Basecamp Hotel – In the house of the trapper
Walls covered with driftwood which has followed the ocean currents. Seal skins, maps, pictures and objects illustrate life in the Arctic from the past to the present. Basecamp Hotel is decorated in traditional trapper style to give it an authentic feel.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Karin Beate Nøsterud
This hotel in the heart of Longyearbyen, the northernmost settlement in the world, can accommodate 42 guests in 16 rooms. Opened in 1998, it was the first hotel established by travel company Basecamp Explorer on Svalbard. The driftwood was bought from the Russians in Barentsburg and has been used throughout the interior of the hotel. In spite of the rustic style, the hotel has a high standard, a warm and cosy atmosphere, comfortable beds and warm bathrooms in all rooms, whether it’s a double or a twin. In the treble rooms there are bunk beds, in true trapper spirit, built with wood from a Russian trapper’s station. It also has two suites with separate bedroom, lounge and bathroom. All rooms have views to the town and mountains surrounding the valley around Longyearbyen.
To add to the authentic feel of a trapper’s world, there are no TVs in the rooms. Guests can borrow books from a small library in the lobby and relax in their rooms – or climb up to the Cognac loft, which has a large flat screen TV. The relaxing lounge area is a good place to prepare body and soul for the wilderness outside. A glass roof provides magnificent views of the glittering stars in the Arctic night sky, with dancing northern lights feeding the dreams of polar explorers and heroes of the past.
One of the most important things to do at Svalbard is to take time to experience nature. In the old days trappers came here with dreams of freedom, adventures and a good catch, but had to deal with danger and loneliness in the pursuit of their dream. In Bolterdalen, ten kilometres from Longyearbyen, is the Basecamp Hotel’s Trapper’s station. It is open all year round and invites visitors to tune into the experience of being a trapper in the past. Many of them had secondary stations a few days’ walk from the main station, which they could use when they were hunting or needed shelter from rough weather.
The Trapper’s station is also home to 110 Alaskan huskies raring to go on dogsledding adventures. The Basecamp team is building a new trapper’s station, and the dogs have already got new, architect designed doghouses. The plan is to build ten new stations with exciting design, built and run according to solid sustainability principles.
In 2015, Basecamp Hotel was voted Norway’s Best Hotel by the booking website Hotels.com, and it is a natural choice for all the tourists who have started to flock to Svalbard. Adventures and exotic destinations are highly valued, not just for Norwegians but for explorers from all over the world. The character of Longyearbyen is about to change and traffic to the islands is on the increase, but the main reason why people come to the archipelago is still to experience its natural landscapes.
“Because of this development it is more important than ever that guests in the Arctic learn to treat the vulnerable landscape with care,” says Brita Knutsen Dahl at Basecamp Explorer Spitsbergen. Svalbard is predominantly a wilderness, and one of the most delicately balanced ecosystems in the world. We have to act accordingly and convey this to our guests,” she adds.
Svalbard still holds many secrets and untouched ground where the moon and the northern lights still illuminate magic polar nights.
So why not start your Arctic wilderness adventure here, at the Basecamp Hotel!