Even as compared against extremely expensive Norway, Bergen is considered to be a pricy city – you should keep it in mind, while looking for a hotel. “Why great deals of tourists do set off there?” – You might wonder. The thing is its location: the city is situated next to a picturesque fjord convenient for navigation. In addition, thanks to the Gulf Stream, Bergen is in a mild climate (for these latitudes, of course) and the cruise liners dock in all the year round. The undoubted advantage of this city is also an opportunity to see the surroundings famous for their natural beauty.
A significant number of travelers come to Bergen for 1–2 days only, however, one should well in advance see to booking a hotel room or a house on the fjord shore, because in addition to the tourists, the staff of various organizations, seconded to exhibitions, conferences or seminars come here, and there are not so much hotels in Bergen. In general, talking about the hotels in Bergen, it is worth noting, that the historical center of the city, where a huge number of hotels is located, is quite compact. That is why, it won’t be difficult to choose a hotel. At the same time, there are several things one should pay attention to.
What Area is the Best to Stay in Bergen?
Bryggen Embankment and Bergen Harbor
Perhaps the most authentic place to stay in Bergen is Bryggen embankment and the area around it, where merchants lived in the Middle Ages. It should be noted that the old wooden houses host museums, gift shops, cafes, restaurants, and artists' studios, but there are no apartments or hotels. However, there are some exceptions, for example, Det Hanseatiske Hotel, that is located in a wooden merchant building of the XVI century. The advantages of staying in the area with old houses are obvious: you are immersed in the authenticity of the place, and sense the spirit of the medieval hanseatic city. But there are peculiarities that may seem significant drawbacks: for example, there is often old wood smell in historic buildings. For me personally it is another touch to the authenticity, but you may find it unpleasant. Decorated in the darkened wood, the interiors sometimes create the impression of decay. Besides, the old buildings are not equipped with modern sound isolation, which is not very good, given the fact that Bryggen is the most popular place in Bergen and, thus, overcrowded. Historical buildings are located wall to wall, so if you decide to stay at one of them, most likely, your windows will look onto the walls and roofs of the neighboring buildings, but not onto the picturesque embankment. Finally, given the fact, that there are few hotels there, demand for accommodation is extremely high as well as the prices.
Within walking distance from the embankment, but in much more up-to-date buildings, there is still a number of nice hotels, for example, the Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret, Thon Hotel Bergen Brygge, Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Bergen. They are located, just like neighboring historic buildings, quite conveniently: Bryggen, of course, is within walking distance, it takes you 5-7 minutes on foot, the fish market is literally on the opposite side (though, I won’t shop for the grocery there: the prices are so sky-high! and behind the Clarion hotel there is quite a decent supermarket). It takes 15 minutes on foot to get to Bergen railway station and 5-10 minutes to the Fløibanen funicular. Besides, there is a bus stop nearby, and you can get to the airport from there. The advantages of hotels located at the embankment area include beautiful views from some hotel rooms onto the harbor and yachts, but you need to understand that the price, which is already high, is greatly affected by whether the view from your room is an impressive panorama or not. If you didn’t specifically book a room with a view, your windows are likely to look onto the courtyard. Though, this may not be so bad, given the fact that the embankment is busy round the clock and local bars and restaurants generate so much noise.
On the other side of the Bergen harbor (Bergen Havn) hotels are a bit less expensive than near Bryggen, but, in my opinion, views are much more spectacular there - multi-colored houses located at the embankment spread out before you. It takes 5-7 minutes longer to get to the city sights, however, they are still within reach. From my perspective, the prettiest (but probably the most expensive) option here is the Bryggen Panorama Suites apartments, with a fully equipped kitchen and stunning panoramic views onto the harbor and Bryggen. Interesting options, worth considering here, include such chains as Scandic Strand, Scandic Neptun and Best Western Hotel Hordaheimen.
Away from the Harbor
It is also convenient to stay a little away from the harbor and embankment in such areas as Nøstet and Nordnes: the sights are within walking distance (the quay is within 500-700 meters away and the funicular is in a 10 minute walk), the infrastructure is well developed here, but most of the tourists do not consider booking the accommodation here. And they should, as here are quiet cobbled streets, and cute houses with front gardens. Chain hotels here yield their position to local hotels and apartments, among which you may pay attention to Knøsesmauet Apartment and Klosterhagen Hotel.
You can stay at one of the hotels located at the Bergen railway station (Bergen stasjon) and the octagonal lake Lille Lungegårdsvann. There is a large selection of cafes and bars, and two large shopping malls nearby, as well as a quite sizeable car park and the bus stop to the airport. It takes a 3-5 minute walk to get to the fish market and 8-10 minutes to the funicular. However, it is worth noting, that there are some functioning churches in that area and the bells start ringing early in the morning, that is why I do not advise you to leave windows open for a night. Clarion Collection No 13 and Scandic Byparken may be considered as interesting options.
Moving back to the subject of high cost, I can’t help mentioning a relatively inexpensive accommodation option, which is renting a house or part of а house in the vicinity of Bergen. There is a lot of walking paths in the hills and mountains surrounding the city and it is pleasant to have a stroll there, especially if at the end of the path there is the view onto the fjord. It goes without saying that this option is suitable for those who travel around Norway by car. And this way the issue of parking is solved automatically. As in Bergen itself, due to a high demand for the houses, especially if they are located next to the fjord, it is worth booking hotel rooms well in advance. It should be noted that the rent does not cover the final cleaning, that is why at the end of your vacation you either have to pay extra money or clean the house yourself.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hotel in Bergen
An interesting feature of many Norwegian cities, including Bergen, is the fact that the entire local hotel sector is made of the representatives of Nordic chains like Radisson, Comfort, Scandic, Rica, Thon and Clarion Collection. If you prefer to stay at chain hotels, I advise you to have a closer look at the Clarion Collection chain, in whose hotels the accommodation cost includes, as a rule, not only a wonderful breakfast but tea and coffee throughout the day as well as snacks and a light dinner, which is not unnecessary, bearing in mind high prices for everything in Norway.
If you are planning to go to Bergen by car, it is worth noting, that there can be problems with parking places in the downtown: there are not so many parking lots and not all the hotels have parking places of their own, but if they are, they can be quite expensive. The way out is to stay somewhere on the outskirts of the city. However, this does not spare you the inconvenience of lack of parking areas, if you are going to set off for the downtown or one has to use public transport. In this case, when buying tickets, you can save a little by purchasing the Bergen Card, which, incidentally, among other benefits and discounts entitles you to preferential parking.
In the long run, I should mention that the majority of Norwegians speak English more or less fluently, that is why no problems with communication in the hotels, travel agencies and shops should arise.