch with vegetables from the hotel’s own garden.
Transylvania, Romania, Image by Philip Vile
Eco Hotel Can Martí, Ibiza
Text by Mirjana Bernstorf
A mysterious rocky island, 13 chattering geese in ancient cloisters, a tarot garden and mystical tales of Icelandic elves. We set off in search of magical places and unusual places to stay – and discover places that glow with a special energy. Eyes open and senses at the ready! The world is full of magical places – and you don’t even have to go to the ends of the earth to find them. Join us as we add some magical moments to our lives…
Kleif Farm, Island
Barcelona, Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia
Possibly the best time to visit this magnificent Gothic cathedral is early in the morning, when the sunbeams tumble in through the high windows and the air is heavy with the scent of incense. Barcelona’s cathedral also has another, more unusual attraction: 13 geese, which waddle around the cloisters, gaggling excitedly. Legend has it that when the cathedral was being built in the 14th century, the geese prevented a theft with their hissing and screeching. The number 13 symbolises the age of Saint Eulalia when she was martyred by the Romans for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Oppo-sites attract, and if you’re in need of a refreshment after visiting the Gothic monument, may we suggest a break at Satan’s Coffee? The café, located in Hotel Casa Bonay, is reputed to serve the best coffee in the city.
Barcelona, Casa Bonay
Casa Bonay is the brainchild of a whole bunch of creative minds, who teamed up to design an eclectic space that is instantly engaging and radiates a cheerful energy. We guarantee that you’ll feel like you’re staying with friends. The neo-classicist building, which dates back to 1869, was reinterpreted by Studio Tack and furnished with umpteen plants and local designer furniture by Marc Morro of AOO. Casa Bonay’s two rooftop terraces are the perfect spots to lounge late into the night, sampling the great wines on the hotel’s natural wine menu.
Iceland, A stroll with elves
It is said that half of the inhabitants of Iceland believe in elves and trolls. These skittish little creatures are reputed to be most active in and around the harbour town of Hafnarfjörður. Numerous piles of lava rocks have been built to protect the mythical beings. In fact, as you immerse yourself in the magical landscapes of Iceland, crossing moss-covered plains and hiking past geysers and waterfalls, you’ll understand fully why fables play such a central role in Iceland’s culture and traditions. There’s even an elf school in Reykjavík, where you can graduate with a diploma. Should you feel in need of some sustenance after walking with the elves, we highly recommend booking a table at Matur Og Drykkur and treating your-self to cod head in chicken broth. Replete with Icelandic specialities, Kleif Farm – only 35 minutes from the restaurant – is the perfect place to rest your head for the night.
Iceland, Kleif Farm
One of the nicest places at Kleif Farm is the cosy sheepskins in front of the giant panorama window – the perfect place for a spot of relaxing meditation as you gaze out at the sheep and Icelandic ponies grazing on the endless grasslands. Enjoy the direct view of the stunning mountains as you immerse yourself in the wild, breathtaking Icelandic countryside. The Summerhouse was recently beautifully renovated and is now a luxurious hideaway for families and friends with space for up to 10 people. Make sure you drag yourself away from those sheepskins for long enough to soak in the hot tub!
Ibiza, Es Vedrà
Admittedly, the rocky islands of Es Vedrà and the smaller island of Es Vedranell off the west coast of Ibiza are no longer the insider tips they once were, but their rising popularity in no way detracts from their exceptional beauty. The rugged rocky outcrops jut up from the deep-blue Mediterranean, glowing in the evening sun. Two of the best spots from which to admire these unique nature reserves are Torre des Savinar and Cala d’Hort bay. You can also sail around the island – provided you’re not afraid of your compass needle going crazy, as the island is said to have an unusually strong magnetic field. Some even believe that it is part of the lost island of Atlantis or even a secret UFO base. After your outing, we recommend popping into the Ses Boques restaurant, which serves the most delicious fish in salt crust. Afterwards, head off north to Can Martí country hotel.
