Our Stay: The Magnificent Solstrand Hotel, Os, Norway
Walking around the grounds of The Solstrand Hotel is like stepping into a storybook set on what has to be one of the most beautiful and relaxing properties in all of Norway. With perfectly manicured grass that’s so green it looks fake, and richly-colored flowers in different shades of pinks and reds, the only thing that could make the outside of this historic hotel more picturesque is if it had a crystal clear view of the nearby fjord. Lucky for us, it does.
Solstrand Hotel & Bad sits on the shore of Bjørnefjorden, in the town of Os- an easy forty-five minute drive from downtown Bergen. The ideal retreat, this luxury hotel consists of 135 individually-styled rooms, a fantastic on-site restaurant and a top-rated spa. We stayed in one of the Deluxe Rooms facing South-West which offered a very nice, unobstructed view of both the fjord and the elegant property gardens.
The building that our room was house in was built in the 1990’s, however the original house of Solstrand, which is still a functioning portion of the hotel, was constructed in 1895. Our room featured traditional Norwegian wood furnishings, typical of a country house in the area, with cozy, bright-white bedding and art that tastefully reflects the maritime heritage of the region. The hotel has been in the Schau-Larsen family for three generations and we met with the most pleasant and informative host Pernille, a current owner, who gave us the history of the accommodation. Pernille is the granddaughter of Marie Schau, the woman who took over the hotel in 1931 from Christian Michelsen, the original owner, who was also the first Prime Minister of independent Norway. Despite the worldwide Great Depression and the widespread effects of World War II, Marie managed to keep Solstrand alive putting the well-being of her family, staff and guests before anything else. Almost a century later, the hotel is flourishing with visits from tourists coming from all over the globe as well as an international team of hardworking and helpful staff.
I can say whole-heartedly that the food we enjoyed at Solstrand was, by a landslide, the best that we had in the entire country of Norway. We were seated by the window, in one of the smaller, more private rooms of the dining area, at a candlelit table draped in white linens. For dinner, we were served a carefully-crafted, three-course meal consisting of farm-fresh vegetables, cheeses, meat and fish, all of which were full with flavor.
My first two dishes were a Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, and then a Mushroom Risotto, which was impeccably paired with a sweet white wine. Everything was as good as it gets, which was a nice surprise for me, as true Scandinavian cuisine doesn’t generally offer a ton of options for Vegetarians. Solstrand’s menu, however, focuses more on an international audience, but still puts weight on some popular Norwegian delicacies, so I was in luck. Ryan ordered a Tenderloin of Pork that was served with sautéed spinach as well as whipped sweet potatoes- all of which he said was extraordinary, and he washed it down with a bold Chianti Rufina.
The kids were offered plates of assorted grilled vegetables which were served with a side of buttery mashed potatoes that I couldn’t help but try. For all of us, the meal earned a ten-out-of-ten, even before we got to dessert. There was a large table set up in the main dining room with various cakes, pastries, and puddings that we had to choose from. The mini creme brûlée served in tiny glass cups with strawberries was our favorite and Ryan and I enjoyed ours with a hot cappuccino each.
Breakfast in the morning was just as good and eating by the window with the sun shining down over the lawn and onto the fjord in the distance was the perfect accompaniment to the meal.
Having waded in Iceland’s geothermal Blue Lagoon just days before arriving at Solstrand, the bar had been set pretty high when it comes to spa experiences. Needless to say, the hotel did not disappoint. Just like the Blue Lagoon, people were required to shower before entering any of the spa’s pools (which, as I’ve said before, I loved the concept and wish more pools here in the U.S. would take on the rule as I typically avoid any form of public pools/hot tubs… but these were special occasions).
With a strong focus on both hygiene and energy efficiency, Solstrand utilizes heat pump technology to use seawater for all heating and cooling purposes. There is a state-of-the-art environmentally-friendly system which is used for water recycling, reducing water and energy needs. One-hundred percent of the flushing water in the pools is UV sterilized and recycled and all disinfectants for the pools are made on-site by electrolyses of water and salt.
The kids enjoyed swimming in the regular, indoor pool but that was way too cold for me…I’m a total wuss and have learned that I’m only really comfortable if the water is a very warm 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or 32+ degrees Celsius. Fortunately, we discovered the amazing outdoor heated infinity pool which not only felt heavenly but was perched on the hill of the resort with stunning views of the fjord. Getting out to the pool was one of the coolest things about it— There are a few steps from the inside of the spa that go down into the water.
From there, in the water itself, there are sliding glass doors that opened when we pulled a special lever, leading us into a cave-like tunnel that continues onto the outdoor pool. There, looking out, we were immediately greeted by the silhouette of the fjord which was straight ahead of us, only a few miles away. It happened to be lightly raining while we were outside and the cool sprinkle of the raindrops on our shoulders in contrast to the heat of the pool was magical. The grey skies with the steam of the water rising up made it look like we were in yet another mystical lagoon and the whole experience was incredible for all of us.
If you’re looking for the ultimate European escape into nature, elegance, beauty and tranquility, Solstrand Hotel & Spa is the place for you. The bright yellow building with quintessential Norwegian timber paneling, accented with thoughtfully arranged floral gardens, will lift your mood upon arrival and you will see why a getaway full of peace and relaxation at Solstrand is inevitable.
A traveler since childhood, Juliana Fraioli Wilson has always had a love for exploring. She is a published writer and an accomplished business owner with a background in music and art. Join Juliana, her husband Ryan, and their two kids in Wanderland! Follow along as they share tips, tricks, recipes and reviews from some of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.