Spectacular. Ultramodern and edgy, but still classic, simple and in keeping with traditional architectural style. The first of its kind in Europe, Juvet Landskapshotell has already become one of Norway’s most famous places to stay.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Knut Bry
Hotel owner Knut Slinning has undoubtedly achieved his dream of creating a hotel that would bring rural Norway to international attention. Juvet is located in Valldal, on the old farm of Burtigarden in the small village of Alstad, and consists of a few simple boxy timber and glass buildings on a very steep riverbank surrounded by a dramatic and untouched natural landscape. Still untouched even after the buildings are in place, because the trees, stones and bushes are still standing where they always stood. This is what Knut Slinning and architects Jensen and Skodvin wanted to achieve; a hotel that blends in with the magnificent landscape. This way they could offer people the opportunity of experiencing a protected area that would otherwise have inaccessible.
“Sustainability is not only about reducing our energy consumption, but also about taking care to keep the natural landscape the way it is,” says Knut Slinning. “It is a way of showing that we respect and acknowledge that nature was here before us – and will still be here after us too.”
This is the reason the first seven landscape rooms they built were exceptional in many ways – built separately and spread out in the landscape, like small cubes on stilts, all with glass fronts overlooking the gorge below. Each room is completely unique, but all of them have the magnificent view through one or two glass walls and a dark interior which won’t draw attention away from the drama of nature taking place outside. All the rooms are painstakingly adapted to the terrain which means each of them have their own exclusive view – a view which changes depending on the time of day, the weather and the season. The hotel’s owner compares it to sitting in an old fashioned gapahuk – a simple open fronted shelter – but a considerably more luxurious one.
Great experiences in small rooms
The seven landscape rooms and a spa area were opened to guests in 2010. Three years later two more rooms were added, constructed in a slightly different way than the first seven. Some say they resemble birdhouses because of the way they hang in the steep hill above the others. “We have tried to show how little we really need to feel happy and content,” says Slinning. The rooms are no more than eight square metres, but feature a good bed, a small settee, shower and WC and big glass windows.
You can also stay in the old houses at Burtigarden. The mill house, where they milled grain in the old days, is the smallest house on the farmstead. Today it has a comfortable bed for one or two people and not a lot more, but it stands down by the river and has arguably the best view. Selet is an old mountain farm house with a bed for two people, and the farmhouse with kitchen, bathroom and several bedrooms has been brought back to its original design with the help of photographs from 1880. The cowshed has become a dining room and sitting room with an open fireplace, the pigsty has been transformed into a modern kitchen and the barn is used for serving food, parties and dancing. The hoteliers take pride in having preserved the old houses in a way that brings to life an important part of Norway’s cultural history. However only the modern rooms are rented out to individual guests; the farmhouse is only used for groups of more than 20 people.
The hotel also has its own spa area built into the ground down by the river, out of view from the yard in spite of being just a few steps away – made in dark concrete and with small rooms painted in the most beautiful colours. The front is a 15 metre long glass pane facing the river as it takes a small detour up towards the hotel. We can only imagine how wonderful it must be to rest and regain your strength here after a long day outside. In the subterranean spa there is a steam sauna and a chill-out room with a fireplace, a quiet room and possibly the best of all – outside is a hot tub which will undoubtedly offer magical moments surrounded by silent nature, with only the rush of the river in the distance …