Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Golden Otter

170727-05 Gyllene Uttern

Gyllene Uttern, in English The Golden Otter, is a famous hotel and restaurant near the small town of Gränna (in the provice of Småland), with views over Lake Vättern. The original coffee house and cottages were built in 1933 by a man born von Otter, but later taking the family name Gyllensvaan (‘golden swan’). He had noticed that this spot near Gränna, on the road between southern Sweden and the capital Stockholm, was a popular place for motoring tourists to stop and take a break, even back then. So The Golden Otter became Sweden’s very first “motel”.


At first the place consisted only of five separate cottages; but then a larger building in the style of a grand fortress was added; imitating real castle ruins in the neighbourhood. It’s all done with a good sense of humour, giving the hotel a unique appearance and mix of styles.

I was very excited that I managed to book us rooms at this place; even if in one of the annexes rather than in the “castle” itself.



The Golden Otter itself, in all its golden glory (in the reception hall)

The otter is also the animal symbol of the province of Småland. It is listed as a vulnerable species. However, the information at this showcase says that after having been nearly extinct, the otter population is now growing again in this area; and the hotel supports a society that is working to save the otters.

Knights in shining armour




In this dining room we had breakfast the next morning ▼




Our rooms were in one of the yellow wooden annexes ▲

▲ These little chalets had fantastic views of the lake.
We managed to sneak past one of them out on the rocks to have a look.





Bluebells (harebells) and ferns

Actually my very first memory of Gyllene Uttern is a very early one – although a bit vague. The photo below is from August 1961, when we had relatives from the US visiting. We only had dinner at the inn then, and I can’t actually recall if the “castle” part of the place had already been added. I think the restaurant may have been in a smaller cottage back then. Anyway it definitely had a grass roof! (Compare the views in the collage at the top.)

1961 Gyllene Uttern

The people in the old photo are, from the left: my maternal grandfather, my mum, my grandmother (in the raincap, behind me), my grandmother’s cousin from the US with husband and daughter, and my mum’s sister. My grandmother died later that autumn, so I think this is actually the last photo I have with her in it. I suppose my dad was behind the camera, as he is not in the picture.


  1. That looks a lovely place to stay. You are unmistakable in the last photo by the way.

    1. Pretty much the same haircut now as back then, too! (lol)

  2. the old family photo is a treasure. I love you and your brother in that gorgeous mirror and the golden otter is a beautiful animal. what w fantastic place to stay. just the dining room is awesome all by itself..

    1. I loved it because it's so wonderfully quirky! I'd gladly go back there again another time.

  3. What an interesting looking place! Do you still keep in touch with your relatives in the States?

    1. I'm afraid we lost touch over the years, Janet. I wrote to the last address that I had after my mum died, but never got a reply then.

  4. Great Pictures of a great place! And little Monica didn't look much different from 2017's Monica, as Graham has pointed out :-) Like your Outfit with different, but matching, shades of blue.
    I've never seen an otter of any other colour than black/dark Brown.

    1. Meike, I'm half amused myself now when looking at old photos, because I think I look more like my very young self now than I did over a number of years "in between". Maybe I've entered my 2nd childhood! ;)
      Blue is one of my favourite colours, especially in summer - and when travelling (even if that does not happen all that often!) I find it practical to pack clothes that can be matched in various combinations.

  5. What a wonderful post. This place is awesome! I love your priceless family picture and of course, could pick you out. Sad about your grandmother, but good that she had this last outing with her family. I love the thatched cottages, and the picture of you and Per in the mirror. The dining room is delightful, full of light, and very airy with all the windows. The fortress does indeed look like an old authentic fortress. How special to have stayed here with your brother!

  6. Thanks Ginny. This is a place I'd have wanted to stop and have a look at even if we hadn't managed to actually book rooms for the night there - partly because of that old photo :)

  7. the old family photo is a treasure. I love you and your brother in that gorgeous mirror and the golden otter is a beautiful animal.



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