Stavanger’s Riviera: Curl up with a book on sandy Solastranden
Norwegian American Weekly
You’re daydreaming about that sandy beach, where you can spend your summer days lounging under the warm sun with a captivating novel in hand. You’re probably imagining yourself in a tropical destination, maybe Mexico or the Bahamas. (Don’t deny it; we know it’s true!)
But what if the beach of your daydream was located much farther north, in the land of the midnight sun? You may just be fantasizing about Solastranden, the one and a half mile long beach located on Norway’s southern coast, sometimes called Stavanger’s Riviera. With a shallow shore ideal for swimming and a sandy beach perfect for curling up with a book, it’s no surprise that Solastranden was named Norway’s best beach by Femina.no.
In fact, Solastranden has even been ranked as the world’s sixth best beach by the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, surpassing the shores of Spain and Thailand. Journalist David Wickers praised Solastranden, the only Scandinavian destination to make the list, for its beautiful historic hotel and long, summer days.
The Sola Strand Hotel, situated right on the beach, was of course thrilled to receive this recognition in a foreign publication. “With its full-page spreads and three million readers, The Sunday Times has really put Rogaland and the Stavanger region on the map for British tourists,” said Hotel Managing Director Gisle Steffensen.
At 101 years old, the Sola Strand Hotel boasts a rich history and is part of De Historiske Hotel og Spisesteder, the organization for historic hotels in Norway. The original 1914 fireplace welcomes guests into the reception area in addition to the Mathilde Christiane figurehead from the Swedish ship that was shipwrecked nearby in 1822. Mathilde certainly isn’t the only artifact from ships of the past, though. The dining room was built from the frigate Kong Sverre, Norway’s largest naval sailing ship, and the smoking lounge was recreated from the cruise ship Montroyal. The artwork found throughout the hotel also emphasizes the region’s maritime connections: large canvasses inspired by the surrounding beaches by Ole Nesvik, copies of watercolors by the ship-owner Mons Gabriel Monsen, and paintings from the local maritime painter Ivan Storm Juliussen.
During WWII, Sola Strand was used as quarters for Norwegian Air Force officers, and the hotel continues to use the bunkers located on the south end of the beach—for whiskey and wine tastings. Although the hotel is often used for business meetings and conferences, it is recommended as a vacation spot for small groups. The 139 guest rooms provide breathtaking panoramic views of the North Sea and easy access to Solastranden.
To treat your taste buds, you can visit the first-class restaurant inspired by local ingredients and the food traditions of Norway. Or, if you just can’t find it in yourself to leave the sand, there’s a beach bar serving drinks, homemade fish soup, and more. Throughout the month of July, you can even have the chef pack you a basket of food and beverages for you to enjoy a delicious picnic on the beach. What could be better?
Sandy beaches and gourmet meals are a must, but you can’t really experience the ultimate relaxation vacation without a spa. Luckily, the hotel’s Nordsjøbadet Spa offers the wide variety of services necessary to provide that ultimate serenity. In addition to professional massages and facials, the spa contains a counter-current pool, three saunas, a cold plunge pool, and relaxation areas with views of the sand dunes. These services are a hot commodity though, so Nordsjøbadet suggests that you book well in advance!
If you’re looking for more to do around Sola (maybe you finished your book?), the Solastranden Golf Club is another popular attraction. This 18-hole seaside course is open all year round, unlike most Norwegian golf clubs, and the winds from the sea make it a challenging game.
If golf isn’t really your thing, you might enjoy exploring the historical artifacts in the region, dating back to the Stone Age. Explore burial mounds from the Bronze Age or learn about the conditions during WWII at the Rogaland Krigshistoriske Museum.
Whatever your interests, make sure to consider Solastranden the next time you’re picturing yourself on that imaginary beach! It’s located just over a mile from the Stavanger airport, and it might just be the perfect spot to catch up on Jo Nesbø’s latest novel.
This article originally appeared in the July 24, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.