Voksenåsen Hotell: A serene hilltop escape with views of forest and fjord
By Alyssa Nilsen | Photos: Voksenåsen Hotell
High above the Norwegian capital of Oslo, in the hills of Holmenkollen, lies an idyllic hotel with a fascinating history. From its perch on forested slopes, Voksenåsen Hotell enjoys mesmerising views of the capital and fjord below – but a sojourn here offers just as much culture as nature.
Designed in the 1950s by acclaimed architects Hans-Kjell Larsen and Terje Thorstensen, Voksenåsen Hotell offers a combination of stunning natural scenery and elegant mid-century Nordic architecture. Throughout the hotel, panoramic windows erase the boundaries between the interior and the sloping pine forests that surround – giving an effect of bringing the outside in. At 501 metres above sea level, the hotel terrace enjoys spectacular views of the Oslo Fjord beyond the woodland canopy, and the spacious hotel grounds feature an outdoor swimming pool, a walking trail and a Korean bell tower.
Inside, the hotel offers serene lodgings. The rooms evoke a signature Scandinavian simplicity, furnished with warm, neutral tones and sleek wooden flooring, and beam with light from huge windows overlooking forest and sky. “Our guests say they feel like they’ve come home,” says CEO of Voksenåsen, Maria af Klinteberg Herresthal. “It’s a place where you can relax and find a sense of peace. It is a small hotel, intended for calm, focus and rest.”
Rich in history
There’s a reason for Voksenåsen’s architectural majesty. At the end of the Second World War, Norway gifted the hotel to Sweden as a token of gratitude for their humanitarian aid. Today, it is wholly owned by Sweden and acts as a centre for cooperation between the two countries, hosting conferences, private events, meetings and parties. In that vein, guests at Voksenåsen can take advantage of its unique cultural programme.
“It’s a two-part initiative,” says Klinteberg Herresthal. “We have an ideological, cultural institute which arranges courses and classes for youth, intending to let them meet across borders. They do courses in skills development, music, masterclasses, history, neighbouring languages and more. And then the actual hotel is a separate entity.”
A home away from home.
“The hotel’s original name was Svenskehjemmet (The Swedish Home),” Klinteberg Herresthal continues. “It’s a place to return the favour of welcoming people into your country and your home. Here, Norwegians can show the Swedes our nature, culture and hospitality.”
At Voksenåsen’s stunning, wood-beamed restaurant, the philosophy of sharing national fare is extended. The three-course dinner menu offers playful and inventive flavours, based on locally sourced produce and the traditions of Nordic cooking – with stunning fjord views from the table.
Though the mountains are ever-present at Voksenåsen, there are a wealth of nature experiences on the doorstep, for those who want to explore more of the surroundings. Nearby is the Tryvann Alpin centre, Holmenkollen Ski Arena and the vast forests of Nordmarka. In the winter, the area offers hundreds of kilometres of ski trails – some of which are illuminated at night, while hiking and biking trails, as well as idyllic high-altitude swimming lakes, are accessible in the summer.
Art, history and more
With the hotel, Norway also gifted Sweden the Voksenåsen Collection, a collection of Swedish and Norwegian art dating from 1960s to modern. In 2019, new art by contemporary female artists was added by The Public Art Agency of Sweden, and today the collection consists of several hundred paintings, prints, textiles and sculptures. Voksenåsen works closely with the nearby Roseslottet – an outdoor sensory art park. Collaborative festivals, projects and guided tours are among the offers at the park, telling the story of the occupation of Norway through visual art.
All said, Voksenåsen offers a special kind of escape, in which you’re both close to, and protected from, the lively buzz of Oslo. Over the years it has accumulated a quiet prestige that seems to both emanate from within and seep in from the tranquil pine forest. Few such accessible venues can promise the same.
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