A famous landmark
Farmer Anton Visnes wanted to open his home to visitors and converted a few rooms in the main building on his own farm in 1850. 37 years later his son Arne took a leap of faith and turned the whole farm building into a hotel.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Marianne Ramstad Malone
It was close to the quay, and the main road passed by the hotel, so goods and guests had easy access by sea or by land. The hotel is situated deep in the Nordfjord so many arrived by boat from Bergen and Sogn.
The beautiful Swiss style façade has been a famous landmark ever since it was added in the interwar era. The rest of the building was expanded at the same time and now had 30 guest rooms.
The hotel was closed for several years from 1957 until 1986, when Kristin – fifth generation Visnes – decided to take it up. In year 2000 the next generation, Vibeke Visnes, took over the helm. Many of the rooms got a makeover and en suites were installed in all of them.
In 2014 the hotel was put up for sale after being run by the Visnes family for six generations. Marit Nordheim Otterdal and Arvid Otterdal wanted to work in local tourism and hospitality and bought the hotel. Marit is originally from the mountain village of Vats in Hallingdal, where she grew up in the family business Nordheim Fjellstue, while Arvid comes from a farm in Hornindal. He is keen to maintain and improve the hotel and has a great interest in outdoor pursuits, hunting and fishing. In time he hopes to develop and offer activity tourism in the area. The couple love traveling and have found inspiration both locally and abroad. Right now they are busy developing the potential they see in the local tourism and passionate about preserving such a historical gem of a hotel in one of the most famous tourism areas in the world.
The hotel building itself is listed and it is important that the hosts preserve as much of its original style and the rich history as possible. The hotel shows signs of having been through many style eras, and 15 rooms are decorated in interwar and art nouveau style. The stairs might creak, some of the doors are low, and maintenance is a continuous project, but Marit and Arvid don’t want to modernise. They want to preserve the historic atmosphere of the hotel, so there are no TVs in the rooms. Guests who wish to watch TV are welcome to do so in the library on the ground floor, where many gather in the evening after dinner.
“It’s important that our guests understand why it is like that,” says Marit. The site still has remnants of the farm it used to be in the yard and the old barn which they now want to restore and repurpose.
Norwegian and locally sourced
Breakfast is served in the dining room, where the hosts welcome each guest to start the day with freshly baked, homemade bread and are happy to give advice on what to do in the area. Active guests often want to get an early start on their mountain walks and other activities, so breakfast is served when it suits the individual guest. It is also possible to get a packed lunch to go. Those who wish to relax might take the short walk to the centre of Stryn via the old bridge and following the river.
In the evening guests tend to gather in the restaurant and on the balcony. The hotel serves locally sourced Norwegian food for dinner every evening in the summer season. Arvid enjoys hunting, so the hotel has access to lots of delicious game. They also get fish and seafood from the coast and brown trout from a local supplier. They regularly organise themed evenings with a buffet, and food and wine evenings.
With its romantic historical rooms Visnes provides a beautiful backdrop for important life events like weddings, confirmations and birthday celebrations. The hotel can cater for 80 diners and the menu is planned with input from the guests.
The unique landscape, rich cultural history and hospitality makes a stay at Visnes very enjoyable. Great people, great hotel, great inside and out, as one guest put it.
Visnes Hotel has also been awarded the Olavsrosa, Norwegian Cultural Heritage’s seal of quality.