Sandhamns Värdshus
Sandhamn – a popular archipelago idyll

Due east from Stockholm, as far out into the archipelago as you can go, lies Sandhamn.

During summer the island is swarming with sailors, day trippers, summer visitors and residents. From June to September Sandhamn bursts into life. Here, you will find a barren archipelago landscape, fine sandy beaches and a charming village brimming with restaurants, shops, local fish smokehouses and plenty of other attractions.


Collage - picture of a sunset, overlooking the sea, and a path leading to the forest.

Sandhamns Värdshus is open all winter, with the exception of Christmas and New Year. Winter is peaceful and calm. A season to cuddle up indoors in the protective warmth of a fire and enjoy a delicious meal with superb wines, occasionally glancing outside into the darkness at the spectacular night skies filled with stars that are rarely visible in the city.

We have a famous Christmas buffet with a wide range of dishes to choose from. The food is presented in small bowls or plates to ensure it is always fresh and inviting.

THE HISTORY OF SANDHAMN

1672 The first inn was introduced.

1719 The entire archipelago was invaded by the murderous Russian fleet. On the island of Eknö where most sea pilots lived, everything of value was burned and looted. But the enemy didn’t only target Eknö, they also set fire to the island of Sandhamn. According to one story, the only place to survive the onslaught was the tiny inn, but in actual fact this is very unlikely to be true. More than 20,000 archipelago residents lost everything they owned.

After peace was declared in Nystad in 1721, a period of calm followed and Sweden’s economy gradually recovered. Several trading companies were started – among them The East India Trading Company. By 1726, Sandhamnsleden was completely opened for shipping and the little community could now contemplate the handsome ships anchored in the harbour or majestically sailing through Sandhamnshålet. By the end of the 1700’s the harbour could accommodate no less than 50-60 boats.

1725 The Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency decided to permit the building of a customs hall.

During the middle of the 1800’s, Sandhamn opened its first shop, housed in the new hostel. In 1850, the first influx of summer visitors began and before long demand grew for a larger building. By the 1840’s the old 18th century hostel still existed in its original form. A document from spring 1842 with the headline, “ The government offers payment for the renovation of the existing building this year,”  provides a clue as to how large the building was that year.

The sea pilot, Samuel Sundberg was responsible for repairs and it was him who wrote to the government to try and get the other town councillors to agree. From Stockholm, essential building materials such as timber, nails and paint were purchased. A “Captain Petterson” volunteered his services to help ship all the freight out to Sandhamn and “Master Englund”, “Miss Sjoblom” and “Murmästaren” (Master Mason) all helped by offering their services for a few days. The entire building was apparently repainted red. The old turf roof was demolished and replaced with 250 tiles.


Collage - old pictures of the harbour and one of the shop around the turn of the last century.

To accommodate a growing number of summer visitors, the first holiday cottages were built. For the first time guests would rent rooms from pilot’s families and the inn became known as the place where one “lodged” with food.

1896 The artists, Verner von Heidenstam, Gustaf Fröding, JAG Acke, Albert Engström and Birger Mörner together with their wives spent a few weeks in August on the island. Most of the time was spent partying and Albert Engström discovered during his visit the famous “floating smorgasbord”. The group stayed in separate red cottages but ate all meals together in the restaurant, which was also the Värdshus.

1894 A new veranda was constructed. The roof was of tin and as fashion demanded, the upper level was open to the elements. But after a series of typical wet Swedish summers the veranda was eventually glassed in. In the early 1900’s the hotel was given a more elegant character under the influence of Knut Aspegren. On the veranda guests were served on linen tablecloths, laid with delicate emblazoned porcelain and slim crystal wine glasses.

During the 1920’s as Sandhamn’s Värdshus fell into disrepair its reputation plummeted. No extensive renovations were carried out and complaints were lodged by concerned authorities, including the principal chief constable in Vaxholm.

Sandhamns Värdshus opened its doors again in 1931 after essential repairs were completed. However, it was difficult for the restaurant manager to stay open all year round. There was no insulation on the top floor and the only sources of heat were two tile ovens and an open fireplace. The dining room on the upper floor was classified as first class, while the bar on the ground floor was second class. Towards the end of the 1930’s the Royal Swedish Yacht Club took over the running of Sandhamns Värdshus, which was by then in terrible condition.

On the evening of the 11th December a large section of Sandhamns Värdshus burnt down, caused by a few ashtrays that somehow ended up in a cardboard box. Old drawings were used as reference in the restoration that followed which included insulating the entire building and installing the double-glazed windows. In addition, the foundation was recast, new oak floors laid on the ground floor and attractive kijr wood floors installed upstairs. The Vardshuset was reopened on the 30th May 1941.

The Royal Swedish Yacht Club was in possession of the building until 1955.


Collage - local scenery and a current picture of Sandhamns Värdshus.

1959 Carl Erich Zaar arrived on the island. He managed to acquire an alcohol licence, on the condition that spirits were only served in the upper floor restaurant. But this didn’t bother Calle, who called cognac and whisky “white sherry” in the second-class area on the floor below. The food was generally quite plain - falun sausage, meatballs or fried herring. In the veranda restaurant, there was a choice between salted meats, boiled pike and Calle’s own pan-fried beef. Vegetables were a rarity except for the occasional isolated asparagus stalk on the side of the plate. The guests had enormous respect for Calle, who never needed security guards if things got a bit out of hand. Instead he would fetch a can of ammonia and pour it over the floor. In less than a minute all the guests would flee. Carl Zaar ran the inn until his death in 1976.

1979 The brothers Wikström arrived as new tenants. Through stubbornness and commitment they managed to reverse the trend and in 1982 were able to purchase Sandhamns Värdshus. In 1989, Lars Wikström took over sole responsibility for running the business and since then has made a genuine impression on the business.

Today, Sandhamns Värdshus is an establishment well known both in the archipelago and Stockholm.

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