8 Norwegian hotels with distinctive character

Last modified 19.03.2022 | Published 31.03.20192015's, Norway, Norway Places

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Join us crossing Norway in search of exciting accommodation. You will now get to know eight small and large hotels or guesthouses, all of which excel in some way.

This is the second of several articles. In the first article you were presented with what kind of establishments we are looking for. The hotels are usually wooden, many of them have long historical roots in architecture and decor – and they want to take care of it. At the same time, they can have elements of modern design. They also emphasise their proud history in the meeting with their guests and they want to give everyone an individual, unique experience. Customers expect high quality in everything from bedding to locally produced food. And they want hospitality.

The sample represents those that Sandalsand has visited and wants to highlight. This means that there are several good candidates around the country, but they will come on later trips.

The review of each hotel also includes links to the hotel, to booking rooms and to Sandalsand articles from the municipality we are in. The numbering continues from the previous article, and the order in this article is otherwise by the alphabet. Note that at the bottom is a map showing the location of all the hotels mentioned.

This article was first published in Norwegian, on Sandalsand Norge.


10. Bristol, Oslo

In the centre of the city is the hotel which describes itself like this: “In a constantly changing world, Hotel Bristol puts tradition, quality and service in the forefront. Already in the lobby you will experience the distinctive style of the hotel. An elegance and honor that has characterized the hotel since 1920, when the doors were opened to the first guests.”

It is basically well said, because it is venerable and you get an experience of decadent luxury in the lobby. Here you should let yourself sink into a chair or sofa and just enjoy the mood and a drink. The winter garden and the library bar are in this part of the hotel. Many hotels with history seem to lapse over the years. I can’t remember having experienced this the times over the years I’ve stayed here, visited the lobby or restaurant, or just attending a conference. It is quite remarkable really. The rooms are good, and the stairwell may well be the country’s finest. Here you walk slowly down for dinner in the exquisite Bristol Grill.

Bristol is very centrally located in the centre of Oslo, and thus has almost everything right outside the doors. It is the Thon chain which runs the hotel.

Go to the hotel’s websitebook a room. See all articles from Oslo on Sandalsand (in Norwegian).

11. Fossli, Eidfjord

“Fly back in time. This hotel is a time capsule.” This was how my review started in the article (and on Tripadvisor) that deals with my visit. And the description goes on like this:

“Fossli hotel has a perfect location right on the edge of Norway’s most famous waterfall, the Vøringsfossen. You can’t avoid hearing it and you can’t stop enjoying the superb views. The hotel is set on the perimeter of the vast highland plateau of Hardangervidda, a national park, and a close drive to one of the longest fjords, Hardangervidda.

The hotel itself was built in the late 19th centery and must have evolved gradually up until the late 1960’s or even early 1970’s. Since then everything was kind of locked down and no new impulses came in. I almost looked for a black&white TV set in the room, but there was no TV at all. It’s absolutely amazing. A memory to keep for years. We loved it. Food was good and wholesome, not very good or exciting in any way.”

I can only add that the hotel is not affiliated with any chains, and that it is only open during the summer months.

Go to the hotel’s websitebook a room. We are in Eidfjord municipality, so read all articles from it on Sandalsand (in Norwegian).

12. GamlaVærket, Sandnes

If the establishment itself does not have a long history, then one can borrow it and develop its own traditions. Gamlaværket in the centre of Sandnes has been good at it.

GamlaVærket Gjestgiveri & Tracteringssted is the site’s full title. It is based in a factory which was called GamlaVærket by most people. This factory was in 1783 Rogaland county’s first industrial company. They produced tiles and pottery products, and that is what developed the small settlement at the end of the Gandsfjord into a modern town. The city has been good at using the brickwork history in its identity building, and GamlaVærket contributes well in that way even though it was established as late as 1995.

I have not stayed, only eaten and attended meetings. The impression is very good. The use of bricks and elements from the brickwork history has been used very actively in the interior design and creates a good atmosphere. The hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels and Restaurants in Norway.

Go to the hotel’s websitebook a room, and read all articles from Sandnes municipality on Sandalsand (in Norwegian).


13. Granavolden Gjæstgiveri, Gran

On a ridge with great views of Hadeland, and with two beautiful medieval churches just behind, there is a historic atmosphere about this guest house. It opened its doors in 1657.

The strategic location at Granavollen was the best. Here the royal road passed between Oslo and Bergen, and here there used to be a local assembly (thing) and a coaching inn. The 1000 years old pilgrimage route to Nidaros passes by and there is a separate building for use in that context right by the guest house.

I hadn’t been here for many years when I recently came back. The owners have put a lot of effort into restoring the main house, and it has become very charming. The year of 1657 is not what characterises buildings today, because there are actually a bit of mixed building features that meet the guests – and more refurbishment cannot hurt. Nevertheless, it is great here, and something completely out of the ordinary.

