words Evie May Taylor
Arriving late in Bergen on a windy winter’s Friday – we looked forward to discover what Norway’s second largest city had in store. After an incredibly smooth taxi ride (excitedly for us in a Tesla) we walked into a hotel brimming with life. At 11pm Café Norge – contained in the entrance foyer to Hotel Norge by Scandic – encapsulated the soul of Bergen – a city at the heart of Norway.
Hotel Norge first opened in 1885 and has become one of Bergen’s most revered hotels. In 2018, the hotel was fully renovated and now acts as a cultural hub to a city where local meets international in a vibrant and unique atmosphere.
Our room was spacious and had an incredible view looking over lake Lille Lungegaardsvann, framed by a green park, the famous KODE galleries and two of Bergen’s iconic 7 mountains – Ulriken and Floyen. When we awoke in the morning the view was even greater, the pine forests that sit above showed this was a city aligned with nature.
Hotel Norge has an elegant but laid back atmosphere where the interior consists of modern, thoughtful design with high quality detailing. When we walked into breakfast we were taken aback by arrays of freshly baked bread/pastries, fresh produce, and delicious local Norwegian cuisine. A UNESCO city of gastronomy, even the breakfast in Bergen was extraordinary. The mix of tourists and locals gave the hotel a convivial feel as we enjoyed the delicacies on offer.
It took us only five minutes to walk from Hotel Norge to the UNESCO heritage Bryggen harbour. The multi-storied wooden structure seemed pulled from a fairy-tale as it reached into Bergen’s mountains. Even though it was a grey February day , the city fjord Byfjorden glistened against the harbour. We explored the maze of wooden shops which reminded us of a Viking village or Disney’s Frozen. Around the corner is the oldest building in Bergen, St Mary’s Church, built around 1150. Reminiscent of a medieval cathedral delicate arches reach up towards its pyre.
Behind Bryggen you will find the entrance of the Floibanen of Norway, a funicular linking the city centre to the peak of Floyen. The kids were thrilled at the prospect, as the carriages made their way up through rock and forest. At the top, there is a majestic view of the city, soaring right into the fjords, as well as a herd of goats, a cafe and a fine dining restaurant all set amongst stunning pine forest. We had a great time running through moorland pine forests finding remnants of beautiful white snow and zooming on ziplines through the trees. We felt as if we were in a Nordic wilderness, just minutes from Bergen’s centre.
Back in the hotel (the next morning), the Artesia pool and spa beckoned. Following stairs down from the foyer-you reach a true area of peace. A truly tranquil area of the hotel, photos of Nordic glaciers lining the walls of the entrance. Modern and beautiful, the kids were thrilled as they entered the warmth of the pool. There was even a chance to have a go at a Scandinavian Ice bath. My son loved tipping the cold water onto himself from a wooden bucket then jumping in the pool to warm back up.
After breakfast we headed out to catch a train from Bergen station. We were going on a true Norwegian adventure. Located across the square from the train station, Hotel Norge is in the perfect location to go on a ski adventure to a magical ski resort just an hour from Bergen – Voss. On the train we passed through tunnels and then along incredible fjords with mountainous peaks rimmed in thick snow in the distance. As we rode along the snow got thicker and thicker until we arrived at our destination. We wrapped up in warm coats and pants and walked along Voss station to the gondola (an ultra modern cable-car that takes you from the station right up the mountain). On the gondola we watched the fjords disappear behind us as we descended far far up into a snowy wilderness.
At the top, skiers whizzed past down beautiful high slopes covered in snow. My kids who’d only skied once before were eager to get started. We hired them some skis from the ski rental, the people there were knowledgeable and friendly and helped us beginners know what to do! On the beginners slopes the children increased gradually in confidence. Through snowy mountainous landscape they could soon ski fast down small slopes – loving every second. The resort was dramatic – you could see right down to the fjords as misty blue skies painted the deep snow.
Back in Bergen by 6, we were all very tired after skiing. Locals and tourists of all ages unloaded their ski gear at the station. We made our way back to our hotel room and its views of Bergen – what a day, what a trip. Our thoughts turned to dinner and rather than venturing out we chose to eat in the hotel’s main restaurant Café Norge. They use locally sourced ingredients to create a modern take on Norwegian cuisine. In Bergen the food quality overall is outstanding-the 3 restaurants we ate at during our trip offered incredibly flavourful and fresh cuisine. It’s a great city to visit in itself and with Fjords, mountains and the forces of nature on its doorstep it makes a great city break at any time of year.
For more information got to Visit Bergen
We stayed at the the Hotel Norge by Scandic