Thon Hotel Sandven is a historic hotel steeped in tradition, suitable for both leisure and business travellers. It is situated in scenic surroundings, perched on the edge of the captivating Hardangerfjord, and in close proximity to Bergen. The hotel is an excellent place to relax while enjoying Norheimsund and the stunning Norwegian nature.
TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD | PHOTOS: THON HOTEL SANDVEN
The hotel building has been awarded the Olavsrosa – an important sign of historic importance and quality.
As the perfect setting to start your adventure in Hardanger, Thon Hotel Sandven is an idyllic gem inside a classic 19th-century white wooden house full of history. “It is a typical Norwegian period house in Swiss style, which has been well-preserved with all its charm still present,” says director Arnstein Birkeland. The building itself is listed and was originally built in 1857. It was privately owned for several generations, until it was bought in 2011 by Olav Thon, who decided to expand the hotel by adding a new extension.
A superior room in the historical part of the hotel.
Homely and elegant atmosphere
Today, the hotel has a total of 104 rooms, 33 of which are in the original, historic hotel building. These are kept in its authentic style, with antique furniture and old-fashioned interiors to create a homely and elegant atmosphere. “We are in the process this autumn and winter of completely renovating this part of the hotel. All rooms will be revamped with brand-new bathrooms, but we will preserve the existing, cosy old style,” says Birkeland.
The remaining 71 rooms are located in the new wing, which was completed in 2013. Here, the hotel offers 17 well-equipped and modern apartments, perfect for short- or long-term rental with everything needed for a comfortable stay. “These are great for families and groups who want to stay together in one space. Each apartment has its own terrace overlooking Hardangerfjord and Folgefonna National Park, where one of Norway’s largest glaciers can be found,” the director continues.
Enjoy Norwegian cuisine
In the hotel’s own Restaurant Sandven, lunch and dinner are served daily. Here, guests can enjoy classic Norwegian cuisine based on local produce in historic surroundings. “The restaurant is inside one of Norway’s best-preserved dining rooms, which creates a grand atmosphere,” says Birkeland. A lavish breakfast buffet is also served here every morning. In addition to the restaurant, guests can visit the hotel’s own bar and lounge area, decorated in the old-fashioned style, where one can enjoy a coffee during the day or a drink in the evening.
With its prime location right by the seafront at the Hardangerfjord, the hotel boasts a large, impressive garden, which visitors can make use of during the summer months or anytime the weather allows it. “It is wonderful to sit there and enjoy a delicious meal or a drink with beautiful views,” Birkeland says, adding: “When tourists visit us, they run around and take pictures both outside in the garden and inside the hotel, because it’s so unique and historic.”
The hotel is well-suited for courses and conferences, with four meeting rooms including a large hall that seats up to 200 people. These rooms can also be booked for events such as weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations.
Restaurant Sandven offers Norwegian cuisine in historic surroundings.
In close proximity to Bergen
Situated in the centre of Norheimsund, Thon Hotel Sandven is in close proximity to the country’s second-largest city with everything it has to offer. “We are only an hour’s drive away from Bergen, so very convenient for those who want to experience the city but also be close to the breathtaking nature found in the area,” Birkeland says. “We have great bus connections, making it easy for you to get wherever you want to go, and the airport is only one hour and 15 minutes away.”
Activities available all year round
While staying at Thon Hotel Sandven, a seemingly endless list of activities is available all year round. With hiking opportunities for beginners, families and the more experienced, and with boat trips and exciting tourist attractions nearby, there is something for everyone to enjoy. In Hardanger, you can, for instance, go skiing all year: in Kvamskogen during the winter, and at FONNA Ski Resort during the summer, where it is possible to ski or hike on the glacier. If you are not interested in skiing, the hotel offers the rental of rowing boats, kayaks and bikes, for guests who want to stay active.
The hotel also partly owns Hardangerfjord Adventure, offering RIB boat trips with a unique view of the fjord, islands, glaciers and life in and along the fjord. Custom tours can be arranged and tailored for groups wishing to explore the area, such as a visit to Folgefonna National Park, including a stop at a local farm with apple cider tasting, or the boats can bring and collect guests who want a more adrenaline-inducing mountain trip.
“Other activities close by include the boat museum Hardanger Fartøyvernsenter and the impressive Steinsdalsfossen waterfall – and, of course, the beautiful nature with its many hiking opportunities starting right outside the hotel,” Birkeland smiles.