Must-visit historic hotels in Norway

Kviknes HotelPhoto: Milton Correa / Flickr
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Historic hotels in Norway offer age-old heritage on the inside and stunning natural beauty on the outside.

Some of Norway’s historic hotels are located right in the middle of UNESCO-worthy fjords, while others are centuries old. Read on for our list of four Norwegian hotels that have a story to tell.

Fretheim Hotel

This historic hotel is located in picturesque Flåm, a town in Western Norway surrounded by wide valleys, the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Nærøyfjord, and the must-experience Flåm Railway.

Nærøyfjord
The magnificent Nærøyfjord. Source: dconvertini / Flickr (CC)

Fretheim’s history began in 1850 when the oldest part of the hotel was built. 

This oldest part of the hotel today contains 17 of the establishment’s rooms – dubbed the “Historic Rooms”. Each comes with its own Victorian-era color theme and fabulously antique furniture.

Other room types and suites in the hotel include the:

  • Historic Tower Suite; a massive two-story suite connected by a private grand staircase. The stunning suite’s amenities include a romantic queen-size bed, a view overlooking Flåm, a jacuzzi, and free slippers and a bathrobe.
  • America Rooms; 12 rooms that were inspired by American tourists that visited the hotel in the 1960s. Newly renovated in 2012, they now feature fjord-facing balconies, twin beds, and complimentary slippers and a bathrobe.
  • Six Corner Rooms/Junior Suites; located on the outermost part of the hotel. These accommodations provide some of the best views of the fjord and hotel garden. The six rooms feature two twin beds, a sofa set, and a kitchen table. Of course, bathrobes and slippers are included in the price here, too. Bring on the kos!
  • Rooms with a balcony or access to the garden; the largest room type at the Fretheim Hotel. The rooms include either a balcony, direct access to the garden, or a fantastic fjord-facing view. They additionally feature two twin beds and a bathtub-shower bathroom combination.
  • Standard rooms; 37 rooms located at the back of the hotel. Each features hiking trail and mountain views. 20 of the rooms include two twin beds and a bathtub-shower, 14 of the rooms include queen-size beds and a bathtub-shower, and three of the rooms are specially tailored for families, accommodating up to four people.   
  • Stabburet (storehouse); a shared living area dating back to 1926. This area can accommodate large families due to its large capacity. The “storehouse” includes four single rooms, one double room, a living room, and a shared bathroom and shower.

Due to Fretheim Hotel’s superb location, many recreational and natural activities are available just steps away from the hotel’s grounds. Partake in a fjord cruise, journey along the Flåm railway, bike through the Navvies Road, or hike, kayak, and ski the days away.

Fretheim Hotel
A peek into the Fretheim Hotel and its landscaped gardens. Photo: djanimal / Flickr (CC)

When you’re done adventuring, the hotel’s onsite restaurant Arven serves only local and authentic Norwegian cuisine. Pigs, lamb, deer, and reindeer are all raised in the surrounding mountainsides in order to provide ethical meat consumption.

Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cheese are also produced from around the local fjord landscape. Pair your meal with a fantastic view of the Aurlandsfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord, and the Flåm mountains.

Kviknes Hotel

The Kviknes Hotel is situated in Balestrand Municipality by Sognefjord, the largest fjord in Norway.

The hotel was first established in 1752 and was taken over in 1877 by the Kvikne family, who still operate it to this day, four generations later.

Many prominent guests have stayed at Kviknes, including Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and Norwegian artists Hans F. Gude, Johannes Flintoe and Hans Dahl.

The artists were inspired by the hotel’s architecture and the surrounding landscape for some of their works, some of which are displayed throughout the hotel’s wooden rooms. So, you can even delve into the hotel’s history from the comfort of your own room.

Kviknes is comprised of two different buildings: the historic building and the modern building.

In the historic building, most demi suites and regular rooms have balconies and queen-size beds, but all have up-close-and-personal views of the Sognefjord.

Kviknes hotel
A fjord view from a Kviknes Hotel room. Photo: Milton Correa / Flickr (CC)

In the modern building, two room types are offered: the more spacious double rooms, which are located on the western side and feature seating areas, queen-size beds, and fjord and Balestrand village views, and the smaller twin rooms, which are located on the eastern side and feature twin beds and overlook fjords, mountains, and part of the village.

Some popular tourist attractions (all of which are easily accessible) in the area include the Norwegian Glacier Museum, where you can learn about glaciers throughout history, and the Norwegian Booktown, a quaint open-air bookstore in Fjærland which consists of second-hand bookshops, cafes, and gallery shops.

