One of my favorite spots in Norway is the Dalen Hotel. This 1890s hotel was designed in the so-called Dragon style, a Victorian-era revival of the medieval Viking style. It once served as a popular vacation spot for European royalty and sits at the end of a long canal. Back in the day, guests arrived via steamboat through the locks of the canal. Today you can still take this boat trip, however, most arrive overland and down a terrifying switchback road instead. But the canal is just a short walk from the back door of the hotel where you are confronted with a quintessential Norwegian view or mountain, fir and water.
The exterior of the property is stunning, with so much intricate woodwork, dormers, rooflines and of course, dragon figures.
I was lucky enough to visit last summer, and again this summer. The atmosphere is completely relaxed and very Old World. The spaces feel as though they have never been disturbed, however, this is not the case. The Nazis used the hotel for their own recreation during WWII, and not surprisingly, stripped the hotel of almost everything of value upon their departure.
Luckily, the property was fully restored in the 80s and early 90s by what I can only assume is one of Norway’s only evangelicals that is into speaking in tongues and faith healing, a Mr Samuelsen. The only downside to his efforts are the numerous, slightly creepy photos of him scattered throughout the property.
I adore the replica wallpaper and royal portraits-
There is excellent antique furniture, charming woodwork and lovely painted ceilings-
Last summer I visited before the high-season and it was very quiet in the public spaces. There were certain moments I might have just barely believed in the dark and tragic ghost story… an English tourist travelling alone had a stillbirth in room 17. She told no-one, left the baby’s body and returned to England where she was arrested for murder. Distraught, she committed suicide and promptly returned to Norway to haunt the Dalen Hotel ever after. The hotel has a small table permanently set for her in the dining room, and room 17 is equipped with an antique cradle for full effect.
All photos by me, for more information or to book, please visit the Dalen Hotel website.