With a rich history dating back over 100 years, Solstrand Hotel & Spa sits just under an hours drive from Bergen and is surrounded by magnificent views of fjords, mountains, glaciers, and islands.
Coming down the driveway to the hotel, we instantly spotted the gorgeous yellow of the hotel, surrounded by the greens of foliage and the blues of the fjord.
The hotel dates back to 1896, founded by the first Norwegian prime minister, Christian Michelsen, as a hotel where rich guests could arrive for a luxury break to feel like a ‘King for a day’. Solstrand was to become a resort where the highly sophisticated visited to enjoy sea bathing and healthy outdoor life.
In 1903, experienced English travel writer Charles W. Wood visited Solstrand and published a short travelogue, ‘Norwegian By-Ways’. His text perfectly summarises his arrival to Solstrand:
“Spread before us was one of the loveliest, and most wonderful of views. A long stretch of heath beautiful in colour, soft and springy to the tread. Right and left the coast sloped in broken, romantic outlines. An immense landlocked bay slept and shimmered in the sunshine. We stood spell-bound. The view had come upon us so suddenly that it affected one like magic, dazzling sight, and sense… Above all, there was something infinitely restful and soothing and peaceful about Solstrand and the fjord; a world of repose.”
In more recent times, the hotel has been successfully run by four generations of women of the same family. Each of the directors has a hands-on approach at the hotel. It is not unusual to find one of them pouring coffee, welcoming guests or sharing Solstrand’s history and heritage. We enjoyed the chance to chat with Pernille and her mother who were both so friendly, warm and hospitable.
Whilst at the hotel, we were privileged to receive an in-depth tour from marketing manager Karoline. Karoline showed us around both old and new parts of the hotel, the various rooms, spa and for a walk around the grounds.
The attention to detail throughout the hotel is exquisite. Cosy nooks to hide away and read by an open fire, plentiful lounges to sit and relax with friends and beautiful bedrooms, each decorated with tasteful art selected by the hotel directors. You could easily take hours admiring all of the artwork, antiques and intricate hotel features.
Solstrand is a place to relax and unwind, a place where families come together, celebrations are marked and laughter is shared. Whilst we were at the hotel, there were several meetings going on, conferences and celebrations. The hotel is full of life, warmth and love.
During our stay at the hotel, we slept in a deluxe room facing southwest. These rooms are the closest to the fjord and have two sets of windows, offering views of both the fjord and the gardens. The room was very comfortable and had all the amenities we could need.
With two sets of lounge chairs to sit and enjoy the view or read, we were able to enjoy the changing sunlight and perspectives from both angles.
Combining nature and the elements Solstrand is a place where the sea meets the land with a seamless transition between the fjord and the hotel.
We walked along by the still fjord on the beautiful boardwalk, where the iron-rich rocks are beautifully layered with blues, oranges and reds. The water was so still and calm, the air fresh and clear. The patterned railings that skim the fjord’s edge have been commissioned by a local artist to reflect the lines seen in nature and have also been mirrored within the hotel interior, taking the outdoors inside.
The grounds, perfectly manicured even in winter, consisted of rich moss-greens and beautiful shrubs. From the garden, you can view the bright hotel in all its glory. The yellow, a breath of bright fresh air on a cloudy day.
A more recent addition to the hotel, the spa is unlike any I have visited, inviting guests to enjoy the holistic Scandinavian approach to wellness. The interior is decorated to reflect Nordic purity and simplicity with stone, wood, glass, slate and running water to harmonize with the landscape.
Peaceful tranquillity awaited us as we enjoyed the beauty and rich variety of the spa, shared only with one other couple the whole time we were there. Vast panes of glass allow you to see the magnificent fjord view from the water. The main swimming pool, adorned with lights like stars is adjacent to the large massage pool, heated to 35-degrees, where you can enjoy the bubbles and jets with comfortable seating.
In keeping with the Scandinavian bathing rituals, Solstrand’s three saunas are each heated to different temperatures and set to different humidities, enabling you to transition your body through cycles of hot and cold.
Taking the steps down into the 34-degree pool and opening the sliding doors you find yourself in a tunnel that enables you to swim through to the open air.
Perhaps the most enjoyable element of the Solstrand spa experience for me was the outdoor infinity pool. It was so incredible to be outside, in the rain, looking out across the fjord, whilst also being warm and relaxed.
If a swim in colder waters takes your fancy, you can take the steps down from the wellness centre to the pier, where you can take a refreshing swim in the fjord. As you make your way outside, enjoy the gallery of local art as you head towards the fjord.
Breathe in the salty air, so fresh and crisp, such a contrast to that of the city.
Combining traditional Scandinavian bath treatments with luxury Swedish products, the treatments are luxurious and relaxing. Whilst at Solstrand, I had the privilege of enjoying their Signature spa treatment, which was 100 minutes of pure pampering.
This treatment cleanses, increases circulation and boosts your energy. It starts with a warm, protein-rich algae and mud wrap in a thermal blanket. While you are wrapped up in the thermal blanket, you receive a glowing facial treatment consisting of cleansing, an algae and mud mask, acupressure therapy and a scalp massage. After scrubbing off the mud wrap, it’s time for 15 minutes in the relaxing mineral bath (which smells incredible) by candlelight. Towards the end of the treatment firming body lotion is applied before the back and neck massage, soothing any aches and pains.
The treatment was a wonderful experience for the senses. Beautifully scented oils, detoxifying mud to draw impurities from the skin, a relaxing mineral bath and an incredible massage, leaving you feeling soft, supple and rested. It is definitely an experience to try out whilst at the hotel.
In addition to the hotel’s beauty, history, luxury and elegance, they also play their part in giving back to the environment, using water from the fjord to heat hotel and spa.
In the evening, we enjoyed a three-course dinner in the hotel restaurant, with a menu carefully considered by the hotel chef using high-quality, fresh ingredients. Each dish was accompanied by a recommended wine, carefully chosen by the sommelier.
For starter, we enjoyed hot smoked cusk with mango chutney, sour cream dressing and pomegranate. The main course was a round of deer from Haugen farm, served with parsnip, sweet potato cream, apple and lingonberry chutney, creamy game sauce and fried potatoes. Finally, for dessert, we had chocolate cake with blackcurrants and mascarpone cream.
The food at Solstrand was of a very high standard and tasted delicious. The restaurant was beautifully presented with fresh floral arrangements and impeccable service. In the morning we enjoyed a very extensive buffet breakfast, with both hot and cold selections; meats, cheeses, fruits, cereals, yoghurts, smoothies, ginger shots, cooked breakfast, pastries and more.
Our stay at Solstrand was one we will never forget. The highlight of the hotel for us was the way the hotel kept its rich history at the heart.
The charm and character of the hotel were greatly complimented by the warmth and friendly nature of the staff, enabling us to feel instantly at home.
Visiting Solstrand was a remarkable experience. The fresh fjord air is like no other. The view was magnificent, and the spa and wellness centre left us feeling revitalised and refreshed. Our experiences of our room, the lounges and the restaurant were amazing and we would love to one day return.
If you are visiting Norway in the near future and would love to explore Bergen’s surroundings, I would definitely recommend Solstrand; a light airy and picturesque house, with the most beautiful of views. You will find yourself staring out of the window all day long!
Our beautiful visit to Solstrand Hotel and Spa, including dinner and spa treatment, was kindly provided by Solstrand in exchange for this review piece. All opinions are my own. I would like to personally thank Karoline and Pernille once again for their kindness and passion, which truly reflected how lovely this hotel is.