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Stay: not for pensionists; an exclusive stay on the foot of Gaustatoppen

Rjukan is somewhat of an enigmatic location. Internationally, it is perhaps best known for its association with World War II and the heavy water factory operated by the Germans (don't mention the war!). More recently, Rjukan has garnered attention due to the installation of a sun mirror. Rjukan is nestled in a valley where, during winter, the sun is absent for approximately four months, leaving the valley shrouded in perpetual twilight. A rather disheartening state of affairs leaving housing prices to be unusually low for country standards.

To address this, a large mirror has been erected on one of the surrounding mountain ridges, capturing the meager sunlight during these dark months and reflecting it directly into the valley, offering the residents at least a semblance of light.

However, it is not for this reason alone that I write about Rjukan. During the second summer of the pandemic, my love and I embarked on a holiday in Norway. It was then that I received the summons to receive my first vaccine dose while we were camping by a lake. Determined to comply, we embarked on a 400-kilometer journey back to Oslo, only to resume our vacation the following morning. Our budget was rather constrained, but we decided that sleeping in a tent or hammock that night was out of the question.

A beautiful old hotel in Norway

Serendipitously, we stumbled upon a small hotel marked on the map, conveniently located along our route. And so it was that we found ourselves in the vicinity of Rjukan. Little did I anticipate what an extraordinary experience awaited us. Tuddal Høyfjellshotell is nestled in the mountains, overlooking a vast lake just below the treeline. Constructed in a charming chalet style, the hotel has been welcoming guests since 1895, and this legacy is immediately apparent upon entering. It is a scene straight out of a fairy tale. The interior is delightfully old-fashioned yet exudes an authentic ambiance. It feels as though stepping into a time capsule, with decorations, vintage photographs, and hunting trophies adorning every nook and cranny.

Each evening, a four-course dinner is served promptly at 19:00, bringing all the guests together in the dining hall simultaneously. This creates a uniquely special atmosphere. One can take a moment to observe their fellow patrons and gain a sense of the community within the hotel. The service is truly remarkable, infused with enthusiasm and dedication. You feel genuinely seen and valued. The cuisine revolves around locally available ingredients, and this is unmistakable in the flavors that are brought to life. Expect no experimental artistry, but rather beautifully executed, honest dishes that tantalize the taste buds.

One feels as though they have stepped into a movie scene. Perhaps akin to "The Grand Budapest Hotel," but set in Norway? Following dinner, we ordered coffee in one of the sitting rooms and were soon joined by other guests. The evening unfolded into a delightful late-night affair, with whisky flowing abundantly.

One might perceive this place as catering primarily to pensioners, but I hold the opposite view being somewhere in my thirties. Those standardized and generic hotels truly contribute nothing to the overall experience of a destination. Tuddal Høyfjellshotell, on the other hand, is an entity in itself—a destination actually.

If you find yourself in the vicinity and planning to stay in Telemark, Rjukan or Gaustatoppen, or even if you are not, I implore you to book a night's stay. with a strong promise you will not regret it. And by the way, the accommodations themselves are truly remarkable, despite the fact that we had our stay in the smallest, most rudimentary chamber available. We loved it. All of it. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Oslo Airport (OSL). Public transport doesn't get you there, so it is most wise 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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