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Stay: in and around Ålesund (Alesund); the 5 most beautiful (hotel) stays

Ålesund, or Alesund if you have a non-Scandinavian keyboard. I had never been there! And as many of you are now aware, I've been living in Norway for about 8 years. It wasn't until the first summer of the pandemic that I truly began exploring the country. For a year, it was impossible to visit my family, and I had the (if I may use the term in this context) "luck" of being forced to spend my vacation days within the country's borders.

The thing with this country is that it's too vast to just hop somewhere for a weekend without taking a flight. And my ambivalence towards flying is significant. I'd prefer never to step on a plane ever again, but due to family illness, it's unfortunately the only way to move between countries quickly. But I digress. That's why it wasn't until this year (2023) that I ended up in (Å) Alesund, yet not even in a hotel. And let's start at the end (or scroll straight down for my hotel recommendations).

Ålesund Norway

I had a few hours to spare before my flight back to Oslo. It was a sun-drenched day, around 24 degrees Celsius. Not exceptionally hot, but because Ålesund is right on the Atlantic Ocean, it can get a bit unpredictable here. I checked my luggage and had about 3 hours to enjoy. It was a bit too cumbersome to go back to Ålesund (Alesund). So, I decided to head to one of the beautiful sandy beaches just a stone's throw away from the airport.

And here's something most people don't know: Norway has numerous stunning, snow-white sandy beaches. The ocean, especially on the west coast, is often ice-cold, but take it from me; once you flip a mental switch, focus on your steady breathing, and experience the adrenaline rush of the cold water, you won't want to do anything else. Long story short, I went for a swim instead of hanging around at the terminal. So, I arrived at the gate with sand between my toes.

Ålesund itself is a very, very charming little town (you say 'Oooohllesuun' not 'Aeelesuhnd'). The Art Nouveau buildings give the facades a stately appearance. There are a ton of lovely restaurants, and it's a bustling hub for fast ferries serving the surrounding islands. But above all, it's the location that makes this city so extraordinary.

While sipping a coffee by the waterfront, you can gaze out over the sea on one side and gaze at an alpine landscape with steep peaks, partially snow-covered throughout the year, on the other. Especially on clear days, this creates an overall spectacle that, in my opinion, is unique in the world. It might sound a bit cliche, but I've become accustomed to mountain peaks and fjords, yet the surroundings of Ålesund truly belong to a different category.

That's why I thought it appropriate to guide you through this area by presenting the most spectacular accommodations. Places with views where you can leisurely take in the stunning surroundings. Because that's ultimately one of the main reasons you come to this breathtaking country. I'll dedicate a separate article to the highlights (literally) you can reach by car. But, as mentioned, let's start with your accommodation because that's what sets the tone for your travel experience.

I previously mentioned the Art Nouveau buildings characterizing Ålesund. Exactly that elegance can be found at Hotel 1904. I always find it a bit complicated to use superlatives like "the best" or "the most beautiful" or "the loveliest" when I'm not talking about my girlfriend. So, I'll proceed with caution. This is one of the most beautiful and elegant hotels in all of Norway. Quite nuanced, don't you think? In previous stories, I hinted that I used to work as an interior designer. I can confidently say that I have a sort of professional eye for interior spaces. I immediately notice the materials used—not just the curtains but also the baseboards and the flooring. Then comes composition and lighting. But, well, I won't bore you with that. But if you even slightly appreciate beautifully designed spaces, book a few nights here. Especially during the darker months, this place is an oasis of perfectly styled contemporary coziness. I walked in during the summer out of curiosity, precisely because of what I just described. I was impressed, as well as by the staff, who welcomed me with understated warmth, despite the fact that I had a huge backpack on my back and was wearing flip-flops. Not exactly the typical attire for the clientele that usually populates the lobby here. All in all, I didn't stay here overnight because it's not budget-friendly for a simple blogger like me. But the beds are probably some of the best you can sleep on in Norway. Let me know how it is if you spend a night here. I’d love to hear.

Now, from one extreme to another. Unfortunately, you'll have to take a little drive for this one, as it's about a two-hour drive from Ålesund. But if you consider that everything is about a two-hour drive in Norway, it's actually quite reasonable. This is one of those places you won't find on lists of "hotels in Ålesund" or other "best ofs" or "must-sees." That's because most bloggers are too lazy to get off their backsides and provide genuinely useful information to unsuspecting travelers looking for incredible experiences. It's all about clickbait, and then you find yourself lining up for Trolltunga to take the exact same picture as the rest of the world and get a few easily-forgotten likes. You might sense some frustration here. And that's correct. There are so many amazing places that don't appear in any blog post but offer unparalleled experiences that will last a lifetime. That's why I'd like to take you to Kråen Gård. In a remote corner, at the end of a dead-end road, stands a beautiful farm dating back to the early 17th century. Here, you can stay in all modern, Instagram-worthy splendor. Be prepared to witness the most incredible sea view you've ever seen in your life. Furthermore, the farm shop is of unparalleled quality. Amazing jams, apple cider, and fantastic cakes. Cakes I can no longer allow myself to eat since I'm over 30, and many of my shirts no longer fit from five years ago. But I digress. Where at the beginning of this piece I wrote that I rarely use superlatives, I'm doing it here. This is a fantastic place. The view, the set up, the remoteness. If I had to put it boldly; I’d say it’s Norway in a nutshell. Due to their limited capacity, accommodations often sell out quickly here. So, it's essential to reserve well in advance. And oh, what lovely people!

