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Discover Brakanes Hotel, which has been a cherished local landmark in western Norway since the mid-19th century.

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Brakanes Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2023, dates back to 1860.


In 1860, an enterprising coachman named Sjur Brakanes decided to open a quaint inn along the shoreline of the Hardangerfjord in his hometown of Ulvik, Norway. Known as the “Brakanes Hotel,” Sjur hoped the building would help him further facilitate the transportation of people and goods alike. It soon emerged as one of the region’s most popular destinations, becoming a beloved communal fixture in the process. Later his daughter, Kari Lindebrække, and her husband, Hans, assumed control over the iInn in 1884. Expanding upon Sjur’s earlier success, the two proceeded to construct several luxurious bedrooms. Brakanes Hotel then underwent an even greater economic boom once communication between Norway and Great Britain increased exponentially toward the end of the 1890s. Dozens of British cruise ships and private yachts began to anchor regularly in Ulvrik, providing the Brakanes Hotel with another rich source of clientele. Tourism to the area flourished as a result, enabling Kari and Hans to increase the size of the building by another 50 units. Perhaps the inn’s most endearing quality was its close resemblance to a Swiss chalet, which helped acclimate the new visitors to Ulvik’s own alpine heritage. But Kari passed away in 1902, leaving the iInn to the care of her two daughters—Marta Nielsen and Sara Lindebrække. The sisters endeavored greatly to ensure that the standards established by their predecessors endured over the following years.
Brakanes Hotel continued to host numerous guests in great numbers, even in the wake of World War I. The Lindebrække family initiated another round of renovations that installed a wealth of then-innovative amenities, like conventional plumbing and modernized dining. Unfortunately, this renewed era of prosperity ended abruptly during World War II. On the morning of April 25, 1940, a small German fleet of five torpedo boats and one minesweeper entered Ulvik harbor as part of the much larger invasion occurring throughout the rest of the country. Once within range, the vessels began bombarding the town in a serenade of cannon fire that lasted for some time. Nearly every building in Ulvik suffered, including the Brakanes Hotel. The Lindebrække family remained undeterred and resolved to save their beloved inn. In 1949, they first reopened the structure as a boarding house before instituting a more comprehensive restoration. Presiding over the project was the renowned Bergen-based architect Kristian Bjerknes, who designed 124 guestrooms of which 44 contained their own personal baths. But Bjerknes had also striven to resurrect the Brakanes Hotel’s historic character wherever possible in order to guarantee its fascinating heritage remained intact for future generations to appreciate.
The revitalized Brakanes Hotel finally debuted to great local acclaim in 1952. Business came back strong once again in the years that followed, much to the delight of the Lindebrække family. But starting in the 1970s, the local tourism industry went into an unfortunate period of decline that gradually affected the Brakanes Hotel. The Lindebrækkes ultimately chose to sell the hotel to the Müller Hotell Group in 1980, despite their best efforts to remedy the situation. The Pedersen family then agreed to lease the structure from the new owners, vowing to maintain the legacy that the Lindebrækkes had originally established. The Pedersens oversaw renovations over the next two decades that aimed to preserve the fantastic reputation and identity of the Brakanes Hotel. Terrific amenities appeared for the first time within the Brakanes Hotel, such as a marvelous new restaurant. Then, in 2015, DNB Bank acquired the historic site and hired Stay Tuned Hospitality to manage it on their behalf. The owner and chairman of Stay Tuned Hospitality, Björn Kovacs, adored the hotel so much that he eventually bought it outright with Ole Lilland three years later. Thanks to their dedicated efforts, Brakanes Hotel continues to be the area’s most celebrated holiday destination. They have specifically overseen further renovations to the conference center, reception area, and restaurants, ensuring their collective heritage remains perfectly preserved.

  • About the Location +

    Located along the shoreline of the picturesque Hardangerfjord, Ulvik is a tranquil bucolic village that sits right in the heart of historic Western Norway. Its most well-known historical era coincided with the rise of the Vikings—a seafaring people active throughout Europe during the Middles Ages. Technological innovations in Norway’s western counties effectively increased local agriculture, and thus the size of its population. New land to distribute became increasingly rare, forcing the inhabitants to look to the sea for opportunity. Using a uniquely slim, single-mast vessel known now as the “Scandinavian longship,” hundreds of people subsequently departed Western Norway to distant destinations. One common practice of the Vikings was to raid the shoreline of Europe for resources. Some of those warriors succeeded in carving out feudal fiefdoms—including powerful kingdoms—within the areas they conquered. But many others peacefully interacted with different European societies, establishing trading posts all over the continent. The Vikings were even known to harbor merchant colonies as far away as central Russia and the Middle East. A few adventurous bands of Vikings also sailed for long distances to remote landmasses like Iceland and Greenland, which they settled starting in the 10th century. In fact, modern archeological evidence has revealed that the Vikings managed to colonize Newfoundland, calling the location “Vinland” in contemporary accounts.
    While the age of the Vikings has long since ended, many sites around Western Norway still preserve the rich history that they left behind. One of the most enduring landmarks to this heritage site is the medieval Urnes Stave Church, located at the end of the Sognefjord. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Urnes Stave Church was first built during the 12th century. Many scholars believe the building is among the best surviving examples of Viking culture, especially as it evolved throughout the High Middle Ages. (The church is still occasionally used for special events, although it stopped providing regular services in the 19th century.) Nevertheless, modern Western Norway is also a popular tourist attraction due to its wealth of natural wonders. Indeed, the region is widely celebrated for its fjords—long, deep waterways that receding masses of ice cut into the earth eons ago. Known for their beauty, the fjords are the region’s most enduring physical feature. The United Nations has even identified two of the largest fjords in the area—Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord—as one if its highly respected UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other fascinating geographic landmarks reside in Western Norway as well, including the Hardangervidda National Park, which is located just an hour away from Ulvik by motor vehicle. The largest national park in all Norway, this vast mountain plateau is a favorite site for cultural heritage travelers who adore hiking, cycling, fishing, and rock climbing.

  • About the Architecture +

    While the current exterior of the Brakanes Hotel stems from the 1950s, its architectural appearance is an homage to the earlier vernacular aesthetics that originally defined it decades prior. Norwegian vernacular building themes—referred to colloquially as “byggeskikk”—specifically drew inspiration from generational construction techniques that harkened back centuries. Until the onset of the 20th century, most structures throughout Norway were agricultural in nature. They typically resided deep in the wilderness and made use of whatever resources were available. Norwegian families thus developed hardy log cabins that were tightly latched together with corner notches to protect against the elements. Those houses also featured rustic architectural designs inside, including open-hearth fireplaces and stone chimneys. However, a few communal structures spawned more eloquent designs, such as the iconic medieval “stave church.” Stave churches were typically designed using a type of wooden timber framing known as “post and lintel” construction, in which widely spaced vertical posts supported horizontal ones. Steeply pitched roofs reinforced by several intricately laid beams further characterized the overall design of the stave churches. Prominent dormers and steeple towers occasionally crowned the structures, too, in a manner reminiscent of more conventional Romanesque-style churches seen elsewhere throughout Europe. Great portals even guided visitors into the interior, which instilled a sense of awe with a variety of rich ornamentation connected to Norse iconography and the local alpine landscape. Some of the symbols employed drew upon ancient motifs centered around dragons and serpents. (Perhaps the greatest example of a surviving Norwegian stave church is the UNESCO-recognized Urnes Stave Church.) Nevertheless, the basic antecedents of Norwegian vernacular architecture persisted for many years, ultimately influencing the creation for all kinds of buildings for many years.