The Christmas Stay at Bergen’s Hotel Norge
An Instagrammable hotel experience for the Christmas enthusiast
MONA ANITA K. OLSEN
University of Stavanger
The Christmas season has officially kicked off with the first Sunday in Advent in November this year, sparking the start of the holiday tourism experience for Christmas enthusiasts. Christmas travel appeals to both national and international tourists in Norway each year.
Across Norway, the windows of homes are beautifully decorated with stars, and towns are filled with lights hanging across the streets. Christmas trees are decorated in both traditional and nontraditional approaches. Cafés are filled with holiday food and beverage designed with hygge in mind. While each city can be charming, Bergen is particularly charming this time of year.
Visitors to Bergen can visit Pepperkakebyen, the Gingerbread Town, at the Xhibition Shopping Center. Pepperkakebyen is the world’s largest gingerbread city. A yearly tradition, schools contribute to making a gingerbread version of Bergen for display.
At the Bergenhus Fortress, visitors can experience Lumagica, a series of over 40 light installations.
Finally, at Torgallmenningen square, which is in the center of the city, visitors can experience the Bergen Christmas Market. The market has several stalls with vendors providing all types of food and gifts for the season. With all of the experiences to be had, it is not surprising to hear of the launch of a Christmas hotel experience in downtown Bergen.
The Christmas Stay by Illums Bolighus is a hotel experience geared toward the Christmas enthusiast. Launched at Hotel Norge by Scandic in partnership with Illums Bolighus, the famous retailer of household furnishings based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Christmas Stay brings the Christmas celebration into your hotel room.
Hotel Norge is a large, 415-room property in downtown Bergen that was opened in 1885 and fully restored in 2018. Last month, the property fully decorated its public spaces for Christmas. It also opened the Christmas Stay in a spacious, double-view room of the property. The Christmas Stay overlooks Torgallmenningen and the Bergen Christmas Market.
On a trip to Bergen last month, I toured the property with General Manager Lise Solheim and got to see the final decorating being done on the Christmas Stay in Room 489.
While the Christmas tree caught my eye with its white branches and contrasting red and yellow ornaments, I was most surprised by the draw of the flannel linens that screamed cozy cuddles and anything but your typical hotel room white sheets.
In the bathroom, there were nutcrackers, candles, and custom towels. There was also an Advent candle holder and specialty lighting in the room. Products in the room were from Lexington, Royal Copenhagen, Stone Soap Spa, Norway DESIGNstudio, and Lakris by Bulow. Walking through the room made me want to Instagram everything!
The idea for the room came from the hotel’s Head Chef Tore Espenes. “Imagine if the guests go to sleep in an ordinary hotel, and during the night we decorate everything,” he said. “The morning after, they’ll wake up fully immersed in the Christmas spirit.”
Solheim contacted the Illums Bolighus store in Bergen and they immediately hit it off.
“Right from the first meeting, the partnership just clicked,” said Solheim. “We had a common vision for how to make the experience extraordinary for each guest. Christmas is an especially magical time for that. Our beautifully decorated common areas still give me chills each time I pass by – and I see them every day. Just imagine how it is for the guests when they walk in for the first time!
“Just imagine lying in a bed with Lexington Holiday Collection sheets, sipping hot chocolate from Christmas-themed mugs, snacking on licorice from Bulow and reading Christmas books you find in the room. A Christmas tree is blinking in the corner and it’s snowing outside – but you still can see the light of Bergen’s Christmas Market right outside your window.
“We are very happy and proud about this partnership, and strongly believe that it is just the beginning of something big and beautiful. Both Hotel Norge and Illums Bolighus have high ambitions regarding guest satisfaction – only the best is good enough. It is really easy and fun to work together. We’re all used to going the extra mile for our clients, and with the same vision and lots of ideas from both sides, it was a very smooth and easy collaboration. It actually came together quite fast. We were all so engaged and excited about this that we were really counting down to the day we could start. It took maybe a month or so from the first conversation until we could enjoy the final result. We already have so many big ideas for next year!”
Marketed as a package for two, the Christmas Stay is priced at NOK 2,500 per night and includes a variety of Christmas touches, such as a Christmas cocktail to be enjoyed in Café Norge (a modern café on the property) and a Christmas greeting from both Hotel Norge and Illums Bolighus—in addition to breakfast at Novastuene. You can find out more details on the Christmas Stay promotion at scandichotels.no/hotelltilbud/hotelnorge-illums-bolighus.
Feedback from guests “has been fantastic from Day One,” said Solheim. “The ‘WOW’ effect you get when you first enter the room in indescribable. So many guests have said that it was the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit, and everyone I’ve talked with has wished they didn’t have to leave. Guests are already anxious to return.”
One thing is for sure, for the Christmas enthusiast, I imagine the Christmas Stay would be a fun experience—with many Instagrammable moments.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 17, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.