About us

We are a small, beautiful hotel right at the edge of the forest in the idyllic Bunn between Gränna and Jönköping. Here, you can stay in one of our 25 stylishly decorated hotel rooms, in our 6-bed Smålandsstugan cottage or in your motorhome on our top-rated pitch.

Here are also modern conference rooms and space for festive celebrations, and the entire facility is set up for those who enjoy being active in nature. We have marked cycle routs and footpaths, sauna, swimming area, outdoor gym, canoe and cycle hire, and much more. In the restaurant we try to use as much local ingredients as possible and er like to use flavours from the forest pantry.

Right now we are in an exciting period as we develop our sustainability work for a better and more sustainable future, both for us who work here and for you as a guest. To read more about our sustainability work, click here

A warm welcome to experience our magical place – a part of The Forest Hotels

John Bauer

The artist John Bauer’s spirit rests over the Bauergården and pictures of his paintings as well as books and illustrations by him can be found in the Bauer lounge. The colors from his paintings have inspired the interior design of the hotel, which is signified by the dull colors of the forest and the blue colors of the sky and water.

Nature can be experienced through hikes, bike rides or a magical boat ride in Lake Bunn.

Growing up in Jönköping

John Bauer was born in 1882 and grew up at Östra torget in Jönköping. The family runs a butchery business downstairs in the wooden house and lives upstairs themselves. Trade is conducted in the market place and already early in the morning the first horse-drawn carts from the outskirts of the city arrive fully loaded with goods. Here it teems with life and movement during the day.

John is one of four siblings, older brother Hjalmar, older sister Anna and younger brother Ernst. Anna dies tragically when she is only thirteen years old, leaving the family in great sorrow. The family’s butchery business is doing well, and in 1881 the family can build a beautiful summer home by Rocksjön, Villa Sjövik. John thrives here and early sketches show how he drew the house and surroundings around Rocksjön, which at the time was surrounded by forest.

Already 16 years old, he leaves Jönköping to study in Stockholm. But it takes two years before he is admitted to the Art Academy. During the two years, John has many doubts about his ability.


John & Esther

The joy is great when he is finally accepted. During his studies at the Art Academy in Stockholm, he meets the light-haired and exuberant Esther Ellqvist, who becomes his great love. She becomes the model for the princesses he repeatedly draws.

Many of the letters that Esther and John wrote to each other during the times they were apart form the basis of why we know so much about John Bauer’s life today. The two are madly in love at first, but their love endures many trials over the years. Esther, who grew up in Stockholm, thrives best among the hustle and bustle, while John prefers to spend his time in the forests of Småland.

John & the nature

Already at an early age, John Bauer is fascinated by nature. As a young boy, he wanders around Jönköping, and in the forests around the family’s summer house Villa Sjövik. After a few years in Stockholm, John looks to find a home for himself and his Esther near Jönköping. It is important that the cottage is sur-rounded by beautiful landscape, so one day, he hops onto his bike, with a sandwich and a pen and paper in his backpack, and cycles around the countryside. Eventually, he finds what he’s looking for in Bunn. He writes to Esther:

“I have a little cottage on a hill in the forest by a lake named Bunn, that is located not far from Gränna and Vättern. It is beautiful there, and the forests are big and in the lake there are many islands and one can see far across it all.”

The years in Bunn

John loves to travel by canoe on lake Bunn. In the channels of the lake, branches stretch out across the water and form lush tunnels, and from his place in the canoe, John can gaze into the wilderness. The variations in the landscape amazes John. In a letter to a friend, he describes his new home:

“We have long ridges, big forests, cliffs, and piles of stones. But we also have bright birch groves, meadows, and rich fields. And the air from Vättern and the wide horizon.”

The wondrous nature acts as an infinite source of inspiration for Bauer. Han draws trolls, fair princesses, and handsome knights. All with nature as a backdrop, both inside the darkest and most moss-clad forests, as well as high upon the ridges with a mile long view over the area with lake Vättern glimmering in the distance.

While John is out on long walks in the forest, the days are long and lonely for Esther. She longs to return to her friends and family in Stockholm. Her need for city life and socializing and his need for closeness to nature and solitude create a rift between the two. They spend the summers in Bunn and the winters in Stockholm.

In the late summer of 1915, the son Bengt is born. He becomes the apple of both his parents’ eyes and happiness and brings them back together. But only for a short time. Esther and Putte, as the son came to be called, still live in villa Björkudden, while John travels a lot. They decide to start over in Stockholm and with John’s father’s help they buy a plot of land and have a house built.

The tragic fate of the fairy tale artist

In November 1918, they have packed their things and will take the boat to Stockholm. They choose to take a boat because they consider trains too dangerous. The weather forecast promises light wind on the journey to Stockholm. The evening before the trip they spend with their friends Bengt and Elna Hedberg in Gränna, they eat dinner and socialize in pleasant ways. Later, Elna will tell in a letter to John’s parents about a pleasant evening where the four adults all played with Putte and that John and Esther were both looking forward to moving to Stockholm. But she also describes their concern when they see that the winds are picking up over Lake Vättern.

The steamboat Per Brahe is heavily loaded with sewing machines, iron stoves and tubs of fruit puree when John, Esther and little Putte step on board. Their furniture and other household goods have already been loaded. When the boat leaves Gränna harbor shortly before eleven in the evening, the weak southerly wind has increased in strength and changed to a westerly. It has started to snow and the dark waves are hitting the sides of the boat hard.

Shortly after one o’clock, when the steamboat is on its way into port at Hästholmen, just south of Omberg, a large wave crashes over the deck and drags with it the barrels of fruit puree that are unlashed on the foredeck. When the boat capsizes, the heavy load shifts and the steamer sinks rapidly. Those who have been awakened by the violent movement of the boat try to get out but are prevented by luggage and cargo barricading the doors. All 24 people on board the boat perish.

The tragic accident draws attention throughout the country and when the steamer is salvaged four years later, the incident is followed by the entire country. John’s body is found on a staircase outside the cabin, while Esther’s body is found in the saloon, with Putte in her lap.

The fairy tale artist and his family are buried at Östra Kyrkogården in Jönköping.

Bunns magical nature

The nature around Bunn starts the imagination in both young and old. Here at Bauergården, you’ll find nature right around the bend. You only have to take a few steps into the woods before you yourself can see Bauer’s figures in trees and rocks. Branches and roots are easily transformed into troll arms and feet. Maybe you’ll even get a glimpse of the elk Skutt when he majestically strolls through his kingdom.

From the water, the area is experienced from another perspective, and while you silently drift forward on the channels, perhaps you’ll see the mistress of the forest, Skogsrået, as the sun sets through pine and leaves. Fairies dance in the mist that rises from lake Bunn in the evening. Here in Bunn, it often feels like you’re visiting a world that belongs not to man, but to the trolls and the fairies.