Off the beaten tourist path
Cozy up at a heritage hotel for a personalized, unforgettable Norwegian experience
By Christy Olsen Field, Norwegian American Weekly
For a fresh way to experience Norway, go back to Norway’s rural roots by staying at a heritage hotel. From old farms to a vintage 1960s hotel, options abound for the ultimate Norwegian experience.
Heritage Hotels is a small network of six independently-run hotels throughout central Norway. The emphasis is on excellent food, traditional Norwegian culture and individualized attention for a relaxing, enriching Norwegian experience. Each hotel has accommodations for 20 – 60 people, and the hotel owners are committed and enthusiastic about their work. By partnering together, Heritage Hotels draw visitors off the beaten tourist track to experience pure Norway.
Mette and Tor Lien of Lien Fjellgard have been in the hotel business for about 15 years, but their farm has been in the family since the early 1600s. Their idyllic farm is located near Svartdal in Telemark.
“Our hotel is real, with old houses from the 1700s and 1800s. It’s near to nature and quiet – you can hear the silence,” said Mette.
Lien Fjellgard is a destination for vacationers, work retreats and family reunions. It’s a destination for many Norwegian-Americans too – many people immigrated to the U.S. and Canada in the 1800s, and many come back to see their ancestral farms and homeland.
“Our guests want something different from the big hotels. They want to sit by the open fireplace and feel like going back in time,” said Mette.
Bjørn Moe of Mo Laksegard – located near Stavanger in Sand, Suldal – offers the ultimate destination for fishing enthusiasts.
“I started in the tourism business in 1982. The Mo farm had the right for salmon fishing in the Suldalslågen river, which runs right outside our houses, so we started selling fishing licenses and restoring old houses on the farm to accommodate fishermen,” said Moe.
Many visitors to Mo Laksegard come for salmon fishing and the unique Salmon Safari, in which people swim with the salmon for an unforgettable experience.
“The only place in the whole Norway where you can swim with the salmon!” said Moe.
Fausko Skysstasjon, operated by Knut Fausko in the mountain resort town of Hemsedal, Hallingdal, focuses its energy on authenticity and a comprehensive Norwegian experience with modern conveniences. Fausko began its hotel operations in the 1870s, as a resting place for travelers between eastern and western Norway. Today, Fausko arranges food and culture evenings, mountain hikes, fishing, concerts and festivals.
“We take guests on a journey through time and space; geographically through food and wine, culturally through history and music, spiritually through tours in our magnificent countryside, socially through strong group experiences and virtually through arranging internet connection, video conferences, DVD film presentations, and more,” said Fausko. “Our vision is based on a fundamental respect for nature, culture and people, and to create an atmosphere that gives our guests inspiration, peace of mind and time for reflection,” said Fausko.
For those looking to stay in an unusual setting, Energihotellet in the village of Nesflaten in Suldal, Rogaland, offers unique architecture and stunning nature. The hotel, originally designed to house Hydro station employees, was sold in 2007 by Norsk Hydro, and it sits on a small hill overlooking the lake Suldalsvatnet.
“The architecture was created in the 1960s by famed Norwegian architect Geir Grung. The functionalistic style with a lot of concrete makes an unique fit with the landscape and rural landscape. To have such an architectural masterpiece located in small village several hours from the nearest city, is quite rare,” said Olav Lindseth, who has managed the hotel for four years with his wife. “The interior at Energihotellet has also several unique 1960s details. We have a lounge with original furniture (featured in season three of Mad Men) from 1960 made by Norwegian designer Sven Ivar Dysthe, and this furniture has been there since the hotel was built.”
Lindseth pointed out that small hotels cannot often compete with larger hotels with facilities, but the emphasis on service makes for a better experience – even if the accommodations are off the beaten path.
“When visiting Norway, you have to remember that narrow roads makes the travel a bit longer than expected. But when traveling along these narrow roads, you often experience fantastic landscape and because of that it is natural to take your time traveling. A lot of tourists traveling to Norway often plan to stay at several places during their trip and seldom more than two or three days at the same place, because they want to experience as much as possible,” adds Lindseth.
Heritage Hotels is part of a larger trend in Norway for smaller travel companies to work together to provide visitors with the best possible experience in Norway. Partnerships like Heritage Hotels allow tourists to tailor their time in Norway to fit their interests.
“We promise you a stay with a lot of memories, so that you always want to come back,” said Mette Lien.
For more information about Heritage Hotels, visit www.heritagehotels.no. Information is available about the individual hotels and contact information.
This article originally appeared in the Mar. 30, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.