Rjukan Admini Hotel
One of Norway’s finest wooden art nouveau buildings from the early 1900s, with hipped roof, columns and curved bays, became famous when it was used as the director’s house in the TV series The Saboteurs. Today Rjukan Admini is a beautiful historic hotel.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Elisabeth Haig Jacobsen
Admini is linked to the beginning of the immense and revolutionary industrial development in the small rural communities Notodden and Rjukan. Entrepreneur Sam Eyde’s vision of “having the waterfall do useful work for the people” was the start of what would become energy company Norsk Hydro and an industrial fairy tale on a scale Norway had never seen before. Sam Eyde is considered the founder of both Norsk Hydro and Rjukan. He was a visionary man who put the forces of nature to work in a way that can only be called a revolution – the second industrial revolution.
Rjukan’s industrial history is so unique that it is now on UNESCO’s world heritage list with nearby Notodden; it’s the story of water being transformed to electric power on its way from the mountain to the sea, of electricity making it possible to start a processing industry and create jobs for the people, of the birth of the welfare state.
Sam Eyde and Norsk Hydro needed a first class formal residence to secure the enormous amount of capital that was required to build and develop their project.
That’s how Admini came to be. Built by Sam Eyde in 1908, designed by Thorvald Astrup, one of the most prominent architects of the time. Sam Eyde stayed at Admini when he visited Rjukan, as did directors and important officials who travelled here.
As Norsk Hydro’s formal residence it has also hosted many prominent and royal guests through the ages. Norwegian King Haakon stayed here when he opened the Rjukanbanen railway in 1909, his son and heir, Olav, stayed here when he was still Crown Prince. The Shah of Iran and Farah Diba stayed at Admini when they visited Rjukan in 1961, and both Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Norwegian Queen Sonja have stayed here on their way to or from mountain trips to Hardangervidda. For most of us the stately villa has been a well kept secret. Today it is privately owned and has opened its doors as a hotel.
The stately building, which now has protected status, lies in the beautiful Admini park, designed in the style of English romantic parks with paths winding through the trees, a small brook and a lake. The park was opened in 1928 and later got its own music pavilion. The town had the idea for the park, but Norsk Hydro built it. Next to the Admini is a red servant’s house, and a few old storehouses and loft buildings which were moved here from other farms.
Admini is a small and personal hotel, a short distance from the centre of Rjukan, crammed full of history and with a stately atmosphere, stylish décor and an exquisite mix of period furniture and modern comfort. There are 15 rooms; suites, doubles and singles. Some are named after famous people, like the Birkeland suite, named after the physicist Kristian Birkeland, who invented the process of producing nitrogen dioxide for use in fertiliser, which made the Norsk Hydro company such a huge success.
The food is in keeping with the history of the stately villa. The kitchen serves scrumptious traditional gourmet dishes – not super modern or trendy, but the kind of gourmet food we know from the 1990s.
Staying at the Admini is an experience in itself, whether you are a tourist wanting to get closer to recent industry or war history, or you want to arrange an event, a course or conference in a very special place.
The Admini hotel offers not just a piece of world heritage but a unique piece of world history.