There is something completely unique about this place. Something magical. Our magnificent buildings and the enchanting landscape outside take us into our own little world. The sparkling coastline that can be seen from many rooms is soothing for the soul. In 1992, the hotel became Varberg Kurort & Kusthotell and today we are Varbergs Kusthotell. A place to enjoy pleasant company in a relaxed atmosphere that inspires a zest for life and equanimity.
Back in the early 1900s, a doctor named Johan Severin Almer realised that there was something special about the piece of land on which our hotel stands. This is when he opened the sanatorium Kustsanatoriet Apelviken, which is what our health resort was originally called. The reason he chose this particular place was because of his firm belief that sun, fresh air, saltwater baths and nutritious food have a major impact on health. A holistic outlook on life that we still hold today.
We are incredibly proud of passing on such a great heritage, and of course we think that we are part of the story too. Everyone relaxes in different ways, which is why we offer a wide range of options for our visitors. Some people take nourishment from the sound of the rolling ocean waves, others choose a leisurely lunch, while yet others love to enjoy warm baths and a relaxing massage. Here you can do all or any of those things. The main idea is that everyone who visits us leaves with a greater sense of well-being in their body.
The word spa dates back to the 19th century and is a term for a place where healthcare is provided in connection with certain natural resources, such as a favourable climate, a certain type of bathing or a mineral spring.
In the early 19th century, Swedish healthcare was poorly developed and one of the few ways to cure chronic illness was to spend time at one of the country’s spa resorts and “drink from the spring". The treatment was as simple as it was ingenious: "Drink 7–9 litres of water/day, standing, preferably walking".
Varberg's reputation as a health destination dates back to when the city's natural spring, the Svartekällan spring, began to be used for medical purposes in the early 1800s. Svartekällan was located in Stora Apelviken and was in use from 1811 to 1888. The site still exists and is marked with a cultural monument, but the spring is now unfit to drink. Eventually a fountain house was built inside the city, next to the present Brunnsparken opposite the church, and the water from Svartekällan was drawn there.
As drinking from the spring became more and more popular, it was complimented by bathing in both hot and cold water. Until 1869, it was forbidden to bathe directly in the sea, as it was "associated with danger to life", so special bathhouses were built. Hot and cold baths were built north of the fortress and the present Societetsparken took shape. The current open-air bathhouse is the third to be built, as the first two were destroyed by violent storms.
The first Varmbadhuset (Hot Bath House) was built in 1822 and contained five bathrooms, where, even at that time, body wraps, seaweed baths and massages were given. In the early 1900s, Varmbadhuset was replaced by a state-of-the-art bathhouse to the east of the fortress, and this was where parts of Varbergs Kurort were located until the move to Lilla Apelviken in 1992.
Over time, the opportunity to travel by train, car and bicycle brought people from inland Sweden to the coast and beaches. Bathing evolved into an increasingly popular pastime, and from the late 1930s it became synonymous with summer as everyone was granted statutory holidays. In the 1950s, visitors started to arrive by caravan in order to stay at the city's campsites. Kiosks, restaurants, hotels and summer houses became part of the bathing environment. Varberg's beaches were filled with visitors from near and far.
Lilla Apelviken, where Varbergs Kusthotell is located today, is often referred to as KÅSA. The name comes from the abbreviation KSA, which after generations of Varberg dialect has become KÅSA. The abbreviation stands for Kustsanatoriet (the coastal sanatorium), and the Apelviken sanatorium is thus named after the buildings in the area.
