There is little doubt that we will be returning to Voss. The adventure capital of Norway, it is ideally situated for the fjords and is only an hour from Bergen. If we time it well we could hop on a plane from Heathrow and be in Voss in three hours or so. Yet the small town of Voss feels as if it is in the middle of nowhere and as if it should take days to reach.
Our train from Oslo deposited us on the platform, about 10 yards away from our hotel – the main entrance to the hotel was on the platform itself. This seemed so strange that we decided to walk off the platform and around the front of the hotel, only to find no entrance there. We circled the entire hotel and wound up back on the platform. Our train still stood there; the people who watched us walk off the platform at one end of the hotel also watched us arrive back at the other end. It was all rather embarrassing.
Fleischer’s Hotel is an impressive building. It is situated at the bottom of Hanguren, the local hill. In the photo below you can just about make out a building at the crest. That’s the local cable car station, used by hikers in summer and skiers in winter.
In front of the hotel is a stretch of green grass which acts as one of the landing zones for the local paragliding community (did I mention Voss was the adventure capital of Norway?). And in front of the grass is Voss’s massive lake, Vangsvatnet. What a lake!
Now you might think it a little strange having a hotel on a railway platform. Indeed, our room backed on to the line. Trains ran from about 5:30am to 11pm and we were all of 30 feet away from them. Each morning we were woken up early by the announcements. You might think that to be cause for complaint, but no! Voss is such a relaxed place that we didn’t mind a bit. The 5:30am announcement would wake us up. We would drift back to sleep. The next announcement half an hour later would wake us up again. We would drift back to sleep again. We would continue this cycle feeling quite content, waking up a little more with each announcement – it was like having an extended lie in. No complaints at all!
Fleischer’s Hotel gets it right. Its decor isn’t modern, but neither is it outdated chintz. Fleischer’s boasts a proud history; it is in keeping with the its history without being out of touch. The hotel was originally built in the 19th Century and run by Frederick Fleischer with his wife, Magdalane. In 1883 the train line connected Voss with Bergen, and so Mr Fleischer decided to build a new hotel. This was completed in 1888. It opened for business, and 13 days later burned to the ground. The cause of the fire was put down to spontaneous combustion, but Mr Fleischer didn’t really care about that. He thought he was a ruined man. It was only later that he discovered his wife had purchased insurance, allowing the hotel to be rebuilt.
Towards the end of the century the hotel became a popular destination for royalty. King Haakon of Norway; King Oscar II of Sweden; Edward VII of Britain; King Chulalongkorn of Siam; and Emperor Willhelm II of Germany all stayed at Fleischer’s. Emperor Willhelm’s private toilet is on display (not so privately) in the hotel’s reception!
Date of Trip: 20 July 2014
Points in this post (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Fleischer’s Hotel: N 60° 37.725 E 006° 24.530