Checking In: Scandinavian consolation in a boutique resort in Svalbard

Svalbard looks like a spot faraway from time and area. Ringed by looming glaciers, the archipelago experiences lengthy hours of daylight – or darkness – and temperatures can plummet decrease than −50°F. Merely calling it ‘otherworldy’ minimizes how central polar landscapes are to human survival. Maybe it’s extra correct to name it the Earth’s frozen coronary heart as a substitute.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t really feel fairly actual to be right here. I have been daydreaming about Svalbard since studying Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights (revealed as The Golden Compass within the US) virtually twenty years in the past. Revealed in 1995, the writer will need to have visited when the tourism business was in its infancy right here. But his depiction rings true right now; that of an industrial outpost in the course of the wild and stark wilderness.

I am staying at Funken Lodge in Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s predominant city. It was as soon as a hub of the coal mining business and it nonetheless retains the sensation of an industrial city right now, with mining smoke stacks dotted across the panorama, half-buried beneath snow. In recent times although, lots of the mines have closed and there’s an growing reliance on tourism and the scientific analysis group.

Like Longyearbyen, Funken Lodge has a shared historical past with the coal mining business. Constructed on the foot of the now-closed Mine 2, Funken was the place lots of administrative employees as soon as lived. It later grew to become a social hub for meals, Christmas events and different social occasions for the employees. Hurtigruten Svalbard AS, a tourism operator specializing in journeys to Svalbard, purchased the constructing in 1993 and renovated it in 2017 to coincide with the seventieth anniversary of its opening. Images of miners, outdated maps and unique newspaper clippings now grace the partitions.

The resort

For eight months of the yr, arriving into Funken Lodge is a welcome respite from the snow and polar air. The doorway is faraway from the upstairs reception, permitting area to  disrobe out of your a number of layers of outerwear and, most significantly, swap out your sneakers.

Like in every single place in Svalbard (excluding the retailers), you’ll be requested to take away your sneakers when getting into a constructing. This harks again to when coal-miners have been required to go away their sneakers on the door to stop black mud from getting in every single place. The resort will give you fundamental slippers or you’ll be able to carry your individual. In consequence you immediately really feel casual, snug and at dwelling. 

There’s a small however well-equipped fitness center on web site – together with a bicycle, weights and treadmill – which is fashionable with the outdoorsy sorts this vacation spot invariably attracts. There’s additionally a sauna which was sadly out of order once I visited however could be a welcome exercise after a protracted day within the freezing chilly. 

The vibe

Nearly all the pieces within the resort has been designed with consolation in thoughts. There are 4 separate lounge areas to select from. Some have comfortable and plush sofas to chill out with a drink from the gleaming cocktail bar (Norwegian lagers and IPAs are additionally on faucet). Others have a library of Arctic-themed literature and tables and chairs with clear, minimal strains, excellent for getting some work achieved. The no-shoes coverage makes it one of the vital stress-free resort widespread areas I’ve ever been to, feeling extra like one massive, impeccably designed dwelling than a conventional resort lounge. I used to be additionally reliably knowledgeable that an Arctic fox is noticed virtually each day from the bar space however I wasn’t fortunate sufficient to see it this time round.

The bed room at Funken Lodge is snug and as an added bonus can include a view of a glacier © AnneMarie McCarthy

Visiting in the summertime, the large, panoramic home windows let infinite gentle in, brightening the muted Scandinavian coloration palette. Low-hanging lighting fixtures with a heat glow will undoubtedly create an intimate coziness when the polar nights arrive in November. 

The consolation stage is elevated additional within the guestroom with a mini mountain of feathery pillows and tremendous comfortable bedding. With the elevated hours of daylight from a polar summer season, you want some assist getting your full eight hours of sleep. After I visited, it was the right comfortable touchdown after a protracted day on the snowmobile. It was so cozy I want I may transport your entire mattress again dwelling with me.

The curtains within the room, though good high quality, weren’t full blackout curtains, which appeared an uncommon oversight when the resort sees 24 hours of daylight from Could to September, almost a 3rd of the yr. It may additionally be prudent to carry ear plugs in case you will have a room off the lounge, like I did, as noise can journey if individuals keep up consuming within the daylight, though it by no means felt rowdy.

The gang 

One factor you shortly be taught in Svalbard; individuals who come right here – both to dwell or go to – have a deep love for this place and are available outfitted to spend the utmost period of time exploring its panorama. Count on adventurous teams of buddies or grownup youngsters touring with their mother and father, all wearing layers of high-priced activewear. I didn’t see any babies throughout my keep and there are not any devoted children’ facilities, though they’re allowed; cots can be found and youngsters as much as age 9 can keep without spending a dime if utilizing an current mattress.