At the beginning of the 20th century, tuberculosis was the most common cause of death in Sweden, and the idea of building sanatoriums came from in Switzerland and Germany. In Sweden, sanatoriums were set up mainly along the coast and in the mountains, where the climate was considered to be particularly favourable. The purpose of the sanatoriums was both to cure tuberculosis and to protect healthy people from infection.
the town physician in Varberg, Johan Severin Almer, started treating children
with tuberculosis at the original health resort Apelviken. These children had a
form of tuberculosis known as scrofulous, which manifested as swollen glands
with pus, chronic rhinitis, lip eczema and catarrh of the conjunctiva of the
eyes. Dr. Almer, also known as the "sun doctor", firmly believed that
sun, fresh air, saltwater baths and a nutritious diet had a curative effect on
In the first summer, six children spent time with a nurse at the farm, now known as Apelviksgården, on the outskirts of our area. Two years later, the “Association for Coastal Care of Scrofulous Children” was founded and the first pavilion was built down by the shore. The business was expanded every two years, constantly increasing the number of children and activities.
After 11 years, the first stone building was built on the site and it is the building where our bar is located today. Nothing remains of the original wooden buildings. The number and age of patients increased, and patients with other types of TB also came to KÅSA. When Dr. Almer died in 1927, the Varberg sanatorium was Scandinavia’s largest with 574 locations and some 200 employees. The area had its own postal address and was largely self-sufficient with its own crops, farm, bakery, carpentry, weaving mill, school, etc.
Although the treatment of tuberculosis at Apelviken’s Coastal Sanatorium was effective and the majority of patients recovered, it did not manage to save the lives of all those who came here. Al large proportion of the patients came from poor backgrounds and their home towns were scattered throughout the country. Transporting dead relatives home was so costly that many were unable to do so. Initially, the sanatorium's dead were buried in the city’s cemetery, but in 1925 permission was granted to construct a cemetery of its own in the area.
Dr. Almer died on his 66th birthday on 13 May 1927 and the cemetery was dedicated at his funeral. He was thus the first to be buried here. A tall memorial stone to Almer and his life’s work is located in the southwest corner of the cemetery.
After the end of World War II, tuberculosis declined due to medicines and vaccines. The business developed with orthopaedics and the treatment of polio. In 1967, the Coastal Sanatorium was renamed Apelviken Hospital, with its orthopaedics and long-term care facilities. When the new hospital in Varberg eventually opened in the early 1970s, only long-term care operations and a nursing school remained in the old sanatorium.
the County Council took over the entire Apelviken Hospital for long-term care,
and 1985 was to be a fateful year for the buildings. The County Council sold
the sanatorium to Olle Johansson Bygg in Borås and everything was to be
demolished to build summer cottages on the site.
Varberg Municipality then exercised the right of first refusal to save the site from demolition and in 1987 announced a competition of ideas. The winner was Contekton Architects with the proposal to “Build northern Europe’s most modern health resort with a focus on recreation, rehabilitation and conferences”. The facility would build on the traditions of Varberg's spa and Dr. Almer’s ideas of light and warmth.
Fastighetsutveckling AB, the company behind the winning entry, was commissioned
to renovate the building to preserve the area's atmosphere and ensure that the
new buildings blended in.
In 1991, the Kusthotellet hotel was completed with 39 suites, and in 1992 Varbergs Kurort's operations were moved down from the old bathhouse to Apelviken and many of our current colleagues moved with them.
Former spokesperson Ingemund Bengtsson was finally able to inaugurate what is now Varbergs Kusthotell, then under the name Varbergs Kurort and Kusthotell. The business shifted to a certain extent; from a health centre to a total unequivocal experience for body and soul and with a hotel and restaurant under the same roof.
During the extensive rebuilding and renovation in the early 1990s, much of the original architecture was preserved and much new was added, but in such a way that the area’s atmosphere was preserved. The entire area was known as Varbergs Kurort, and the municipality preferred that the new activities on the site would have a nurturing focus.
From 1989–1994, the area was marketed as a conference and rehabilitation centre. In addition to the hotel and spa business, which partially relocated from the old bathhouse, the buildings on the site were filled with tenants with a different kind of healthcare focus; including an eating disorder centre, a counselling service, a podiatry clinic, occupational health services, etc.
