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A Luxury Place to Stay on Bergen’s Historic Waterfront

We love hotels. Nice ones, that is.

Our cruise was coming to an end, and we were getting off the beautiful Viking Star to stay for a few days in Bergen, Norway.

The bar had been set. 

Would the Hotel Havnekontoret in Bergen be as nice as the ship?

Hotel Havnekontoret lobby
The lobby of the Hotel Havnekontoret is colored with splashes of ruby and purple

Hotel Havnekontoret

We only had a nugget of an idea, because we hadn’t come across any reviews about the hotel in Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, travel blogs – or anywhere really, other than TripAdvisor.

The little we knew is that the hotel (full name, the Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret), rated highly by TripAdvisor guests, is considered one of the best hotels in Bergen.

Hotel Havnekontoret
And what do we have in this corner here? Some interesting art…

We needn’t have worried though.

The Clarion Havnekontoret turned out to be very nice indeed! (Actually, we can go so far as to say it’s one of our favorite charming hotels in Europe.)

Clarion Havnekontoret location

Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret
Housed in a stone building on the historic waterfront, the Clarion Collection Havnekontoret is one of the best places to stay in Bergen

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 :-).


A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bryggen is one of the most popular Bergen attractions
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bryggen is one of the most popular Bergen attractions

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.

The historic wooden buildings of Bryggen house shops, museums, galleries and restaurants
The historic wooden buildings of Bryggen house shops, museums, galleries and restaurants

Airport bus

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.)

Must-do in Bergen: Be sure to visit the Edvard Grieg Museum – you’ll be enchanted!

Funky interiors (in a good way)

Aren’t these purple chairs wild?

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).

As is typical in European hotels, beds are draped in duvets

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.

Our "Deluxe Double" room at Hotel Havnekontoret, with high ceilings, parquet wood floors and a wonderful bay window
Our “Deluxe Double” room with high ceilings, parquet wood floors and a wonderful bay window

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?)

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
  • Mini-fridge
  • Free WiFi

Complimentary meals

Okay, let’s talk about the free meals, because this is what clinches the deal for a lot of folks.

Norway is quite expensive – one of the world’s most expensive countries to visit.

Eating out means you’ll spend a pretty penny on dinner – we figured a minimum of around $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.

What’s for dinner tonight?

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.

The dinner buffet: What you get

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.

Sure, the food isn’t knock-your-socks-off exciting. But it doesn’t claim to be. It is good, tasty and wholesome.

And the room that it’s served in is the same as the breakfast room – homey, with fairly simple and straightforward décor. But we didn’t have to venture outside (would it rain?) looking for a restaurant.

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.)

It’s impressive that the hotel offers complimentary meals as a service to its guests…

This interesting vaulted stone lounge is found at the bottom of the hotel’s circular staircase

One of the best hotels in Bergen, Norway

Where to stay in Bergen? We loved our stay at the Clarion Collection Havnekontoret 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?)

Hotel Havnekontoret: Check rates and availability here

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

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Pin this review of Bergen’s Hotel Havnekontoret!

Bergen Hotel Havnekontoret

Photo credits: 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining images Clarion Collection Havnekontoret

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. 

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!


Tuesday 8th of November 2016

Considering all the complimentary food you get with it, this hotel seems great value, especially for Norway, which I learned during my visit to Oslo this year is such an expensive country! I used to be really shy about bedrooms with just a thin screen as a bathroom but hubby and I have ended up in a few hotels with that kind of set up so I've had to get over it!

Janice and George

Tuesday 8th of November 2016

The hotel IS great value - the rate would be roughly equivalent to similar luxury hotels in Bergen that don't offer the complimentary dinner. And the glass screen door really isn't an issue - it's kind of lightly opaquey (is that a word?) so it's a blurry view.


Tuesday 8th of November 2016

I agree with everything that you said. I was in Bergen last month and was able to stay at the Havnekontoret. Perfect choice. It's a beautiful building (inside and out) and in the perfect location. My only issue was with the lack of privacy with the bathroom, but that's pretty much a personal preference thing. I was also able to take a little trip up to the tower of the hotel and was rewarded with some pretty amazing photos of Bergen. Highly recommended!!

Janice and George

Tuesday 8th of November 2016

Thanks for taking the time to comment -- nice to hear our review is spot on :-). So you went up to the top of the tower! We're sorry we missed that...

Carol Perehudoff

Monday 7th of November 2016

Free meals, great location and a gorgeous building? Count me in. I'll remember this for when I (finally) get to Norway.

Janice and George

Monday 7th of November 2016

The Hotel Havnekontoret is an excellent choice to bookmark for a future visit to Bergen :-).


Monday 7th of November 2016

Oh wow one of our writers visited and really loved it! I'm a huge fan of Scandinavia so I'm sure I would be a fan too!

Janice and George

Monday 7th of November 2016

Bergen was a very pleasant surprise for us. Indeed, we were impressed with what we saw of Norway (Bergen, Stavanger, Flam).