Ibiza, Finca Can Marti
The whitewashed finca nestles in the green Can Martí Valley, surrounded by pines and olive trees. Organic farming and tourism have been harmoniously combined in this eco hotel. The people behind the idea are the Brantschens, a Swiss couple who bought the old farmhouse in 1994 and gradually converted it into a charming eco hotel. The suites and casitas have been finished with all-natural materials and furnished in a rustic bohemian style. Guests can enjoy yoga sessions around the natural pool, dine on grilled summer veggies under the starry sky or enjoy the simple pleasure of petting the donkeys.
Tuscany, Il Giardino dei Tarocchi
The gigantic, absurd, and brightly coloured 22 tarot figures created by the artist Niki de Saint Phalle are scattered around the Giardino dei Tarocchi park in Tuscany. Made with mirror shards, glass, ceramic and mosaics, the sculptures – some of which are large enough to walk through – are an arresting group in a truly opulent setting.
To visit Transylvania is akin to travelling back in time. Central Romania is simply studded with Dracula curiosities, medieval towns and haunted castles. The region also boasts breathtaking wilderness, pristine nature and dense forests, home to more brown bears than anywhere else in Europe, as well as wolves and lynxes. For a perfect night in suitably historic surroundings, the lovingly restored guesthouses at Bethlen Estates are the ideal choice.
England, Hampton Court Maze
A stroll around the oldest hedge maze in Britain can soon turn into a lengthy and possibly perplexing undertaking. You may not find your way out of this historic maze, but you’ll enjoy every moment of trying to escape. While you’re there, you can soak up some Bridgerton flair: in the Netflix series, the queen resides at Hampton Court.
Time to learn something new
Transylvania, Romania, Image by Philip Vile
Eco Hotel Can Martí, Ibiza
Text by Mirjana Bernstorf
Learning something new can be an incredibly joyful experience. Particularly after months of bingeing on Netflix interspersed with long lockdown walks along the same trails. How about something truly unexpected and new? Like dyeing with indigo in Gothenburg, weeding a rooftop bed in Copenhagen or collecting wild herbs on a Greek island? The prospect of these workshops in these special places and broadening our horizons with creative experiences fills us with a thrill of anticipation. Most people would agree that if lockdown has had one effect, it’s a longing for authentic encounters and the opportunity to make something with their own hands – as a respite from the digital world. The pandemic has really made digitalisation take off, with the benefits including online tutorials on all kinds of subjects, from digital wine tasting sessions to online book clubs and meditation and yoga workshops. But despite the wealth of inspiring content, staring at a screen can get tiring. That’s why we cast out our nets and found some real-life suggestions for learning something new once lockdown ends. We’re not talking about upskilling to make you even more efficient at work, but about developing your mind and your senses. Perhaps there’s a new hobby waiting for you out there!
Kleif Farm, Island
Andros, Mèlisses Floral Design & Cooking Class
On the Greek island of Andros, spring brings a veritable explosion of wild flowers and herbs. The air is scented with the smell of thyme, the sea air and lemon blossom. It is the best possible time to explore the island with the floral designer Taylor Patterson from Brooklyn and learn the basics of making bouquets. Every year, the charming guesthouse Mèlisses offers exclusive gatherings and retreat workshops with creative hosts from all around the world. It even has a dedicated workshop manager. Italian native Allegra Pomilio has organised workshops with the French food blogger Mimi Thorisson and studied at the Alain Ducasse Academy. She is an expert at creating relaxed, inviting settings that transcend the ordinary. In her cookery classes she shows how to incorporate herbs and wild flowers in tasty dishes. The stone house overlooking Paleopoli Bay is the perfect place to immerse yourself for a few days and enjoy the company and expertise of fellow foodies.
Copenhagen, Østergro Organic Farming
Pick lettuce leaves while you gaze over the rooftops of Copenhagen. What sounds like an unlikely combination is actually a description of Denmark’s very first rooftop farm. ØsterGro was opened in 2014 by Sofie Brincker, Livia Urban Swart Haaland and Kristian Skaarup on the roof of an old car dealership and has since spread to cover a green area of 600 m2. The beds are filled with tomatoes, edible flowers, herbs and vegetables. Naturally, everything is grown organically and is showered with love by the local community and volunteers. As well as the vegetable beds there is also a greenhouse, a chicken pen, beehives and even a restaurant called “Gro Spiseri”. Anyone wanting to learn more about urban agriculture can help out as a volunteer every Wednesday between April until mid-December. Additionally, there are workshops on topics like organic farming, food production and farm-to-table activities. You can learn how to make your own apple juice or discover how honey is harvested. For school children there is a free educational programme that includes topics such as sustainable vegetable growing. Check the website for new workshop dates.
