Norway’s hidden luxury hotels

Not always the most obvious destination when you think of a luxury hotel, Norway and the Nordics have a reputation for minimalist design, simplicity and functionality. However, on her recent trip, Rachel Pennycook was surprised to find some hidden gems which bucked the trend. Below, she brings to light some fabulous Norwegian hotels located in the country's southern fjord region and explains why they should be considered on your next trip to the Norwegian fjords.


Bergen is often known as the "gateway to the fjords", and it was to be the start of my journey to explore some of the beautiful hotels located within this region. The flight into Bergen is up there as one of my favourites – as you pass over a cluster of islands, it is well worth pre-booking a window seat for the view. The shuttle bus from the airport to the town is located directly outside the arrivals exit, so it's very simple to get you right into the heart of Bergen. I did not have long to explore this city, but I was fortunate enough to have a sunny day, so I prioritised catching the cable car so I could look out over Bergen and admire the autumnal colours in the sky. I visited the Edvard Munch museum, which whilst not housing his most famous work the Scream, does have the 3rd largest collection in the world with some thought provoking pieces. I just had time to visit the iconic fisherman’s wharf and pop into the Christmas shop to pick up some gifts before we headed off.

Rachel in Bergen

Britannia Trondheim

My adventure began on a unique note – at the renowned Hotel Britannia in Trondheim. With a friendly doorman greeting me at the entrance, I was ushering into the inviting and elegant lobby. My room was a marvel of tasteful décor, with all the modern conveniences imaginable. A detail I particularly cherished – especially given the Norwegian climate – was the heated bathroom floor!

After checking in, I ventured out to explore the city's colourful wharfs, captivating cathedral with stunning stained glass windows and the breathtaking views from Kristiansten Fortress. All of this is within stone's throw of the hotel, so if you're looking to be right in amongst it on a city break, this is ideal. To unwind after my explorations, I enjoyed a relaxing swim in the hotel's pool, followed by a relaxing session in the spa's saunas and jacuzzi. As I settled in for the evening, I was surprised to find a discreetly hidden TV within the mirror – a clever design touch.

The next morning, the hotel's legendary breakfast was a much-anticipated experience, but unfortunately, my incredibly early flight forced me to miss it. Thankfully, the thoughtful night staff prepared a takeaway breakfast for me, ensuring I wouldn't start my journey hungry. However, if you're planning a stay in Trondheim, the beautifully presented breakfast offering should tip the scales in favour of a stay at the Britannia.

Palmehaven – location of the hotel's five star breakfast offering

Hotel Elva

Our journey south from Bergen led us to the stunning Hotel Elva in Voss. Sunshine bathed the hotel during our stay, adding to the magic (though I can't take credit for that!). Comprising of a main complex with 5 mini houses, you get fantastic views over the lake Lunda and modern design features throughout. It's a perfect stopover if you're touring the western fjords and offers a tranquil escape between Oslo and Bergen. Once I'd settled in, we embarked on a relaxing hike behind the hotel, culminating in a delightful experience - a crackling fire, followed by delicious Snobrod with hot chocolate. To cap off the perfect evening, we soaked in the jacuzzis as the sun dipped behind the majestic mountains. The restaurant lays beside the river, with the glass facades adding to the experience. Food is a cornerstone of the Elva experience, and locally sourced ingredients shone through in every dish. The duck and goat cheese salad was the best I've ever had, and the lamb for dinner was melt-in-your-mouth tender. A continental breakfast fuelled us for the next leg of our adventure.

Jacuzzis on the terrace, Hotel Elva

Solstrand Hotel & Bad

Our next stop on the trip was the Solstrand Hotel & Bad, just 30 km from Bergen. Built back in 1896, it's a throwback to the days before Scandi minimalist design, with bags of character and an unmistakable Norwegian soul. Luckily, the sun continued to shine down on us and this hotel has great fjord views from almost every space. The star here however, is their spa, with floor to ceiling windows looking over the fjord, it’s own infinity pool and for a truly invigorating experience (if you’re brave enough) take a plunge in the fjord directly from the hotel's pier. The food was lovely, but the service is what truly shone for me here. I had neglected to tell the organisers of the trip about an intolerance I have which unfortunately meant I could not eat the dessert they offered. I accepted that I’d just do without a course here or have some fruit instead, but the chef created me my own personalised desert at the drop of a hat.

Views of the fjord at Solstrand Hotel & Bad