An hour’s drive from Kristiansand or two hours’ drive from Arendal in South Norway, you arrive at the beautiful inland municipality of Åseral in Vest-Agder county. The 888-square-kilometer (343 sq mi) municipality has only around 1,000 inhabitants. Here, Elling Eikerapen (73) has turned his childhood home into a fairytale hotel in South Norway.
We met owner Elling Eikerapen and hotel manager Per Thunstad who told us the fascinating story about the conversion from a childhood home into a fairytale hotel.
Going to Kyrkjebygd (Church Village) in the old days was a troublesome journey. You had to row on the lake in summer or use the ice-covered water during wintertime. Eikerapen farm had no roads until 1938. In connection with the road work, a bridge was built over the lake at Fiskeland.
Free to come
In 1987, the municipality of Åseral launched a competition, “Free to come”, which aimed to create jobs in the area. The Eikerapen guesthouse project came in third place. Entrepreneur Elling Eikerapen traveled to Austria to explore how hotel businesses were managed there, but the project was cancelled.
Not until 2013, the project was considered again, and at Easter 2016, the old farmhouse was converted into Eikerapen Gjestegård (Guesthouse) with 29 rooms, restaurant, conference rooms and bar. Per Thunstad was hired as hotel manager, and in January 2017, the hotel was officially opened to its first guests.
Enjoy a Christmas Fairy Tale Stay
Imagine spending Christmas here, away from noisy daily life, riding horse and carriage, following 30,000 Christmas candles. And this is not the only thing this fairytale hotel has to offer. The area is unique, weather you prefer fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking or just clean urban nature.
The mountain area surrounding Eikerapen offers an abundance of hiking possibilities in a friendly and varied scenery. The brooks and lakes in Åseral are an Eldorado for trout fishing. And if you didn’t know, the taste of mountain trout is a special experience. If you ask the friendly chef at the guesthouse, your catch will be prepared for your evening meal.
Country roads and paths offer exciting biking possibilities in this cultural landscape. Or if you just want to relax, Eikerapen Gjestegård offers a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
Ideal for excursions
Eikerapen Gjestegård is also a good starting point for excursions in the region. In walking distance, you can experience the water reservoirs of Nåvatn and Skjerkevatn which have replaced five older dams with two modern rock-fill dams. Norway have a power system based almost 100 per cent on renewable, clean and affordable hydropower and a share of more than 65 per cent of renewable energy in our energy consumption.
Kyrkjebygd is the center of the municipality, and lies right between the three small villages, Ljosland, Bortelid og Eikerapen. Here you will find Minne kultursenter where you can see permanent and temporary exhibitions, visit the museum or get a coffee at the café.
Only five kilometers from Kyrkjebygd you can visit the Sosteli Jernaldergård (Iron Age Farm), it is a beautiful walk for the whole family. If you are looking for a longer walk, the path into the Lordehytta could be just what you want. This cabin was built by Lord Salvesen in 1910 and is beautifully located by Vivatn.
In the Mineral Park at Evje you find a spectacular collection of minerals and crystals. In the mines, the world’s most beautiful minerals shine and sparkle, and the entire adventure park has this exhibition as a basis.
Inquire at the hotel about other excursions or guided tours.
Related: The Oldest Hotel in Norway
A gem in South Norway
“We don’t really realize what a gem this is,” says the enthusiastic marketing manager Per Thunstad. “Many American couples now consider having their fairy tale wedding party here. We have a bridal suite, beautiful individual designed rooms and delicious domestic and international food,” he adds.
The old living room, next to the reception, is preserved as it was originally, and in the basement, you can enjoy refreshing drinks in the bar between the stone walls of what once was the old potato cellar.
“Arrive as guest, leave as family,” is the fairytale hotel’s slogan. Management and staff are convinced you want to come back.
All photos by Tor Kjolberg if not otherwise noted.
The Fairytale Hotel in South Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg