It feels like stepping hundreds of years back in time, to the grandest royal estate – the old timber houses high up in the mountain side and the magnificent views of the Gudbrandsdalen valley are like something out of a fairy tale.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Marianne Ramstad Malone
With its 25 old timber buildings, Sygard Grytting is one of the best preserved farms in the Gudbrandsdalen valley. Here is a unique opportunity to step over the threshold and breathe in the atmosphere from a different time, like the walls themselves are steeped in history.
The farm has probably belonged to the same family since the 1300s. Stig Grytting and his wife Hilde took over in 1989 and are very conscious of the responsibility of preserving such a valuable cultural heritage. Over the last 25 years the lodgings have been carefully restored. They wanted to keep the original feel as well as adapt to the modern expectations of comfort and hygiene. The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments rewarded their efforts with the 1995 Heritage Protection award, and they have also earned the Olavsrosa, Norwegian Cultural Heritage’s seal of quality.
Hotel with a long history
The farm has received travellers for 700 years, and today guests can stay in one of five original dwellings. They vary between stately rooms with decorative paint and wallpaper, and rustic, unpainted timber walls. No matter the choice of room, guests are treated to a rare glimpse into a home and a genuine historical estate with timber buildings added to the farm when needed and used in approximately the same way today. The fields and outbuildings are still being used in active farming with sheep and grain, hay production and forestry.
The main farm houses, built in the period between 1650 and 1860, and the farm-hand’s lodge, Karstugu, offer twelve guest rooms, all en suite. Guests can stay in the room dedicated to Norwegian writer and Nobel Literature laureate Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, with wallpaper from 1840 and a large portrait of the great man himself hanging over a huge iron bed. The 60 square metre Karstugu lodge has a kitchen for self-catering. The building has outside stairs up to the sleeping quarters with four wide beds, but inside stairs have been added for convenience. The ground floor has a large open fireplace, long table, bathroom and WC.
Another building next to Karstugu also contains four distinctive bedrooms, all en suite.
When the pilgrim trail from Oslo to Trondheim was reopened in 1997 to coincide with the city of Trondheim’s millennium celebrations, the hosts at Sygard Grytting decided to restore the old langloft, built before 1350. Today this is a practically mandatory stop for pilgrim wanderers, because it’s the only remnant of a pre-Reformation hostel on the whole trail. It is also the largest medieval loft in the country. Guests bring their own sleep sack or sleeping bag and snuggle up under the skin rugs in the old beds. In the hostel there is also a large communal dining room. In 2008 the Directorate for Cultural Heritage gave their permission for two delicately installed bathrooms in the hall upstairs. Pilgrims have access to a kitchen in a different building, called Fantstugu. There is also a distinct guest room which can be used when it is cold or when there is a private function at the hotel.
The hall in the old main building from the end of the 1600s is used for meetings and celebration dinners. The dragon style library can accommodate up to 12 people as a meeting room. Meals can be served in the cellar under the main building. There is a brewhouse and wine cellar over two floors.
The hosts aim to make the food and meals to match and complement the surroundings and enhance the experience. In the evening guests are invited to the long table in the dining room, with fine candelabras, beautiful flowers and delicious homemade food based on local tradition and specialities. Most of the ingredients come from the farm itself or the area around it, and all dishes are made from scratch. Hostess Hilde is passionate about traditional food, and the menu offers lamb, moose and reindeer, fish from mountain lakes, and fruit and berries from the farm’s own abundant garden. She also has a unique talent for conjuring up the most marvellous soups for starters, lunch or supper.
The choice is yours – a stately stay in national romantic surroundings, or simple and rustic pilgrim lodgings.
Whatever you choose, you can look forward to a historic trip back in time.