With 88 rooms, a number of outside actions to get pleasure from and loads of lounge area, it’s unlikely you’ll really feel too crowded whereas staying right here, even when the resort is full. 

The restaurant

A warming bowl of beef bourguignon adopted by a fruity sponge cake © AnneMarie McCarthy

The on-site Funktionærmessen Restaurant is a draw for each guests and locals, particularly for a city the place delicacies isn’t too excessive up the precedence checklist. Given the situation, native elements aren’t actually doable so as a substitute the menu focuses on warming consolation meals elegantly styled on the plate. Beef options in a number of types – bourguignon, steak tartare and rib steak are all on the menu – with seafood choices like scallops and cod out there. The restaurant additionally has its personal wine cellar with a very intensive collection of champagne. An in-house sommelier is readily available to pair wines for you as effectively. Eating choices are restricted within the native space, so individuals will eat principally on the resort and locals additionally come to dine so e-book forward to be protected. 

The resort breakfast is a good-quality buffet and there’s a chef readily available to make recent omelets. Count on the standard bacon, scrambled egg, fruit and yogurt, in addition to Norwegian breakfast requirements of rye bread rolls and smoked salmon. For all of the great presentation of the meals although, the view from the restaurant is actually the star of the present. Your eating companions may get forgotten for some time as your consideration is stolen by the Lars- and Longyear glaciers close by, notably because the transferring solar bathes them in stark white, golden or typically pastel gentle because it strikes slowly across the sky. 

The place it’s positioned

Sitting atop the city of Longyearbyen, virtually in every single place within the resort has gorgeous views of the city under, the glaciers above or the ocean within the center. The stroll to the middle of the city will take about 20 minutes however has just a few downward slopes en route  – a pair of crampons in your sneakers will make navigation quite a bit simpler and a headlight and reflective gear is important throughout the winter. With the appropriate clothes, strolling is feasible more often than not, though it may be sluggish and awkward for those who’re not used to icy circumstances. Alternatively the resort has numbers for a few native taxi operators.

Within the space

The draw of Svalbard is its wild panorama. Chances are high, you’ll be utilizing your lodging as a launching level for a bigger expedition or a number of shorter excursions. From right here you’ll be able to strive recognizing Arctic animals or making an attempt to identify the Northern Lights, which is able to take you past Longyearbyen’s city limits. As soon as you permit the city limits, you might be topic to strict security rules and should carry some technique of scaring off a polar bear. Flare weapons are important however carrying a rifle can be really helpful. Tour operators handle this for you however unbiased vacationers ought to apply prematurely for a firearms allow in an effort to lease a gun.

Svalbard’s wilderness is gorgeous however security precautions are needed when leaving the city limits © AnneMarie McCarthy

For days on the town, you’ll discover the fascinating Svalbard Museum in addition to the North Pole Expedition Museum for anybody fascinated by the period of Arctic explorers. If you happen to overlook any gear, there are just a few retailers with all the pieces wanted to courageous the temperatures and costs are usually decrease right here than in the remainder of Norway (there isn’t a VAT on Svalbard). Upmarket souvenirs like delicate jewellery or handmade Christmas ornaments could be discovered within the Lompensenteret procuring middle however you may as well get nearly any provides or trinkets you want – so long as you don’t thoughts a polar bear printed on it. Ebook forward for a night tour on the Svalbard Brewery (429 NOK per individual) or choose some up cans to take dwelling on the native division retailer. 

What it prices

Commonplace double room charges begin at 2476 NOK / US $254 and might go as much as 4956 NOK / US $510. Some single rooms can be found for cheaper; the vary is between 1980 NOK / US $203 to 4100 NOK – US $421.


The resort has a really massive, accessible bed room with a giant residing area and picket flooring as a substitute of carpet for mobility. The doorway is wheelchair accessible and there’s an elevator however a lot of the remainder of the resort is carpeted. 

How one can get to Svalbard

SAS and Norwegian Air run flights from Oslo (some direct, others connecting in Tromsø) a number of occasions per week. A number of tour operators additionally run cruises that cease in Svalbard, with many connecting to extra distant elements of the archipelago.

AnneMarie traveled to Svalbard on the invitation of Volvo Penta. Lonely Planet employees members don’t settle for freebies in trade for optimistic protection.