Best hotels in Norway – Times Travel

Norway takes its lead from nature when it comes to the country’s most unique sleeps: be it a swanky design-led hotel at the foot of whopping great mountains, an avant-garde city escape hugging the shores of a bluer-than-blue fjord or a log cabin full of rustic, fire-warmed romance snuggled away in forests where reindeer roam. Whether you’re looking for an ultra-luxe boutique hideaway with a Michelin-starred restaurant in the basement, or an igloo freshly sculpted with the first big dump of winter snow, going beyond the avalanche of cookie-cutter chains opens up Norway in entirely new and exciting ways.

Masters of reinvention, the Norwegians love breathing new life into old bones: cue 16th-century trading posts, fish warehouses, banks and rickety barns reborn as glam hotels with personality, bearing the hallmark of venerable architects. Hotels here aren’t cheap, but it’s worth the hit to your bank balance to see the rising sun illuminate a fretwork of fjords and the aurora swaying above snow-frosted mountains in the high Arctic.

Main photo: Juvet Landscape Hotel, Valldal

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Isbreen The Glacier

 Far north of the Arctic Circle, this eco-minded fantasy escape sits in a ludicrously beautiful spot, where the dark Finnmark Alps whoosh up above steel-blue Jøkelfjord and a glacier calves directly into the sea. If the setting is dramatic, the modern-day glass igloos, or geodesic domes, are coolly understated in true Scandi style: icy palettes of blues and greys, goose-down duvets, slickly designed furniture, wood-fired stoves, telescopes and vast windows for fjord, star and northern lights gazing. After a day boating out to the glacier, whale-watching, dog sledding or ski touring, your hosts whip up feasts of local reindeer, fish and berries. Oh, and did we mention the sauna and outdoor hot tub by the sea? Isbreen is open year round, but it’s pure Narnia in winter.

Spa Y
Pool N
Price £££

Woodnest hotel Norway
Woodnest

2. Woodnest, Odda, Vestland

Forget bending down on one knee and popping open a ring box: when Kjartan wanted to propose to the love of his life — Sally, from Sydney — he built her the treehouse of her wildest dreams. And so the seeds for this staggering retreat were sewn. Perched like eyries in tall pines above the mountain-rimmed, sapphire-blue Hardanger Fjord and reached via a stiff uphill hike, these sustainable, wood, shingle-clad tree houses in Odda have been designed to resemble Norwegian pinecones. Architects were brought in to help design the rustic-chic, black-alder interiors, with wrap-around windows framing fjord views, handcrafted chairs and underfloor heating. Breakfast includes locally baked sourdough, eggs, juice and coffee.

Spa N
Pool N
Price ££-£££

Storfjord Hotel Norway
Storfjord Hotel

Spread across a cluster of dark-timber, turf-roofed houses, on a hillside looking out across west-coast Storfjord and the Sunnmøre Alps, Storfjord really couldn’t be more Norwegian. Inside, the boutique retreat seduces with candles, fireplaces, an intimate spa with a forest-facing jacuzzi, and a low-key gourmet restaurant bigging up local produce. The atmosphere in the nouveau-rustic rooms is as warm as a hug, with handcrafted log walls, muted colours, tweeds and down duvets. Borrow walking poles, fishing rods (there are some serious cod to catch in these waters), snowshoes and boats. Or find your own private nook to read, write, rest and dream.

Spa N
Pool N
Price £££

Sorrisniva Arctic Wilderness Lodge Norway
Sorrisniva’s Arctic Wilderness Lodge

In Alta in the high Arctic, the aurora regularly dances in clear night skies — as you might expect from the town home to the Northern Lights Cathedral. In the snows of winter, Sorrisniva is magical. Ice sculptors are drafted in to handcraft its igloos, where you can spend a surprisingly comfortable night in a reindeer hide-draped ice bed after a day snowshoeing, tobogganing, dog or reindeer sledding. There’s even a chance to get crafty and hook onto a two-hour crash course in ice sculpting. Grog at the ice bar warms you up nicely for dinners expertly knocked up with locally sourced reindeer, moose, seafood and wild berries. Should you be planning to tie the knot, there’s even an ice chapel.

Spa N
Pool N
Price £££

Eilert Smith Hotel Norway
Eilert Smith Hotel

“Boutique” has become a bit of a catch-all, but Eilert Smith in the fjord-side city of Stavanger really nails it: just 12 individually designed rooms echoing the building’s 1930s architecture, and two-Michelin-starred, 25-cover RE-NAA in the basement. This is not just a hotel but an act of love — architects have aimed for the avant garde, but have carefully preserved original curves, geometric patterns and modernist materials, such as travertine, brass, marble and wood. Furniture is custom-made, colours are pure and the light streaming in through slim horizontal windows is quite special. Plump for the penthouse suite, spun around a spiral staircase and looking out across Stavanger harbour.

Spa N
Pool N
Price £££

As the final frontier before the North Pole, Svalbard is where Norway takes a serious turn for the wilder — an archipelago home to more polar bears than people. The final flicker of civilization is Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen, the world’s northernmost settlement. In winter, this is a wondrous place of bone-chilling cold and stark beauty, best seen by dog sled or snowmobile as the aurora flashes away in the sky. Conservation-focused Basecamp Explorer is a cracking base, designed like a modern-rustic trapper’s lodge, with rooms filled with driftwood, sealskins, maps and pictures of explorers, and a snug lounge for post-expedition chilling. Better still, they arrange all kinds of fun, from glacier hikes to dog-sledding and multi-day snowmobile trips into the Arctic proper.

