Back in the days when all roads led to St Olav’s resting place in the cathedral in Nidaros, modern day Trondheim, kings and pilgrims alike crossed the Dovre mountain and found a bed for the night at Kongsvold. Many still do.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Marianne Ramstad Malone
Kongsvold was given official status as fjellstue or mountain inn in 1670 and offered food and lodging for all manner of travelling folk. Norwegian poet and travel writer Åsmund Olavsson Vinje described it in 1860:
“I was given a good, but unusual meal for twelve shillings, for they thought I must be a travelling tailor,” he wrote. But when they found out who he was, one of the servant girls said: “Had we known who you were, you would have been charged more for the fare.” Vinje continues laconically: “When they are placed in such a thoroughfare, they have to treat different people differently and I do not blame them.”
Hospitality has proud traditions at Kongsvold, and today you will hardly be treated according to your rank or position, but warmly welcomed at a historic hotel in classic, original buildings which all tell their own story. Vinje has his Vinjestue cabin named after him, and room number two in the main house was named in honour of Danish Queen Margrethe, after she visited Kongsvold with Norwegian Crown Princess – now Queen – Sonja.
“The room has magnificent views of the mountains and is popular with newlyweds,” says host Knut J. Nyhus, second generation Nyhus at Kongsvold. His parents ran the hotel until Knut and his wife Ellen took over in 1998.
Reindeer, musk ox and grouse
Kongsvold Fjeldstue has developed over time and had extensive restoration works done in partnership with the Directorate for Cultural Heritage between 1979 and 1989. The stately buildings tell of great wealth at Kongsvold in the past. They are one of the best examples of the unmistakably Norwegian building style in the hospitality business and are now listed. Many guests think it is especially nice to stay in Fantstua or Vinjestua huts, where two couples or a family can have their own little house and also have access to the lounges, Kroa café and the Kongsvold dining room with its culinary delights. Expert chefs develop new and exciting dishes all the time, most of them based on local and regional produce – including musk ox, which was introduced to the Dovre mountains in the 1930s. All ingredients are cured, smoked, marinated and transformed into delicious dishes. The mountain almond potatoes come from nearby Driva, angelica and rhubarb from the hotel’s own garden. Other delicacies are reindeer, mountain trout, moose, deer and musk ox, but also mushrooms and herbs. Even reindeer moss becomes a culinary treat alongside the local game and poultry, all served on white plates on white tablecloths.
“Sometimes one of the musk ox from the mountain wanders down to populated areas. When they do they can be lawfully put down and we can buy the meat to make delicious musk ox pâté and carpaccio,” says Nyhus. All the food is naturally complemented with drinks from Kongsvold’s abundant cellar.
Kongsvold Fjeldstue has been awarded Olavsrosa, Norwegian Cultural Heritage’s seal of quality, and is a member of the cultural association Luggumt. In 2011 Kongsvold won the Ganefart award as the best place to eat in four of the central counties in Norway. Kongsvold Fjeldstue is also mentioned in the Rough Guide travel guides as one of the best places to eat and stay in Norway.