An exclusive oasis in the city
Stay in a stately villa, a late baroque building from the 1700s with its own garden, a stone’s throw from train and bus stations. A delightful oasis in the heart of Bergen city.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Åke Lindman
The historic villa from 1770 is a relaxing place to be, an exclusive little hotel with 18 rooms, right next door to the Grand Hotel Terminus, and owned by the same family. The villa was built by merchant Zander Kaae, who also gave his name to the street it’s on. Kaae was a well known benefactor in the city and built the villa for the “destitute elderly”, but also as a retirement home for the middle class, and was distinctly different from other institutions for the poor at the time. The building’s early history is characterised by expensive and valuable interior decorations, and falls within a European manor tradition. The villa was owned by Zander Kaae foundation for 250 years.
The late baroque villa with one main building and two wings was designed by the German-Norwegian architect Johan Joachim Reichborn. His designed many famous buildings in Bergen: churches, a customs house, a Latin school, an almshouse and a leprosy hospital. According to Reichborn’s drawings, the villa originally had a richly decorated dormer in rococo style, but this was later altered.
The house was considered to be so important to the city that it was listed already in 1927. In 1978 it was repurposed and used by Bergen city council as sheltered housing for the elderly and refugees before it was rented out as student accommodation for a few years. In 2012 it was bought by Grand Hotel Terminus and the Smørås family, who had great ambitions about giving the old building a new lease of life and offer guests a very special hotel experience. From the report which was commissioned before the restoration works started, it was clear that the interior had particular cultural and historic value, and that it was for the most part so well preserved that it could be used as a starting point for the restoration of the entire building.
Today the villa is completely renovated with much care and respect for its rich history. Architects Claesson Koivisto Rune designed the interior and have filled the building with timeless Norwegian and Nordic design. All furniture was bought from specially chosen manufacturers, classic pieces from the 1900s and up to the present day were sourced from antique shops all over Scandinavia.
“We are often associated with the ultramodern, but we also love the historical quality,” the architects say. “We like to think of Villa Terminus as a timeless place. The building in itself tells the story of its roots, and the interior should tell stories from different ages – some things are modernistic, some belong to the present. Timelessness is in the quality and the distinctly Scandinavian atmosphere.”
Rooms dedicated to writers
In the most beautiful room upstairs, with views to the mountain as well as Løvstakken, there is a library which the guests are welcome to use. In keeping with the Smørås family’s aim to promote art and culture, all 18 rooms in Villa Terminus are dedicated to a writer from the West Coast, chosen in cooperation with Bergen’s public library. Their books are available to borrow during the stay, and if you want to you can buy it at a set price. In the library there are also books on Nordic design, famous people from Bergen, suggested walks in and around the city and information about the history of Bergen. There is also a small section with children’s books from Bergen.
In this small and intimate villa hotel there are also cosy lounges and salons with original features. Guests can always help themselves to coffee and tea.
Enjoy the feeling of being in your own little world here at Villa Terminus – with the vibrant city just around the corner.