What do playwrights Henrik Ibsen, authors Helma Lagerlöf, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Knut Hamsun have in common? They all stayed at the Farris Bad many times, bathed there, ate and danced. The bubbling, health-giving water from Larvik was known all over Europe. This is considered the most beautiful and content-rich spa department in the Nordic region.
The story of the bubbling, health-giving water goes 100 000 years back in history when the Ice Age shaped the moraine that Larvik and Norway’s largest beech forest rests on. 10 000 years ago, the ice drew back, and the water trickled through the rock masses and gathered into a purified, nutritious source.
In 1843, Karen Linaae established the first bath on this source and in 1880, Dr. Ingebrigt Holm founded a new bath. The existing Farris Bad was built on the same spot and today a steady flow of Norwegian and international visitors travel to the quant port town of Larvik less than two hours by car south of the capital of Norway. There is one good reason for the migration – to spend a few days frolicking and reinvigorating at the Farris Bad resort and spa.
At Farris Bad, we are welcomed by hotel director Ane Johansen who says that she is passionate about the visitors getting a unique guest experience. She is proud to be responsible for the Nordic region’s most beautiful spa hotel. “However, our bath master Lasse Eriksen has been here since the opening in 2009, so I leave the storytelling to him,” she says.
Chief therapist Lasse Eriksen (46) became Norway’s first aromatherapist when he was 18 years old, and was for several years engaged at the Elite Sports Center (Toppidrettssenteret) in Oslo. He tells us that Mille Marie Treschow already in the 90s dreamed of rebuilding Larvik Bad. Then she met the enterprising businessman Stein-Erik Hagen, and he said: “Let’s do it!”
Farris Bad Opens
After many years of struggle for building permit, the construction started in 2007. In March 2009, Farris Bad spa hotel opened with 176 rooms and suites, a 2,500 sqm spa and conference facilities for up to 400 people.
The ultra-modern building contains tastefully objects d’art; sculptures, photography, and artwork of the human form at every turn. Guests can enjoy 150 art objects found throughout the building, all part of the private collection of co-founder Stein Erik Hagen. Some of the art, include Norwegian artists such as Nico Widerberg and Morten Krogvoll, which is part of the permanent exhibitions but there is also itinerant art. Lasse Eriksen has become a self-appointed dedicated curator.
Inside Farris Bad the colors are monotone browns and cement gray in order to contrast with the natural beauty of the outdoors as well as the provocative art adorning the space. The façade is covered with the domestic beautiful Larvikite stone, used only in a few international iconic buildings in Norway and around the world, for instance the UN building in New York.
New life to harbor area
“We try to maintain Mille Marie Treschows spirit and what she has done for this city,” says Eriksen. She has reopened Treschow’s industrial area by the harbor. She wanted to give it back to the town’s inhabitants and today it’s a sector of the town with spa hotel, cultural centers, restaurants and modern apartments.
“My main task is to make sure that construction and operation follow her dreams” Eriksen continues. “We need good therapists with the right education. There is a connection between art and wellness. Both provide peace in the body, and at Farris Bad we conduct continuous experimentation. Soon we will launch a world premiere – an event lasting 1 ½ hour in the sauna. It is not about suffering, but about making a deep spiritual journey. ”
He explains that short times in the sauna is on its way out. Now it’s all about giving yourself more time. «Before the corona, it was common for guests to book in for one night», says Eriksen. “Now it is more common with three or four nights.”
Space Age Farris Bad
Farris Bad has been named the most beautiful and content-rich spa department in the Nordic region and is the only hotel that has established its spa on a true mineral-containing source. Every day, fresh, nutritious, health-giving spring water from 55 meters deep swirls into the spring water cave. The water uses 20 years on its journey under the beech forest and into Farris Bad.
The space-age structure of the five-story building is literally built over the beach and has become one of the town’s most iconic buildings. Locals say that the resort has one foot on land and one in the water.
Fine dining at Farris Bad
The main restaurant at Farris Bad in Larvik is a stylish hotel restaurant, open and at the same time intimate, with large windows facing the sea that extend for eternity in the direction of the coast of Denmark. It offers excellent cuisine to match the fantastic view and the menu has a focus on Nordic and international dishes with seafood sourced on daily basis from the area around Svenner, and game from the forests around Larvik.
We enjoyed beef tenderloin with roasted potato and bearnaise sauce and trout miso with pak choi, rice and spring onion respectively. For dessert we had fresh strawberries with ice.
Farris Bad has several wine and dine outlets as well. Adjacent to the lobby there is a lounge serving imaginative cocktails by their talented mixologists. We were offered free sparkling wine to celebrate the reopening after the Covid-19 limitations.
Related: Magnificent Mountain Hotel in Norway
The most beautiful and content-rich spa department in the Nordic region
Guests have access to the medicinal thermal spa and covered swimming pool, the open-air wave pool and sun terrace during their stay at the hotel, including spa wellness lessons and training by a team of highly talented therapists.
Staff at Farris Bad, from room maidens to front desk staff, always have a smile on their faces and ready and willing to assist patrons in any way they can. It’s due to professional management.
The Most Beautiful And Content-Rich Spa Department In The Nordic Region, written by Tor Kjolberg.
All photos by Tor Kjolberg if not otherwise noted.