It was a pleasure to visit the iconic property Aksjemøllen Boutique Hotel in Lillehammer and see why the occupancy and use of this 58-room boutique hotel and conference/event venue is continually running at full (or close to full) year-round capacity. You can stimulate all your senses at The Old Mill hotel in Lillehammer – Norway.
Mølla hotel in Lillehammer has an exciting history. The original mill was built in 1863 by Gudbrand Larsen, father of the even more famous August Larsen (Pipe-Larsen) founder of G. Larsen Pipefabrik (producing internationally acclaimed smoking pipes). His son, August, started building a relatively large mill operated with the help of so-called assault wheels, a technical solution that was both practical and economical where there was plenty of water. River Mesna in Lillehammer was the ideal location.
The mill was modernized in 1900 and a larger grain chamber was built with a dryer and a rolling mill for sifting rye and wheat flour. At the same time, turbines were installed to replace the water wheel. In the 1920s, a flour warehouse was added and the entire company was converted to electric operation after the Mesna traps were expropriated. A silo was built in 1955. From then on, Lillehammer Aktiemølle could use a modern 1000 tons grain silo with automatic reception and grain drying.
Converted into hotel
The mill’s transformation into a hotel was rapidly taking place over a twelve-month period, to open in time for the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer. The rooms were constructed from either one, two or three silos. It was the architects Halvorsen and Reine, from the company by the same name, who realized that the mill could be transformed into a hotel and extend the number of rooms seriously needed for guests during the Winter Olympics.
“We got to join a bit of Lillehammer’s history and found walled niches and windows, secret rooms, narrow passages, mysterious transport routes and strange machines. And everywhere there was grain, flour dust and cliff. The property was for sale. Investors and banks were thrilled with the desire that both the whole and the details should underline the uniqueness of the business that had taken place here for generations,” said the architects.
After 1 1/2 years of renovation, The Mølla hotel was completed in November 1992, ready to house guests during the Olympic Games in 1994.
Aktiemøllen hotel is situated in the heart of Lillehammer, just steps away from Lillehammer’s lively shopping street (Gågata), and not far from Maihaugen and Sigrid Undset’s home (Bjerkebæk). Skiing and family fun can be found only15 km away at Hafjell Alpine Center and families can enjoy the Hunderfossen Adventure Park/Winter Park.
In June 2021, Mølla hotel was acquired by the hotel chain Classic Norway Hotels which is specializing in hotels with historical charm and is in constant search for hotels in central areas. I had the privilege to meet ‘Mill master’ Hanna Stenberg, who was appointed hotel manager just in time to follow the total renovation of the hotel, and the opening of new Aksjemøllen by Classic Norway in January 2022.
“Our intention was to emphasize the historical aspects,” she explains. Charming old door keys are still being used. “They are too big to carry with you, so guests leave them at the reception, creating a personal contact and a friendly atmosphere,” says Hanna, who came to Lillehammer in 1996 to study tourism and never left.
“We have guests from all over the world visiting Lillehammer to experience the Olympic town and its surroundings,” she says and adds, “Recently we had a family from Australia here.”
Aksjemøllen by Classic Norway appeals to those who love history, pampering, and the beauty of nature, and Hanna is proud that the hotel has managed to maintain its soul and history. When asked what she is most proud of, Hanna says that her team members always are enthusiastic and that most of them have been working there for many years!
Stimulate All Your Senses at The Old Mill Hotel in Lillehammer – Norway, read on…..
She adds that she has been privileged to be on site during the whole renovation period and managed to remain the hotel open for guests without serious interruptions. After the renovation, the typical guest has become different from before. The shift from economy hotel to a boutique hotel has affected the typical visitor. Now, the guests are well educated adult people, friends and families and business people. There are also rooms allowing dog-owners to bring their pets. Today, Aktiemøllen is a captivating property and the hotel, and in particular the Toppen bar (Toppen Skybar) with professional bartenders serving signature drinks as well as old standards, is popular among the locals.
The 58 rooms are relatively small, due to the fact that this has been an old mill. However, they are comfortable and well equipped with Molton & Brown toiletries, luxurious bedding, selected teas and coffees, Wi-FI, TV and iron.
“Many of our guests tell us how memorable the stay with us have been,” say Hanna.
I had a full tour of the property and surrounding sites and really loved walking along the Mesna River and the areas surrounding the Aksjemøllen hotel. I loved walking the trail along the river, talking to people and seeing everyone enjoying the area in their own way.
Stimulate All Your Senses at The Old Mill Hotel in Lillehammer – Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg
All images © Tor Kjolberg/Daily Scandinavian if not otherwise noted.