I sometimes wonder who we'll still be talking about 100 years from now. Which writers stood the test of time? Which presidents left the world better than they found it? Which films became classics? Hotel Union Øye at least answers some of those questions by mentioning some former guests who enjoyed their breakfast here in the past century. Among them, Emperor Wilhelm (that illustrious figure with the peculiar arm), Karen Blixen ordered eggs Benedict, and Roald Amundsen had a glass of whiskey before or after reaching the North Pole as a reward for his efforts. Depending on where in the world you're reading this blog, this may or may not mean anything to you. I'm writing this with a European perspective, after all. What's undeniable is that Hotel Union Øye is on a list of places with exceptional allure. It initially reminded me of the Dalen Hotel, which I wrote about earlier. It's again one of those magical places that make you wonder how on earth you can have such an exceptional stay in such a relatively remote location. But that's precisely the appeal in the case of such locations, it's the breathtaking natural surroundings that truly make this hotel a destination in its own right. Besides its incredibly atmospheric interior, the walls here also whisper tales of history. If only those walls could tell us the secrets exchanged by European elites in these corridors, we’d probably have a bit of a different view on the historic events that shaped European history. The hotel is located approximately a 2-hour drive from Ålesund. As I mentioned before, that's relatively close by Norwegian standards. My favorite seasons for such places are autumn or winter, owing to the incredible coziness that permeates this hotel.

Now, back to urban settings. There's another hotel in Ålesund that I haven't mentioned, but true connoisseurs would never forgive me if I didn't; Hotel Brosundet. Let me share what I find so exceptional about it. Upon entering, you immediately notice a monumental fireplace. Now, that's not my main point, but I wanted to mention it because a public fireplace taps into our basic needs without us often realizing it. The need for warmth and safety is ingrained in our DNA. That's why we're so often drawn to open fires. The fact that so much space is dedicated to a fireplace in a public area and brings people together, I find a beautiful and poetic thought in itself. It's evident that a great deal of thought went into this hotel. Undoubtedly, it's because the hotel is run by a family. This means that all responsibility for the level of hospitality falls on individuals, not on a faceless hotel corporation. Let me highlight a few aspects that make this hotel exceptional (and my apologies in advance to the owners as I'll likely leave out numerous details). Every Wednesday evening, a small and intimate concert takes place by the fireplace. There's a high tea every Saturday with an array of delights. The rooms are incredibly tastefully decorated. No sterile and generic color palettes here, but warm tones and exquisite materials. My interior designer's eye was thoroughly satisfied here. I believe that this hotel in Ålesund is a sort of one-stop-shop. They arrange everything for you to experience the beauty of the Norwegian North-West coast. If I were to win the lottery, I'd spend a week here. Mark my words!

As a counterbalance to all this luxury, I'd like to make one more recommendation. That's for a 10,000-star hotel on a good weather night: under the open sky. As you know, I love camping, and whenever my busy schedule allows, I seize the opportunity to venture into the wilderness with my backpack and tent. The Ålesund area is fantastic for outdoor enthusiasts. From Rikshem, you can almost walk straight into the Sunnmøre Alps. I was there this summer and was deeply impressed by the towering peaks that surrounded me. In about a day, you can walk from Rikshem to Ytre-Trandal (from where you can take the ferry to the other side of the fjord and further towards Ørsta). Along the way, you can set up your tent near Storevannet. For more accommodation options and hiking routes, I recommend thoroughly exploring the DNT Sunmøre website and studying the map. I am worried, for it will probably take a lifetime to explore all the beauty in this part of the country. And I don’t have a lifetime (anymore).

Well, this piece turned out much longer than I initially anticipated. I sincerely hope that my recommendations for beautiful stays in and around Ålesund (remember; it's 'Oohllesuun' not 'Aeelesuhnd') have inspired you to extend your stay in Ålesund a little longer than you initially planned. Please let me know on Instagram what you enjoyed most. **Getting there: If you want to efficiently explore all vastness around Ålesund I would like to advise you to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.


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