Spa N
Pool N
Price ££

Angvik Gamle Handelssted hotel Norway
Angvik Gamle Handelssted (Classic Norway-Christer Olsen Photo)

Hunkering down on the northern shore of slender Tingvoll Fjord in western Norway, this charmingly white-washed, timber-fronted hotel is a delicious slice of preserved heritage: it acted as a trading post back in the 1500s, when ships from Holland sailed here to buy timber. Most rooms have soothingly pretty views of the fjord and are classic in design — soft greys and creams, warm lighting and tarted-up antiques. The restaurant is more of a traditional, woody affair, with a chef taking pride in local sourcing from nearby farms and fjords. The clincher, however, is Badehuset Spa, lodged in a converted, glass-walled 18th-century granary overlooking the fjord, with hot baths, a sauna and luscious treatments.

Spa Y
Pool N
Price ££

Hotel Brosundet Norway
Hotel Brosundet

On a peninsula slinging its hook into the North Sea, Ålesund is one of Norway’s most vibrant and fetching port towns, with a parade of gabled, candy-coloured art nouveau houses casting mirror images in the Brosundet canal. An intimate, family-run affair, this reimagined fishing warehouse combines one-of-a-kind architecture with minimalist edge and contemporary elegance. A huge fire blazes away in the lobby, which soars up to a central gallery, and rooms riff modern on the Nordic look in charcoals, chocolates and whites, with hints of the building’s original flair in arched windows and exposed beams. They’ve thought of the lot: a corner café for locally brewed coffee, much-lauded restaurant, Apotekergata No. 5, serving just-caught seafood, a cocktail bar and a glam fitness and wellness area. Romance-wise, it has to be room 47 in Molja Lighthouse at the end of the jetty.

Spa Y
Pool N
Price £££

Opus 16 hotel Norway
Opus 16

An ode to 19th-century Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg, this modern classic hotel is run by his descendants. Originally Bergen’s swankiest bank, the building echoes its past in marble columns, polished granite and weighty chandeliers, while taking a definite leap into more contemporary waters with sleek furnishings, bespoke wall coverings and occasional flashes of punchy colour. You’re right in the heart of things here on Vågsallmenningen, one of Bergen’s most photogenic squares, just paces from historic Bryggen waterfront, the fish market and the funicular trundling up to Mount Fløyen. The handsome brasserie delivers afternoon tea with a splash of sophistication and, on Sundays, live jazz.

Spa N
Pool N
Price £££

Walaker Hotel Norway
Walaker Hotel

Walaker reclines dream-like on the shores of Lustrafjord, which reaches out a startlingly blue finger to touch the high, glaciated peaks of Jotunheimen and Jostedalsbreen national parks. It’s here that you’ll find Norway’s oldest hotel, run by the Nitter family since 1690, this historic retreat doesn’t give a damn about the 21st century. The cream-timber villa sits in lush floral gardens spilling down to the fjord, and rooms charm with heritage wall coverings and heavy antique furnishings. Dinner — served at 7.30pm sharp — is a set-menu feast of fjord-fished seafood, forest venison, mushrooms and fruits. Old fashioned and insanely idyllic, Walaker Hotel is somewhere you’ll remember and rave about forever more.

Spa N
Pool N
Price ££-£££

Trondheim is Norway’s historic city poster-child, with its heart-stealing fjord setting, upbeat vibe and flurry of great restaurants, cafés and museums. Do it in style by staying at the Britannia, which opened its doors in 1870 to attract British aristocrats off to fish for the world’s best salmon. Looking dashing after a top-to-toe makeover, its rooms evoke a Nordic winter in silvers, whites and greys, with handcrafted Hästens beds and Carrara marble bathrooms. Top billing, if budget is irrelevant, goes to the vast, extravagantly opulent Tower Suite, with its own grand piano and butler kitchen. After a romp around town, the skylit Palmehaven (for afternoon tea), domed spa, Michelin-starred restaurant and dark, sexy wine cellar await.

Spa Y
Pool Y
Price £££

Juvet Landscape Hotel Norway
Juvet Landscape Hotel

More nature-inspired art installation than hotel, Juvet is beautifully caught between mountain and fjord. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls act as the frame for changing lights, weathers and entrancing views over forested slopes and the Valldøla River. The log houses are contemporary, monochrome and purist in design: from cubic, stilt-perched “Landscape Rooms” to tinier, simpler “Bird Houses”. The stripped-back look and lack of curtains is intentional so as not to detract from the wonder of the outdoors; for more space and luxury, book the Writer’s Lodge. After skiing, rafting or soul-searching hiking, return to the cocoon-like warmth of the riverside bathhouse and eat incredibly well in the revamped century-old cow barn.

Spa N
Pool N
Price ££-£££

The Thief hotel Noreway
The Thief

A burst of dark, new-Nordic glamour on Tjuvholmen (“Thief Island”), right opposite the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, The Thief is Oslo’s hottest boutique ticket. Nordic architects, interior designers and curators conjured up this wonder in glass and granite, filling it with nooks, flattering light, rich colours and eye-grabbing works by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. Gold-kissed rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows capture the light and moods of Oslofjord, the rooftop restaurant plays up inventive, season-driven cuisine, and the backlit spa and grotto-like pool make this hands-down Norway’s sexiest city escape.

Spa Y
Pool Y
Price £££

Out on a limb, Røisheim sits on the cusp of Jotunheimen National Park, where glaciers glint atop dark, fang-like mountains and Norway’s highest peak — 2469m Galdhøpiggen — rises. Tucked discreetly between the pleats and folds of forested slopes, this reborn 18th-century coaching inn enchants with 14 tar-painted, turf-roofed timber houses — all faithfully restored with features such as fireplaces, hand-painted four-poster beds and wooden bathtubs. Artists, playwrights, weary travellers and mountaineers have long flocked here for warm hospitality, big wilderness and food that sings heartily of the seasons — a winning mix still today.

Spa N
Pool N
Price ££

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