Adventurous activities, such as hiking, skiing, fjord tours, and kayak trips are available nearby as well.

In Kviknes’ Balholm Bar, an array of meals, from shrimp sandwiches to veggie burgers, are prepared using as many local ingredients as possible. Sip on any of the hotel’s 300 types of wine alongside your meal.

Hotel Ullensvang

This long-time hotel is located in Hardanger, a Norwegian district ruled by mountainous peaks and massive fjords.

In 1843, 14-year-old Hans Utne bought a piece of land on the Hardangerfjord banks and built himself a boathouse. Over the next three years, he expanded his small abode by adding another room for guests. In 1846, the base for Hotel Ullensvang was established thanks to Utne’s expansion of his facilities.

Over the years, the following generations of the Utne family managed the hotel. Following mass renovations, the hotel was open year-round for the first time in 1919.

In 1962, Hans Utne and Ellen Utne, the third generation of the Utne family, renovated the hotel. They added modern elements without destroying original features full of charm.

Following further expansion plans in 1972, the Utne’s fourth generation, Edmund Harris Utne and Ina Torill, made the hotel into what it is today: a world-class historic hotel.

Since 2005, the hotel has been managed by the family’s fifth generation, Hans Edmund Harris Utne and Barbara Zanoni Utne. Thanks to over 150 years’ hard work, Hotel Ullensvang now boasts over 170 rooms, a luxurious spa, and picture-perfect views.

On the hotel’s west side, you’ll be privy to views of the Hardangerfjord and Folgefonna Glacier, while the east side overlooks fruit gardens and part of the Hardangervidda mountain plain. Hotel Ullensvang features a selection of standard rooms, family rooms, superior rooms, comfort rooms, junior suites, and five individual suites.

One of the hotel’s most popular facilities is the Ullensvang Bath, which includes a heated, 88-meter long swimming channel, stretching from the indoor swimming pool to the outdoor infinity pool, a jacuzzi massage area, and panoramic sauna. Additional facilities free to hotel guests include a gym, table tennis, summer rowing boats, and the complex’s own Fjord Garden, which overlooks Hardangerfjord and the surrounding bay.

Hardangerfjord
Hardangerfjord. Photo: Oskars Sylwan / Unsplash

If you wish to explore beyond Ullesvang, the hotel can recommend activities available in Hardanger. Helicopter sightseeing, hiking to Trolltunga, fjord cruise, and visits to Renaissance-age monk steps and Lofthus Village are all just a fingertip away.

Walaker Hotel

The Walaker Hotel sits alongside Lustrafjord, the innermost part of the Sognefjord. It’s located in Solvorn, Vestland County, Western Norway. The hotel is not only surrounded by beauty; it’s surrounded by history as well.

Walaker Hotel
The Walaker Hotel. Photo: AnneCN / Flickr (CC)

Dating back to the 17th century, it’s been established as the oldest family-run hotel in Norway.

Not many details are known about the hotel before the Nitter family officially took over in 1690. It’s speculated the Nitters originally emigrated from Scotland in search of jobs.

The main building of the hotel is thought to have been first used as a guest house from the beginning of the 17th century. Then, after years of traveling, Christian Nitter and Birgitt Nitter took over, and the establishment expanded. Over the years, it was passed down from generation to generation. In the mid-1800s, the first tourists arrived in Western Norway, prompting the further expansion of the property and utilities.

In the mid-1930s, the old guest house was renovated, and in 1964, a motel building was added in order to accommodate even more guests. Today, ninth-generation Nitter Ole Henrik operates the hotel, determined to preserve and pass down its traditions.

Each part of the hotel has its own history. The upper floor, referred to as Tingstova, has been around since 1630 and features four rooms with a fjord-facing view. The Annex is the newest part of the Walaker hotel, having been built in 1964. Three rooms face the valley, while two additional suites offer extra amazing views of the fjord and the hotel’s garden.

The hotel recommends three nearby excursions that are well worth the visit: the Urnes Stave Church, the Molden hike and viewpoint, and the Jostedal Glacier.

Urnes Stave Church
The Urnes Stave Church. Photo: Leirdal / Pixabay

The Walaker Hotel has its own restaurant as well. As with many Norwegian food establishments, the Walaker restaurant aims to serve foods that are as ethical and authentic as possible. Some of the Norwegian cuisine served onsite includes Norwegian lobster from the fjord, venison from the mountains, berries from the garden, farmhouse cheeses, and home-made apple juice.

Have you stayed in a historic hotel in Norway? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Source: Norway Today

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