Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A charming, historic property that's a convenient home base for fjord cruises and outdoor activities
The Fretheim Hotel has long been a destination for tourists looking to explore Norway's natural wonders. In the late 19th century, English lords came to Flam and stayed at the farm of Christen Fretheim while they fished for salmon or hunted for nearby game. The farm soon developed into a hotel, and today it welcomes tourists who flock to Flam for fjord cruises, hiking, and in the winter, cross country skiing.
The current hotel incorporates the original historic building, and the rooms in the Historic Wing are designed to look as they might have over a hundred years ago. For true authenticity, they don't even have TVs -- just old-fashioned working radios. In the lobby, historic charm is blended with contemporary mountain style for a rustic-chic feel. The ample pine, leather club chairs, and plaid fabrics feel lodge-like, while the furniture upholstered in rich purples and blues adds a trendy element. The gas fireplace and adjacent stacked wood (which must be purely stylistic) add both literal and figurative warmth. The most notable feature, though, might be the view through the soaring glass windows of the steep surrounding mountains. The windows extend upward to the second-floor restaurant, which projects over the lobby.
Many tourists who come to Flam only stay for the few hours after their arrival on the Flam Railway (the train journey here fully deserves its reputation as one of the most scenic in Europe) and before their departure on a fjord cruise. As a result, the hotel restaurant gets a lot of lunch traffic from non-guests. The hotel serves locally sourced food from nearby farms alongside dramatic mountain views.
Lodging options in Flam are limited, and the Fretheim Hotel is the largest and most notable property, with a location right across from the harbor where fjord cruises depart. It also offers more property features than other lodging options -- not only a restaurant, but a sauna, outdoor hot tub, a library, coffee bar, lobby bar, wine cellar, hair salon (run by an independent company), and extensive meeting and event spaces. The remote location and lack of competition makes for expensive rates.
Gorgeous, remote location on an arm of the Sognefjord
The Fretheim Hotel is located in the tiny village of Flam, in a valley surrounded by steep mountains. It's the final destination for the Flam Railway, which visitors take through the mountains to reach the village, often as part of the "Norway in a Nutshell" tours. It is considered one of the most scenic train rides in Europe. Many visitors stay in Flam for a few hours before departing on a two-hour cruise of the Aurlandsfjord and Naerofjord, two arms of the Sognefjord, which is arguably the most beautiful and famous fjord in Norway. The harbor at the end of the Aurlandsfjord where boats depart is right across from the hotel.
Most rooms have basic mid-range decor, but both Historic Rooms and American Wing Rooms are luxurious
Most of the rooms at the Fretheim hotel are bland and mid-range, with light wood furniture and chain-like style. They do have flat-screen TVs and coffeemakers; some have impressive views of the harbor and mountains.
The Historic Rooms and American Wing Rooms, however, are much higher-end. American Wing Rooms -- designed to please the hotel's increasing number of American guests -- have sophisticated contemporary decor. The one we saw had a rich blue bedspread with a geometric design, leather headboard with silver metal studs, a white wood accent wall, and a chandelier.
Historic Rooms are designed to look as they might have over a hundred years ago when the English lords first came to Flam to fish, and are located in the historic section of the hotel. Decor between the Historic Rooms varies, but expect lovely authentic details such as pine wood floors, antique furniture, china tea sets, working old-fashioned radios, and in the bathrooms, clawfoot tubs and pull-flush toilets. For the sake of historical accuracy, there are no TVs.
For large groups, the old storehouse (dating to 1928) can be rented out. It has five bedrooms and can accommodate up to six people. It is painted traditional red on the outside, and has a charmingly rustic feel on the inside.
The restaurant serves local cuisine alongside gorgeous mountain views
The main restaurant serves a breakfast buffet, a la carte lunch, and dinner with both a la carte and buffet options. The hotel uses mostly locally sourced food, including meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables.
Several organized tours available through the hotel
The hotel can help arrange a number of organized tours for guests. These include:
The 121-room Fretheim Hotel is the main hotel in tiny Flam, a village that's the jumping off point for a number of fjord cruises. The property has a rich history -- it dates back to the late 19th century -- and the common spaces have charm to spare. Rooms, however, are a mixed bag; 80 percent have basic mid-range decor, while the rest are higher-end. (American Wing Rooms are contemporary, while Historic Wing Rooms -- though lacking TVs for added authenticity -- are lovely and quaint.) The hotel makes the most of its unique, naturally beautiful location with soaring glass windows in the lobby and restaurant that frame the steep surrounding mountains.