The guest house has in itself a rich history, but there is even more to experience in the immediate vicinity of Granavolden Gjæstgiveri. The service was very welcoming and cheerful – and the food was tasty. The hotel is independent of chains and associations.

Go to the hotel’s website, book a room and read all articles from Gran on Sandalsand (in Norwegian).

It is almost enough with the magnificent view south towards the Oslo fjord 350 altitude meters below us, or towards the wide forest areas in the west, and the hiking opportunities that are offered in vast forested Nordmarka right behind us. What still fascinates most is the hotel’s unmistakable dragon style.

It was in 1894 that the oldest part was set up, then as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. From 1914 the building has served as a hotel, today part of the Scandic chain. Holmenkollen Park is a large conference hotel, and has gone through many extensions and refurbishments. It is modern and keeps high standards on most counts. Actually, the newer parts are boring, although one also tries to preserve a rich history and especially the history of winter sports.

Take a round in the oldest part, into the corridors and through the dining rooms. You will find the excellent hiking network of Nordmarka right behind the hotel. The Holmenkollen ski jump and the Ski Museum are five minutes walk along the road, or preferably a little longer, as you should rather choose the detour through the wood.

Go to the hotel’s websitebook a room, and read all articles from Oslo on Sandalsand (in Norwegian).


15. Neptune, Bergen

We are in the centre of Bergen. This hotel we are primarily drawn to because of its two restaurants.

There is nothing wrong with the hotel itself, being part of the Scandic chain, rather the opposite. The rooms are good and nice, the reception area very open and airy, the staff skilled. But in the entrance area we also find the popular Pascal. The restaurant is intimate, cosy and with very good food. On the second floor we find Bergen’s perhaps best gourmet restaurant, Lucullus. Here I tasted the classic Bergen dish persetorsk for the first time – lovely.

Go to the hotel’s websitebook a room, and read all articles from Bergen on Sandalsand (in Norwegian).


16. Nidelven, Trondheim

We are somehow in the department for good eating now, because we are going to the hotel with the country’s best breakfast.

That title have been their to keep for many years, and the first time I was reasonably sceptical about whether it could be true. My scepticism was calmed. Here you will have a desire to get up early, and sit long at the breakfast table before today’s meeting or sightseeing activities take place. The content on the tables is not only rich, but it is very exciting, good, tempting, healthy and prepared by chefs who knows what they are doing. The queue at the cheeses can be long.

That said, it is not only the breakfast that is good, also lunch and dinner I have to add. Besides, the hotel is new and pretty stylish. It is located at the outlet of Nidelva just off Blomsterbrua (Flower bridge).

Go to the hotel’s websitebook a room and read all articles from Trondheim on Sandalsand (in Norwegian).

“The beautiful and breathtaking views beyond the Nærøydalen valley from Stalheim Hotel have for almost 200 years been one of the highlights of many tourists’ travel in Western Norway.” This is how they describe themselves, and that is quite correct.

From the middle of the 17th century there was a post station here, and a hundred years later it served as a coaching inn on the main road to Bergen. At that time it opened up for overnight guests. From the beginning of the 19th century, Stalheim built up a reputation among foreign and Norwegian tourists. In the middle of the century, a number of painters came here too, to get inspiration from the view and transform it into masterpieces of art aimed at increasing national self-confidence and thus creating the basis for the national romantic movement which in political terms resulted in an independent nation in 1905. The most famous painting was painted by JC Dahl in 1842, simply called “From Stalheim“.


In a way, it’s the location that makes the hotel and the history. Today’s hotel is the fourth in the same place, the former ones had very unpleasant fates. It is light and airy especially in the dining area, where we also get a magnificent view. I myself have not stayed overnight and just stopped by for a visit and to eat. The hotel is connected to the Historic ones.

Anyone who stops here will surely appreciate the collection of old rural buildings on the other side of the road, besides driving down the fabled Stalheimskleiva (one-way drive with a number of hairpins). If you indulge in an overnight stay, it will also be nice to go hiking to the nearby waterfalls. Also, remember that the World Heritage Site associated with the Nærøyfjord extends almost right up to the hotel.

Go to the hotel’s websitebook a room, and read the article from one of my visits on Sandalsand.

What more?

The map below shows which hotels are included in this series, and which are randomly scattered around the articles.


A closing remark

This is not a sponsored article. The articles and the reviews are not paid by anyone: My own journeys and stays form the basis of the reviews. If you click on the booking link and book the accommodation, the booking engine will give a few pennies of their commission back to me.


Articles in this series

9 Norwegian hotels with distinctive character

8 Norwegian hotels with distinctive character (THIS)

7 Norwegian hotels with distinctive character

6 Norwegian hotels with distinctive character