Grand Hotel Terminus
The hotel exudes an elegant dignity, you notice it as soon as you step into the reception at Grand Hotel Terminus in Bergen: stately doors and huge oak panels in a dark patina, high ceilings and beautifully carved chairs.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Ine Andrea Ertvaag
The idea of a luxury hotel in international style was conceived in the smoking ruins of the city after the great fire in 1916. The decision was made to build Grand Hotel Terminus on the site of Anna Jebsens Minde, an orphanage founded by industry magnate Peter Jebsen and his wife Anna. The orphanage was moved in 1924, the hotel opened its doors in 1928.
Grand Hotel Terminus was designed by architects Fredrik Arnesen and Arthur Darre Kårbø, who had travelled a lot in Europe to find inspiration. The hotel is built in neoclassical style, magnificent and elegant, like a respectful greeting from the great wide world.
In the Grand Hotel Terminus, Bergen now has a hotel which is clearly built on the best foreign ideals but wisely adapted to Norwegian conditions, the main Bergen newspaper wrote after it was opened.
During WWII the Grand Hotel Terminus was appropriated by the Germans, and with its high standard they soon made it their headquarters. In 1959 it was sold to Bergen Mission hotel and run as a temperance hotel for many years, but it didn’t go very well.
Grand Hotel Terminus set out on a new course when the Smørås family took over in 2006. The hotel had – as the first city hotel – been protected by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage since 1995. The family wanted to bring the hotel back to its former glory and redecorated the rooms one by one, all the time making sure to bring out the quality of the original interior. There are lamps with Murano glass shades, copied from the hotel’s old originals, which had miraculously survived. Guests will feel the distinguished atmosphere and can enjoy all the historic details when they sit down in the lounge with the open fireplace and the famous whisky bar, considered Norway’s best and stocking 1,050 different whiskies. Help yourself to the day’s papers or rest your eyes on the large fireplace or the lattice windows which gives the light a very special quality in the room with its seven metre high ceiling. There are wonderful old parquet floors, chandeliers and historic photographs on the walls, some of the polar hero Roald Amundsen, who spent his very last night on land in this hotel before he left for King’s Bay and lost his life in the attempt to save Umberto Nobile.
In order to cater to the course and conference market, Terminus Hall, the great congress hall and all the smaller conference rooms, meeting rooms and communal areas have been given a careful and considered facelift. The latest addition, the Terminus Forum, is a brave modernist counterpart to the neoclassical main building, and complements Terminus Hall for congresses, cultural events, meetings and functions.
Good food, art and culture
The hotel is renowned for good food, from simple and small tapas meals in the bar to elaborate four or five course banquets. The chefs are passionate about good and genuine flavours and fresh, local produce. On the roof are four beehives where they produce their own honey, which is sold in reception and used in the food – just like the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, The Royal Lancaster in London and Eiffel Park Hotel in Paris do.
Grand Terminus is family owned and completely independent of the large hotel chains. The Smørås family, which also runs other hotels in Bergen, want their hotels to be different from the others, so they decided to share something close to their own hearts – art and culture. This is why you find contemporary art on the walls in meeting rooms and other communal areas, and why each storey is dedicated to one specific artist. They also arrange concerts and shows, opera evenings and wine or whisky tastings.
When they took over the hotel in 2006, it was with a clear promise: They intended to take good care of the unique hotel and develop it further. They have kept their promise.
Today the soul of the hotel is intact and it has won back its previous position as Bergen’s finest.