When Varbergs Kurort- och Kusthotell opened in 1992, it had a wide range of wellness facilities, including a spa, spa treatments, hotel rooms and a restaurant, and many came here for recreational purposes. Others came here for 2—6 weeks for rehabilitation purposes and received an assessment and mapping of their symptoms with follow-up treatments, primarily for pain in the shoulders, back and neck. Rehabilitation guests also had access to a medical clinic and a physiotherapist.
During the 1990s and 2000s, it was a special time for the Kusthotellet, as several successful football teams chose to gear up here for important competitions. The Dutch and German national teams chose to stay here during the 1992 European Championships finals. Among the most internationally renowned clubs to have visited are Benfica, Barcelona and Lazio. The Swedish national team has also chosen the hotel on a number of occasions to prepare for important competitions, perhaps most famously in the build-up to the 1994 World Cup when the team won bronze in the USA.
In 1996, the Danish hotel chain Comwell became the owner of Varbergs Kurort- och Kusthotell and the business eventually changed its name to Varbergs Kurort Hotell & Spa. With Comwell’s knowledge of conferences and spas, a transformation of the business from a medical to a health-promoting spa business began, as well as an increased focus on conferences and meetings. This development was accelerated by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency's reduction of national funding for treatments in health centres and spas. In 1996–97, the hotel added 19 new hotel rooms, a new salon for beauty treatments and a new dining room and conference centre. The work paid off and in 2005 Varbergs Kurort Hotell & Spa took first place in an international competition for Europe's best spa hotel.
In 2003, operations were further expanded and the Competence Centre was established, focusing on spa and health training for prospective instructors and therapists. From 2002–2016 massage training was offered for upper secondary students and adult education to become a certified massage therapist and a medical massage therapist. Today, there is no training conducted on our premises, but both former teachers and students now work at our spa and in the training department.
In 2010, they also decided to invest more in large-scale conferences and Villa Apelviken was built. Villa Apelviken with its 233 sqm can accommodate up to 220 people. The building is flexible and adaptable and can easily be transformed from an exhibition space to a relaxing lounge. This building also has a spacious lounge for mingling and coffee breaks, as well as 40 hotel rooms with 80 beds.
Proximity to the sea has always been at the heart of the facilities; already in 1992 the heated seawater pool was built and our spa treatments have always had marine elements, with the seaweed bath being our oldest treatment which has been with us ever since the spa baths were built 200 years ago.
In 2015, the unique elements of our spa were further enhanced and a new thalassotherapy concept was introduced. In addition to the already existing aspects of our spa that fall under the thalassotherapy concept, we also chose to use only spa products that contain marine components such as minerals, sea salt and algae. In 2016, we were recognised for our thalassotherapy spa when we were named Sweden’s top spa. The reason was: "The spa was transformed into an elegant coastal hotel, without abandoning the Thalasso concept. Once unique, always unique. A spa for the ages".
In 2015, to embrace the new thalassotherapy concept and highlight the proximity to the sea, we changed our name to Varbergs Kusthotell and the part of the business that works with rehabilitation has been distinguished as the Kurortskliniken, which offers physiotherapy, sport rehabilitation, CBT and stress and sleeping disorders therapy, among other services.
Since the major rebuilding in the early 1990s, the hotel has been under constant development, always with the aim of managing the site in the best possible way. We are incredibly proud of passing on such a great heritage, and of course we think that we are part of the story too. Part of passing on history is being able to meet the needs of future generations for recreation and relaxation in a sustainable way. As a hotel business, we also strive to meet our guests’ expectations for comfort and standard of their rooms. The hotel has been renovated in stages and by the end of 2022 all hotel rooms will have undergone the latest refurbishment. From a sustainability perspective, we strive to maintain and enhance the buildings’ architecture through careful interventions that are harmonious with the buildings and with a timeless colour scale that evokes the sea.
Everyone relaxes in different ways, which is why we offer a wide range of options for our visitors. Some people take nourishment from the sound of the rolling ocean waves, others choose a leisurely lunch, while yet others love to enjoy warm baths and a relaxing massage. Here you can do all or any of those things. The main idea is that everyone who visits us leaves with a greater sense of well-being in their body.