Banoo and I took a trip to Norway earlier this month, quite unexpectedly! We planned last minute, and by some stroke of luck we were able to book a week in the incredible Juvet Landscape Hotel. We were looking for a place to escape for a few days, turn off the iPhones and laptops, and really enjoy some peace and quiet. After our Paris flat was broken into last month, we were both feeling super negative about humankind in general and thought the restorative qualities of pure, unspoiled nature would help us face the world again. I took so many photos that it took a month to go through them all. Seriously, if you've not been to Northwest Norway, get get get!
The "hotel" is actually 7 (soon to be more) individual cabins arranged thoughtfully to blend in with the nature in the Valldal region of Norway. Each was designed by the award-winning Norwegian architects Jensen & Skodvin and is essentially a low-impact wooden box with one or two walls made entirely of glass. The impression intended is to feel that nature is rushing in at you as you step into the room. It works.
The wood has been kept dark and the interiors are sparse, save for a bed and a pair of comfortable chairs. The only pop of colour is the bright yellow bathroom, which of course I loved, seeing as yellow is my favourite colour. The only sound is the rushing of the river a few metres below you, and the occasional trill of a bird. There is no telly, no wifi, and no computers. We both read our books (sometimes laying in the sun outside on the chaises) and hiked and explored every day.
The owner, Knut, found this spot and converted the abandoned barn and home into a comfortable home and communal dining hall, where guests mingle over traditional Norwegian food, prepared freshly. We tried whale carpaccio. We ate reindeer steak and deer sausage. We had the saltiest klippfisk on Earth, served with paper-thin bread baked by the 97 year-old granny the next farm over. Locally-brewed beers were offered, and after pudding, all was washed down with strong, hot coffee. We met some lovely people- a Norwegian couple who could have been supermodels (yet were a social anthropologist and oncologist- still not too shabby!). We met a young couple, both architects, trying to set up their own practice and visiting Juvet for a bit of inspiration. We met three more architects, also on a work trip to do some research, one of whom I instantly clicked with and whose great style, raucous laugh, and wild white hair made me hope I could be a tiny bit that cool when I am older. Of course, the owner Knut was lovely as well, providing us with maps and recommendations, and generally being lovely. We enjoyed playing with his friendly dog, Lucy, who loved nothing more than tug-of-war with any available object, sometimes even the barn cat Lucifer!
After exploring all day, stuffing ourselves senseless, and chatting away the night we would trek down the small hill to the "spa", where a steam room and sauna overlook the river directly, and a hot tub on the deck outside is the perfect antidote for tired feet.
The days whizzed by, and unfortunately it seemed we had to go far too soon. At first I thought living without phones, computers, Instagram (blogging!) and all the other distractions would be difficult, but it's surprising how little you really need to be completely satisfied. We cut thick slices of bread from a warm loaf in the mornings and layered it with Norwegian brown cheese and lots of butter. We wrapped them in wax paper and packed them into our bags. We set off up mountains and when our water bottles emptied, we filled them from the rushing streams that were found around every bend. I thought I might get restless, but not once! I slept like a baby, I ate like a pig, and I inhaled Norway in huge nose-fulls. Glorious.