If you look up Lofoten online, you’ll see pictures of crystal-clear water and inviting beaches tucked between imposing mountains. It is impressive, but however beautiful they are, the pictures hardly do Lofoten justice; they are unable to capture the essence of these wild, northern islands.

At Holmen Lofoten – a restaurant and hotel situated at the western tip of the Lofoten Islands – guests can embrace all the forces of nature as they embark on a unique culinary experience combined with wildlife walks and people-focused hospitality.

“The restaurant first opened in 2007, but we’ve been here full time since 2016,” says Ingunn Rasmussen, owner and founder at Holmen Lofoten. Ingunn grew up on the very islet where her business now is.

Holmen Lofoten: A real taste of nature

One of the rooms at Holmen Lofoten. Photo: Christian Banfield

“My dad was a fisherman-carpenter-farmer, and my mom a mother-housewife-seamstress. We grew up learning to live with limited resources, and with the wild landscape of the remote island as our safe harbor and playground.”

As one of 13 siblings, learning to be self-sufficient was an important part of her everyday life. “We took part in the fisheries from a very young age. Our vacation would be travelling off to the outer islands to pick hundreds of litres of berries. We learned about edible plants from land and sea, but most of all to be respectful and thankful for what nature gives us.”

Ingunn moved away at 17 but longed for a holiday home in Lofoten. Her search soon turned into a larger project in which she restored old fisherman’s cabins were restored and started a restaurant, before the business expanded to include more accommodation and experiences.

Holmen Lofoten: A real taste of nature

Local produce is key at Holmen Lofoten. Photo: Ed Schofield

‘Kitchen on the Edge’

Besides running a hotel and restaurant, Holmen is host to ‘Kitchen on the Edge’ five times a year – a series of long-weekend culinary events focusing on food, craftsmanship and nature. Guests are welcomed by internationally acclaimed chefs to enjoy their interpretation of local produce while different workshops are organized throughout the weekend.

‘Kitchen on the Edge’ has become very popular and sells out far in advance. Chefs from around the world are asking to participate as guest chefs.

While running a profitable business is important, Holmen Lofoten is not an ordinary hotel. Ingunn’s love for where she comes from and the need to balance tourism with the needs of the local community means they have decisively turned away from mass tourism in favour of quality visits.

“It’s not about using or showing off – our project has to do with caring for the property, the nature, the culture and history, and ensuring it remains for generations to come,” she points out.

Holmen Lofoten: A real taste of nature

All excursions organised by Holmen Lofoten are unique. Photo: Holmen Lofoten

A desire to preserve

To achieve that, Holmen Lofoten not only makes sure to use locally available produce – a small selection of suppliers grow plants and animals only for them, they also make sure to use the entirety of any fish or any animal caught. Fermenting and preserving food to use at times of the year when certain things are more difficult to get hold of is also an important part of the kitchen.

The desire to preserve is also reflected in other aspects of the business. Their very experienced mountain guide Audun makes sure that hiking routes hardly ever follow standardized paths. Rather, he talks to the individual guest, evaluates their desires and physical abilities and chooses a route based on that. That means that excursions are hardly ever the same – all are unique. Apart from walking tours, Holmen Lofoten also offers kayaking and fishing trips, some via local providers.

Weather tourism

Looking to the future, Holmen Lofoten is keen to develop what Rasmussen calls ‘weather tourism’, allowing guests to experience how nature changes when the weather is altered. Ingunn wants people to understand what it is that keeps people in Lofoten, despite the hardship when the storms come and the sun disappears for several weeks at a time.

“The weather is not always sunny. In Lofoten, we don’t even refer to ‘nice’ or ‘bad weather’, we just say there is a lot of weather. Sharing our culture and our love for the nature that surrounds us, is important to us,” Rasmussen concludes.

Holmen Lofoten: A real taste of nature

There’s no good weather or bad weather, just a lot of weather in Lofoten. Photo: Dan Mariner

Web: www.holmenlofoten.no
Instagram: @holmenlofoten
Facebook: holmenlofoten

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