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Destination: the cosiest pub and a high-end hotel; two faces of Stavanger

For many travellers, Stavanger acts as a springboard for a jaunt to Preikestolen. Preikestolen (looking a bit like a springboard itself) is a mighty chunk of rock offering a breathtaking vista etc. Anyway, there's a jolly good chance you'll spend an evening or even a night in Stavanger. If you fancy a spot of coffee or a pint, mosey on over to my favourite little café, Hanekam. Amidst the already colourful street, Hanekam (cockscomb in English) stands out as the most vibrant establishment. The patrons consist of regulars, students, and young expats. The atmosphere is relaxed, and you'll strike up conversations in no time. Back in 2016, when I was a lonely immigrant, I sought shelter from a torrential downpour and stumbled upon Hanekam. A British bartender was manning the bar and struck up a chat on instinct. I immediately felt a tad less like a stranger. That's why I've developed a soft spot for Hanekam.

A coastal city in Norway

On far other end of the spectre, but very much worth mentioning is a very, very special hotel. For those who have been following me for a while, it is by now well known that, as a former interior designer, I harbor a great love for design and architecture. When choosing a hotel, I often weigh this, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This was the case in Stavanger as well. One of the most popular architects of the early 20th century was responsible for the design of a gem of a building in the functionalist style (you know, Bauhaus). For some reason, this style resonates with me immensely. To the untrained eye, it may appear as an ordinary modern apartment building. However, when compared to what was common in the early 20th century in terms of construction, you can see how groundbreaking it was. The global economic crisis forced architects to think radically differently about form, function, and material. Hmm, my enthusiasm is getting the better of me again. I was talking about a hotel.

It is now clear that I am attempting to describe the most elegant hotel in Stavanger: Eilert Smith Hotel. While the exterior is a manifestation of functionalism, on the inside, you immediately find yourself in the grandeur of mid-century design. This seems to be a reference to the period when Stavanger became prosperous, consciously or unconsciously. Anyway, in terms of hospitality, Eilert Smith Hotel stands head and shoulders above when it comes to Stavanger. And this is not only because of the elegance of the rooms and common areas. The staff also understands very well what guests expect when choosing such a hotel for their stay. Truly, everything is done to make your stay as pleasant as possible, and all with a kind of natural elegance (which I wish I mastered). It might be strange for a blogger, but I am a bit short of words to sum up what makes the level of service so special in a few sentences. Perhaps I can best use a scene from 'The Bear' (SE02, EP07) to illustrate it. It feels a bit like the staff passing notes to each other all day with little details about the guests, making everything and everyone seem to be excellently synchronized. I don't know how they do it. But they do it excellently.

The occasion obliges me to also mention Re-naa. Located within the Eilert Smith hotel, this is the only 2-Michelin star restaurant in Norway. Despite what my language may imply (I know, it sometimes seems a bit pretentious), I'm not a fancy guy. Let alone having a fancy bank account. So, unfortunately, I can't tell you about what it's like to dine at Re-naa. Perhaps in another life or after a favorable lottery result. But with those two stars, I reckon you're in good hands. Kind regards, Captain Obvious. And how do you find your way to this sometimes windswept corner of the world? It might surprise you, or perhaps not, but due to the fact that Stavanger is a true oil capital, there are direct flights to nearly every major airport in Europe. So, you don't have to hesitate for a romantic weekend getaway. From Stavanger, you can catch direct flights to: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona, Manchester, Newcastle, Esbjerg, Stockholm, London, Krakow, Kaunas, Gdansk, Frankfurt, and Aberdeen.


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