STORFJORD HOTEL, SKODJE, NORWAY
It’s not every day Features Editor Tonje Odegard gets to feature a hotel from her tiny hometown in Norway, but when the hotel offers the ultimate Norwegian experience, both in terms of nature and design, and when it’s the stay of choice for Bill Gates and the Range Rover team, it feels like a no-brainer…
Who would have thought that a hotel from my charming, but let’s face it, boring, village in Norway would ever appear in SPACE, an international magazine that features the very best-designed luxury hotels in the world? I’m immensely proud that Skodje, a small town of roughly 5000 people, situated just outside Ålesund, has such a beautifully designed luxury boutique hotel to offer the world.
When Microsoft-founder Bill Gates chose to stay there a few years back, it put Storfjord and Skodje on the map, and the hotel has later seen an influx in international visitors; for instance, Range Rover recently chose to take advantage of the hotel’s stunning scenery and rough nature for the testing and photography of their new car range. This year, the hotel also became part of Small Luxury Hotels of The World.
Storfjord Hotel offers the ultimate Norwegian experience where Scandinavian minimalism, traditional Norwegian building techniques and characteristic national romance marry in a luxurious and relaxing environment. Storfjord Hotel is a destination hotel with local charm, outstanding nature and a taste of the true Norway.
This luxury hideaway is idyllically located on a secluded, wooded hill-top in Glomset overlooking the Storfjord fjord with its breathtaking surrounding mountains – a classic Norwegian landscape with snow-clad mountain tops, deep-blue waters and green forests.
The people behind Storfjord, owners Line and Knut Flakk, who also own the travel company 62O NORD in Ålesund, believe that there is a strong link between your natural environment and your wellbeing. Storfjord’s location was therefore carefully chosen to soothe the soul and offer a place for peace, tranquillity and rejuvenation. Guests are encouraged to explore and interact with the hotel’s natural surroundings through outdoor activities such as hikes, helicopter rides, kayaking, and picnics by the hotel’s private quay.
What is more, the charming city of Ålesund with its characteristic art nouveau architecture, the UNSECO heritage site of Geiranger Fjord and the famous Sunnmøre Alps are all in close proximity to the hotel.
Looking at the hotel’s exterior, many are surprised to discover it was only built in 2006, welcoming their first guests in 2007. By using the building technique Norwegians have used for centuries, the authentic look of traditional grass-roofed wooden houses is maintained, giving off the impression the structure has stood on its spot for hundreds of years. This offers a very special experience for visitors.
The fine craftsmanship includes each log in the main building being hand-hewn by a master carpenter with every joint being chiselled by hand and carefully fitted. These are techniques that have been used by Norwegians for thousands of years – the same methods used to build our Viking ships and stave churches. Keeping up the tradition and heritage was something that was important for Storfjord Hotel in order to offer their guests the full understanding of their ethos. Another traditional technique is placing lamb’s wool in-between the logs as insulation, an example of what makes Storfjord exceptional.
This year, ten years after their launch, Storfjord decided to build a new guesthouse on the north side of the premises, housing a set of new forest-view suites. Storfjord has thus gone from offering six guestrooms when they opened in 2007 to a total of 31 keys now – this included the nine-bedroom extension the hotel underwent in 2008. They have also installed a new spa and wellness area.
As you walk into the main reception, you are met with the scent of cog-built pine, a spectacular view of the fjord through floor-to-ceiling glass doors that lead onto the outdoor patio, and the feeling you’ve entered a warm cabin overflowing with ‘hygge’.
Carrying on into the dining hall and living room, you are met with traditional mounted deer heads and other taxidermy hanging on the timber-clad two-storey walls or sitting on the huge corner fireplace. Another striking feature are the chandeliers made out of antlers that hover over the dining tables.
It is everything you would imagine a luxury mountain hotel in Norway to look like – pine everything, tree trunks as furniture, small square windows, sheep skin on floors and chairs, comfy beds and atmospheric fireplaces.
It’s Nordic warmth taken to the next level – the guesthouses and main building make you feel like you’re visiting a traditional cabin, but the luxury elements remind you of the high-end environment you find yourself in. It’s blended together in a seamless way; the luxurious rain shower inside a wood-clad booth, the deep-soaking tub with a unique wooden plank across it for your amenities and drinks, and the outdoor chairs on the terrace clad in deerskin for the utmost authenticity, but also for the utmost comfort.
It’s interesting how the interior design and furniture manages to be extravagant and make a statement, yet keeping in line with the well-known Scandinavian minimalism. The owner, Line Flakk has personally been responsible for the interior design, and her talent and attention to detail is remarkable. Fresh seasonal flowers from the surrounding forest are picked daily and put in tiny vases in guest rooms, one-of-a-kind artefacts sourced from around the globe is brought back to the hotel and used as décor, and local suppliers are used for genuine, short-travelled quality.
The forest-view suites in the new guesthouse are the most modern and most stylish out of the lot. Although a forest view is amazingly tranquil and beautiful, a lot of guests visit hoping for a fjord view, so the interiors and amenities in the forest-view suites are boosted up. What is more, to really reinforce and maximise the forest view, the suites are either kitted out with large terraces or giant floor-to-ceiling windows stretching the entire length of the tall ceilings.
Spa and wellness
To keep up with other luxury hotels in the world, Stofjord decided to expand their spa and wellness offering, but to remain true to their Scandinavian traditions and heritage.
Everything is clad in pine, and the conventional sauna has a giant floor-to-ceiling window allowing guests to enjoy the spectacular view and nature outside while relaxing in the heat. The outdoor Jacuzzi is also placed in order to take in the view and is lined with natural stones with outdoor showers nearby.
Although everything about Storfjord screams of luxury, from the service, the food and the beds, to the design, the spa and the view, entering the hotel feels like entering someone’s home. You’re looked after, both by staff and by the interiors. I guess for me, entering Storfjord Hotel is like coming home, but there is no doubt in my mind that you will feel the same way.