Store Ringheim Hotel and restaurant
There is something very special about eating traditional dishes like smalahove – a smoked sheep’s head – or salted mutton ribs in a cosy room in an old hay barn. It doesn’t get much more Norwegian than that, according to the hosts at Store Ringheim Hotell and restaurant at Voss.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Darius Adomaitis
They have brought this concept into the kitchen of the farm’s à la carte restaurant. Jorunn and Svein Ringheim are passionate about Norwegian food and drink, and the hotel’s chefs cook everything from scratch using local organic ingredients where possible. At Voss there is a huge production of lamb, and Store Ringheim are happy to serve Vossa-lamb from Voss Gårdsslakteri butchers, which also supplies beef and pork from pigs that roam outdoors. Voss and the rest of the west coast is a treasure trove of local quality produce. In the autumn there are mushrooms and berries, and deer hunters supply venison from the forests of Voss. Salted mutton ribs, a typical Christmas treat, and sausages and cured meats are made from old farm recipes, and true to tradition everything is smoked over alder wood. Book in advance to be certain of sampling genuine traditional fare.
The food is not the only deeply Norwegian feature of this beautiful, historic hotel. Situated in harmonious surroundings a few kilometres from Voss itself, this farm was originally the main part of Store Ringheim, the biggest of the Ringheim farms. Store Ringheim er now divided into three large and several smaller farms. People have farmed here since they first settled more than two thousand years ago. There are a few burial mounds on the property and iron age artefacts have been found here.
After the Black Death the farm was partly owned by the church and partly farmed by tenants. The main farm was bought by the recent owner’s ancestor, Johannes Olavsson Hole in 1778, and as was the custom, he took the name Ringheim after the farm. Today’s owners took over in 1990 and transformed the property from traditional farming to a hotel and restaurant. Everything has been renovated and restored with great care, and old local architectural traditions have been given a modern twist. The interior plays on contrasts; slate floors, clean white surfaces and old timber walls, and magnificent artworks decorate the rooms. The hotel cooperates with several artists and most of the art on display is for sale.
Today there are six comfortable and unique rooms at the hotel, each with a large en suite tiled bathroom and everything that’s expected from a modern hotel room. None of the rooms have numbers, that would be too impersonal, says Jorunn and Svein, as the house is an important part of their lives. Instead they have named them after what they used to be: the Kjøken used to be the kitchen, Kammerset was an upstairs bedroom and Øpstelemmen is the whole loft, now with a double bed, two single beds and a bathroom. Lemmen was the grandmother’s room upstairs and Stovo was the farmer’s lounge. Eldhuset is the oldest part of the hotel, a house with an open fireplace which was originally the main building on the farm until great-great-grandfather Peder Ringheim extended it in the 1860s. It now has a pretty rose painted bed. The hosts are planning to build another nine rooms and also a chapel with stained glass.
But for now you can relax and unwind on the large terrace with fantastic views and a lovely garden.