Johan from Gothenburg has a mission: to introduce the participants of his workshops to the magical world of dyeing with indigo and the Japanese stitching techniques sashiko. In his workshops you can learn traditional methods and tools for repairing and revitalising textiles – and in doing so learn to take a more sustainable approach to clothes. After nearly 20 years in the fashion industry, Johan opened his shop “Göteborg Vintage” in 2013. Gradually, his interest in textile crafts grew and he repurposed his shop as an indigo studio. “I found my answer to how I could express myself and my lifelong interest: indigo“, he explains. Now, the avid collector has accumulated a whole universe of objects and textiles in the most expressive shades of blue. His workshops, which are very popular and usually fully booked, range from two-hour experiences to full-day classes.
De Petrus Library, Vught
Fontevraud Hotel, Image by N. Matheus
Text by Jasmin Pearson-Behr
Whether it be a former church or monastery, combining the very unique and distinct architecture of historic buildings with contemporary design creates something very special and inimitable. Have a look at our selection of hotels, restaurants and even a climbing centre that are all housed in beautifully restored buildings, giving them new life and new meaning.
The Jane, Antwerp
The Netherlands, Vught, De Petrus Library
What a place to while away the hours and browse through countless books. This stunning former church now doesn’t only host a library, it’s also home to a museum, a bar and some shops. The bookshelves are all placed on a rail system so they can be pushed to the sides making room to host events big and small. Libraries, like churches, are much more than their primary function, they build communities and provide shelter, they educate and make you think, making this a particularly fitting reinvention of the former church building.
France, Loire Valley, Fontevraud l’Hotel
This 12th century monastery in the winelands of Anjou and Saumur has been renovated to host a 54room boutique hotel that beautifully combines the historic building with contemporary style. Not only will you sleep in a UNESCO World Heritage Site once inhabited by nuns, the chef on site, Thibaut Ruggeri, has a Michelin star earned for his exciting and inventive dishes. The long history of the abbey is fascinating, founded by Breton priest Robert d’Arbrissel in 1101, it was once a minicity comprising a com munity of abbeys and monasteries. The church still contains the tombs of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart, Henry II and King John’s wife Isabelle de Angoulême. Louis XV’s four youngest daughters were educated there and, after the Revolution, Napoleon turned it into a prison that was only wound down in the 1960s.
Belgium, Antwerp, The Jane
This spectacular restaurant with two Michelin stars is a striking former chapel that has been turned into a trendsetting and unique destination. “Chef Nick Bril can be relied upon to introduce diners to mind blowing flavours. His food is both sophisticated and simple, steeped in powerful flavours and yet amazingly harmonious.” (The Michelin Guide) The kitchen, embraced by glass like a modern shrine, is located where the altar was once found, which makes perfect sense when you hear that to Bril, food is his religion. The stunning eatery is located in the old chapel of a former military hospital. The newly designed windows are a contemporary take on the old stainedglass windows and full of little surprises, inspired by the former function of the chapel.
Germany, Mönchengladbach, Kletterkirche
This church, built in 1932, might not be as picturesque as the other examples of repurposed buildings shown here – but it is pretty cool inside. The St. Peter church was turned into a climber’s paradise with wall heights of 13 meters and dedicated areas for all skill levels, from beginners to experts. There’s even an outside part and inside, many of the original features were kept. Ap parently it even still smells like a church. Getting the church built in the first place was not an easy feat. Inhabitants of the area Waldhausen in Mönchengladbach collected money for the church to be built for almost 20 years between 1895 and the start of the First World War in 1914. Just before the war broke out, the land was bought to build the church on and once it was finally fini shed in 1933, it served the community for 50 years until 1983.