We love hotels. Nice ones, that is. Our cruise was coming to an end, and we were leaving the beautiful Viking Star.
The bar had been set. Would the Hotel Havnekontoret – our hotel in Bergen, Norway – be as nice?
We only had a nugget of an idea, because we hadn’t come across any reviews about or hotel stories on the Hotel Havnekontoret in Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, travel blogs – or anywhere really, other than TripAdvisor.
The little we knew is that the Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret is considered one of Bergen’s top hotels and is rated highly by TripAdvisor guests.
We needn’t have worried though.
The Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret turned out to be very nice indeed!
The location of the Clarion Havnekontoret can’t be beat!
Right on the bustling waterfront (just across the road from the pedestrian promenade around the central Vagen harbor), this Bergen hotel is within stumbling distance of Bryggen. We say “stumbling” literally because the streets are cobbled – perfect high heel traps!
Good reason to wear “sensible” walking shoes in Bergen :-).
Bryggen, if you don’t know, is the UNESCO World Heritage Site with those colorful wooden houses you see on postcards of Bergen.
It’s jammed with skinny wooden warehouses and buildings dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, when the town was an important trading center in the Hanseatic League.
Another thing to note about the hotel’s location: The airport bus stops right outside the Havnekontoret Hotel– super convenient, eh? The bus, which comes every 10 to 15 minutes, is quick as well as being cheap. (It only made a couple of other stops after we hopped on to catch our plane to fly back home.)
Funky interiors (in a good way)
Inside, the 116-room Hotel Havnekontoret will make you smile.
It’s housed in a 1920s, neo-classical, stone building and the decorators have taken a playful approach to kitting out the interiors, especially in the reception and lobby bar.
Purple is the color of choice.
Tall purple glass vases. Purple swirls in the carpet. High-back, silver-and-purple velvet chairs that scream “Plop down on me and try me out!”
There’s also a narrow circular staircase to a tower on the roof.
Apparently you can sit up there in the open air and watch the sunset over the water – just ask for the key to the tower. (Unfortunately, in trying to see all we could in Bergen, we completely forgot to check out the tower for ourselves.)
Guest rooms have very high ceilings and parquet wood floors (we peeked into several).
Our “Deluxe Double” room had chocolate-colored, leather-like wall paper covering the wall behind the king-size bed. A wonderful bay window with lead-paned windows looked out over the waterfront – inset with a cushioned settee beneath a purple glass chandelier. Thick velvet-and-silk drapes hung down over one bare wall and another wall was adorned with a gigantic silver-framed mirror.
The most whimsical feature was the sliding glass privacy screen separating the bathroom from the bedroom.
Decorated with footprints in the sand, it reminded us of the little sand-colored footprints in our own “Sand In My Suitcase” logo. (See the two little feet at the top of this post? Don’t you think they’re cute? We can’t take credit though – that goes to our web designer…)
If you’re modest, be aware that some guests lament on TripAdvisor about the lack of privacy afforded by this screen when showering or bathing (the toilet is totally private). It wasn’t a problem for us though. Having been married for more than a few years, there aren’t too many secrets left between us!
Hotel Havnekontoret rooms also tick off these boxes:
- In-room Nespresso machine
- Ironing board and iron in the small wardrobe
- Free WiFi
Okay, let’s talk about the free meals, because this is what clinches the deal for a lot of folks.
Norway is one of the world’s most expensive countries to visit in the world.
Eating out means you’ll spend a pretty penny on dinner – we figured a minimum of $150 to over $200 USD for the two of us (including a glass or two of wine), depending on the restaurant.
The Clarion Collection hotel group in Norway thus tempts travelers with free meals. A complimentary breakfast (not so unusual) as well as complimentary afternoon tea and complimentary dinner (unusual) are included in the rates.
At the Hotel Havnekontoret, the afternoon tea from 3 pm to 6 pm basically consists of make-yourself waffles, which you can top with Nutella or jam. (The hotel’s waffle maker is a bit slow, so be patient…)
Complimentary, help-yourself tea and coffee seem to be available all day.
Dinner (from 6 pm to 9 pm) is described as a “light evening meal.”
A buffet, it’s really a full dinner, as we North Americans think of it.
You’ll find a large cold selection of fresh salads (including potato salad), cheeses, pickles, herring and smoked salmon, along with fresh crusty bread. There’s a soup – perhaps tomato soup. And there’s always a hot entrée, often poached salmon with sour cream. For dessert, raspberry parfait was on offer the two nights we ate in. And you can get a glass of wine from the lobby bar to go with your meal.
Now, it is a buffet. And the room that it’s served in is the same as the breakfast room – homey, with fairly simple and straightforward décor.
But after sightseeing all day, we were happy to simply walk downstairs and have a casual meal. We understand the hotel’s business travelers also like not having to fuss about going out.
Sure, the food isn’t knock-your-socks-off exciting. But it doesn’t claim to be. It is good, tasty and wholesome. And we didn’t have to venture outside (would it rain?) looking for a restaurant.
We were impressed that the hotel offers this service to its guests. It’s a very nice treat to have access to these complimentary meals…
One of the best hotels in Bergen, Norway
We loved our stay and would certainly return to this hotel if we visit Bergen again in future…
What we especially liked:
The central location on Bergen’s historic waterfront, with the airport bus stop right outside, is a real plus. Also, the staff were very friendly; they were always patient, smiling and helpful, no matter how busy the hotel got.
And did we mention the free buffet dinner?
What to know:
Air conditioning may not be turned on outside of the summer months (many European hotels turn off their A/C come September).
That buffet dinner is a very welcome freebie in an expensive city, but it’s not a “Let’s go out to dinner!” type of restaurant. (The atmosphere is more functional than charming – but how nice that dinner is free, right?)
Bottom line: The Hotel Havnekontoret is one of the best places to stay in Bergen.
See the hotel website.
Photos 2, 4 – 9, and 12 are © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Photos 3, 10 and 11 courtesy Clarion Collection Havnekontoret
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We stayed at the Hotel Havnekontoret as media guests for review purposes. We didn’t let this influence our review, however. If you’ve read this and our other hotel reviews, you know we always write as we see it – the good and the bad.
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.