An Afternoon at Hotel Union
You may want to pause a few times as you make your way to the Hotel Union in Geiranger, Norway. This is in part because the journey requires navigation of steep and windy streets, but is also due to the magnificent views that take your breath away just as you think you’ve caught it. Goats graze on the rocky hillside, a light mist covers the small town, and a white, wooden church stands guard over a small cemetery, setting the stage for a serene afternoon.
Upon entrance into the Hotel Union, the soft amber lights and dark wood panels seem to restore the warmth that your body may have lost in the Norwegian wind. The kind and attentive staff have been trained by the fourth generation of the Mjelva family, who have owned the hotel since 1899. This familial pride shines through in each detail of the hotel’s facilities and service.
While traveling through Geiranger in November, we stopped at the Hotel Union for lunch. Hungry for hearty food after our trip through the stunning Geirangerfjord, we ordered sandwiches and soup while taking in the views of the town from the window we were seated next to. As we were there during the off-season, we enjoyed a long lunch and were the only two people in the spacious dining room, despite the fact that this was only one of two restaurants currently open in the little town.
We spoke with our charming server, a young woman from Geiranger, who works at Hotel Union during the the tourist season. She shared some facts about the hotel, about the magical town of Geiranger (which, she told us, was the source of inspiration for the Disney movie “Frozen”), and about her own love for the beautiful fjord and natural wonders. We recounted our own journey through the fjord, our awe at the Eden-like waterfalls at every turn, and our love for the rushing waterfall just outside the hotel which washes the whole town in soothing white noise.
Reluctantly, we left the charming hotel after a bit of exploration. We returned to Alesund, Norway through an easy exchange of bus, ferry, and train rides, but not before a quick stop on the outset of the fjord to gaze back on the imposing vista. We were full in body and spirit; delighted by our discovery of this well-kept Norwegian secret and quietly musing on the memories of a perfect afternoon.*
Words by Anna Morris