Follow the footsteps of adventurers, royals, writers and lovers
Opened for the first time in 1889 Hotel Union Øye has seen peace and war, endured times of abundance as well as austerity, it has been fashionable and almost forgotten, it has seen great love stories and despair, and it has remained almost stubbornly beautiful over such a long time, in such an unlikely location.
You do not visit this hotel by accident. After more than 130 years it is still a well kept secret. Perhaps this is why every guest is greeted with such a warm welcome, both from the hotel’s people and the blazing fireplace. You get a sense that the hotel has been waiting for you, waiting to offer you a meal, a drink, a bed? Everybody knows getting there is a journey and will go to any lengths to make you immediately comfortable.
In the evenings, around 10, one of the hotel’s staff will tell their stories, intertwined with the stories of the hotel. If you’re lucky you may even hear Maren or Mariann sing a local lullaby before going to bed.
The people you meet are local, from Øye, Hornidal, or nearby Volda, or Lesha. They live their lives among the imposing mountains. They know every nook and cranny and will guide you to an adventure that suits, whether hiking to the highest tops or taking in the magnificence of your surroundings from the comfort of the hotel itself.
The steep mountain sides envelope the hotel. Nature is not nearby; you are in it. You will feel the wind sometimes caress, sometimes assault the walls of the hotel, but is there any better feeling in the world than being safe, warm, and snug inside as the weather sloshes, swishes and swoops outside? To be fair, the weather changes constantly. You can watch it happen through the glass ceiling of the conservatory or go outside and really feel it on your skin. Sigurd takes a dip in the fjord every day of the year, and if you are tempted to join, which you are welcome to, please be advised that the temperature may reach a maximum of 15 degrees Celsius in the hight of summer.
The food is exquisite, and also local. The hotel, farmers and artisans work together to make sure that the produce fits the needs of the hotel, and that the hotel supports the local community, its fishers, farmers and other small scale suppliers, by making sure there is a market for their goods. While it does contribute to the vitality of the community, it is also the best way to secure access to produce of the finest quality. Once secured, the kitchen will make use of all of it, finding interesting ways to smoke, cure, pickle and salt the meats, the seafood, and vegetables.
Chef Knut describes his kitchen as untrendy. He wants guests to feel pampered rather than provoked. And yet there is a playfulness, creativity and celebration of local ingredients that takes the contemporary French cuisine of Union Øye to a place that is unique to this spot on the North Western coast of Norway. It is accessible and unfamiliar, all at the same time.
You will have heard of gravlax, for example, but have you ever started a meal with a gravmonkfish amuse bouche? There is crayfish ravioli and the tenderest slow cooked ox, and to finish it off a chocolaty orb, so simple it has to be flawless, and it is. The real tell-tale of the quality of a kitchen lies in the basics. You can tell the kitchen loves and spoils Soso, the sourdough, and she returns the favour in full. With bread and butter like this, you want for nothing.
Before making it a night, you may want to stop by the library, enjoy the game room, or perhaps head to the bar with its palms and giant ferns, for cocktails or mocktails. Thomas, the bar manager, takes extra pride in making its non alcoholic options as sublime as their counterparts, whether for younger guests or guests that simply prefer it that way.
Leaving is hard. Rune or Mariann will walk with you to make it easier, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself hugged in goodbye. The hotel Union Øye is a true representative of the contrasts of New Nordic Luxury. It embodies the extremes of the harsh, unforgiving, spectacular scenery of the Sunnmøre Alps, and the, quite literally, warm embrace of the hotel, the people who work there and the entire community committed to your comfort.