Juvet Landscape Hotel at Alstad in Valldal, Norway is a synthesis of raw Norwegian nature, cultural history and modern architecture.
The man behind the idea, Knut Slinning, grew up in Aalesund on the West Coast of Norway, about 100 kilometers from Valldal. He bought a summer house there in 1986.
“Some years ago there was a project called the National Tourist Route,” he says. “The government invested 200 million Euros to improve the infrastructure along 18 selected stretches from the north to the south of Norway and all with very modern architecture.”
The architects of Jensen & Skodvin Arkitektkontor approached him with the idea of building a landscape hotel.
“I was not planning on doing anything like this, but the guy who owned the farm asked me if I wanted to buy it, and soon after I was the owner of a 3 million square meter farmland,” recalls Slinning.
The idea resulted in the first landscape hotel in Europe on a steep, natural levee among birch, aspen, pine and age-old boulders.
In 2009 Juvet Landscape Hotel welcomed its first guests. Today the hotel consists of nine detached rooms that are sited separately, each with a unique perspective on the rugged landscape. Basically each room is a detached small independent house with one, or sometimes two of the walls constructed in glass. In addition, there is the opportunity to stay in the old authentically restored farms, while meals are served communally in the old barn.
At the beginning the hotel was planned to be rather small with no shower or toilet, a container-like construction on stilts with futon beds inside. Today, however, the hotel is completed with nine separate rooms in a landscape considered spectacularly beautiful and varied and the topography allowed a layout where no room looks at another. In this way every room gets its own surprising view of a dramatic piece of landscape, always changing with the weather and the time of the day and the season.
The landscape rooms are double rooms built like “cubes” on stilts, with glass walls with a striking view of the valley, the river, the courtyard or the dramatic gorge below.
Juvet Landscape Hotel is resting on three ideas. The first is nature and nature experiences. The second idea is the cultural history of the place, and the third was to show what Norway is like today.
While no two rooms are alike, all the rooms have a dark interior to avoid stealing focus from the scenery. Apart from the small bathrooms, the sun shines even in the middle of the winter.
“I am entirely too modest to walk around naked, even when I am alone,” wrote Steve, a journalist from the US, Afar Maghazine. “But the first thing I wanted to do after closing the door if my cabin at the Juvet Landscape Hotel was shed anything that separated me from nature.”
“Nobody has asked for curtains,” says Slinning, “and if they had, the answer would have been no.”
Small zen inspired paths connects the rooms, furnished by famous local furniture procucers like LK Hjelle and Varier & Vad.
Another idea behind the Juvet hotel is to highlight how little we actually need to achieve a sense of well-being. The rooms are no bigger than 8 square meters in total, but provide a comfortable bed, a small sofa bench, a shower and a toilet.
Four Seasons at Juvet Landscape Hotel, written by Tor Kjolberg