Refsnes Gods, less than an hour’s drive from Oslo, the capital of Norway, is impressively well maintained and facilitated for conferences, weddings, small groups and couples-only. The estate from the 1700s has been transformed into a hotel surrounded by a lush garden and a short walk down to the fjord with beach and moorings. At Refsnes Gods, you’ll experience majestic luxury, fascinating history and top-class food and wine.
It was David and Sophie Chrystie who built Refsnes Estate as a holiday home around 1767. The holiday home Refsnes became a hospitable home. In 1853, Consul Lorenz Meyer from Kristiania (now Oslo) bought the manor and spent every summer there. His family wanted more space and they solved it in an inventive way by building a three floors’ tower on each side of the building. So, it got more the impression of being a holiday castle than a holiday manor.
Hotel manager Kim Nyheim was appointed director in 2019, only few months before the hotel had to shut down due to the corona virus. He came from one of Norway’s very best hotels, Hotel Continental in Oslo, where he had held various leading positions.
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He has his hotel management education from Swiss Hotel Management School and a certificate as a chef. He has worked throughout his career in the hotel and restaurant industry, both at home and abroad.
Nyheim tells us that guests as well as employees have been very understanding during the pandemic crises, and also after the reopening. Several adjustments are still in the pipeline.
Want to experience majestic luxury in Norway, read on.
Refsnes Gods (translated ‘estate’ into English) is best suited for business meetings, weddings or couples with a healthy budget looking to escape city life and enjoy the countryside and the abundant number of fine art displayed all over the place. Even your room will be decorated by fine original Norwegian artworks. We stayed in the Håkon Bleken Suite. Other suites contain contemporary paintings by Frans Widerberg, Jacob Weidemann and Therese Nortvedt, just to mention a few. “Restaurant Munch” is obviously dedicated to Edvard Munch (1863-1944) with 6 original works.
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Enjoy all the comfort of one of the 61 rooms, all decorated with contemporary paintings and fine art. As if your very own art gallery was not enough, there’s also a lush garden where two pentaque lanes are ready for use. There’s no better way to experience majestic luxury in Norway.
The first thing you encounter when looking out from the hotel towards the garden and the sea is Nina Sundby’s bronze sculpture «Nora dances Tarantella». This sculpture was on a world tour in 2006 celebrating that it was 100 years since the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) died.
A few years ago, the hotel built its own pavilion in the garden, so that guests once again could experience sociability outside the main house itself. Today’s pavilion has no seasonal restrictions and is also used as the hotel’s breakfast restaurant. On pleasant summer days guests can enjoy their food and a glass under the open sky.
Probably my favorite castle feature was the terrace outside our suite, where I could sprawl out and watch the colorful fjord sunset with a glass of fizz and a stonking good book.
“The Munch Restaurant” displays 6 original works by the iconic Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944). The menu is based on fresh and seasonable ingredients. The philosophy is to make as much as possible from scratch. Juices, sauces, soups, bread, desserts and chocolate confectionery. The presentation of the meals is also important. It should be innovative, but at the same time recognizable.
During our stay we really enjoyed the scallops, fish of the season, duck and the hotel’s opera cake.
Both the surroundings and content make the wine cellar at Refsnes Gods unique in a Norwegian context. Here are thick brick walls and roof vaults from the 18th century, and a wine selection that is one of the largest in Norway. There you can also view the basement’s unique collection of Mouton-Rothshild wines.
In 1945, the winery introduced art-labels to mark the liberation of France, a tradition that the world-famous wine producer fortunately has continued to this day. From 1945 to 2000, Refsnes Gods bought one bottle of each vintage – a total of 56 vintages – which are now displayed behind a glass wall for the enjoyment of guests who taste wines in the cellar. The labels are adorned by artists such as Chagall, Picasso, Miro and Andy Warhol. If you want to experience majestic luxury in Norway, you’ve come to rhe right place!
Refsnes gods is a part of Classic Norway Hotels
From NOK 1,700 (USD 195) for a double room in peak season.
Refsnes Gods is beautifully located on Jeløya in the Oslo fjord. Spend some time on the island of Jeløya, which is known as “the Pearl of the Oslo fjord” because of its beautiful landscape, beaches and tracks. Walk the Coastal trail (Kyststien) from Framnes to Alby and experience the breathtaking scenery. The coastal trail makes up 25 km of connected trails and rounds.
Alby gård is the oldest farm in Jeløy and has roots all the way back to the Viking age. The current building has been like this since a big fire in 1866. The farm has been open to the public since 1963. At the café you should taste the Alby Kringle (pretzel) which you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Galleri F15 at Alby is a very interesting gallery exhibiting contemporary artists from around the world. Some of the artworks can be very bizarre and engaging.
Galleri Varden is another gallery in Jeløy that exhibits well-known Norwegian visual artists like Ari Behn and Pushwagner. Gallery Varden is only open during the weekends.
TIP: For a memorable summer evening with a twist, take a sunset dip at the Tronvik lake where there’s a diving club. Walk up the beautiful trail that leads you to Tronvik woods where you have a wonderful view of the Oslo fjord. You can see all the way to Oslo.
Majestic Luxury in Norway: A Hotel With Fascinating History and Top-Class Food and Wine, written by Tor Kjolberg.
All photographs © Daily Scandinavian / Tor Kjolberg