Sunny, pink morning, and the promise of a warm day after yesterday’s fog, rain, ice, and snow. The lanscape quiet and still. Birdsong tentative. Soft, lush green moss and the sharp contours of bare granite emerging from winter’s snow blanket. Trees bare, letting all possible light in. Mist still curled up in the valleys, the outline of the hills visible against the blue sky.
I am fortunate to live in nature. And when traveling, even to urban areas, I am most at home when I can sleep near the blue of water or the green of mountains, parks and woods. Yesterday’s weather kept me inside and chained to my desk most of the day. My search for some fun, inexpensive places to stay for upcoming work travel quickly strayed into the territory of dreams that may – or may not – be realized.
What do I look for in a place to stay? Affordable. Clean – and clean design. Nature – even if just a touch. Fun and different. The reality is that more often than not, I succumb to the usual chain fare when traveling for work – when proximity, efficiency and affordability reign supreme. But when planning a trip, my dreams tend to stray into the search – far and wide, future and past. And every once in a while, between many nights in a mundane, just off the highway hotel, a dream comes true. A place to stop for the night, with a strong sense of place and heart, close to nature.
And though spring is teasing me with its warmer, lighter days, the stark beauty of ice and snow can be a compelling reason to travel further north. Someday I would love to spend a night – just one – within walls of ice and snow at any of these three hotels. The Snow Village in Finland, the Ice Hotel in Sweden or the Igloo Hotel in Norway. And the dream would be complete if I was blessed with a panorama of the Northern Lights in the night sky.
A little further south in Gudbrandsjuvet, Norway, in a landscape known to be full of the stuff fairy-tales are made of, the Juvet Landscape Hotel beckons with its promise of a glass and wood box of my own, tucked into the midst of a wild landscape, the inside modern and clean, the nature outside the only decor. Part of the amazing Turistvegen project in Norway, and voted 2010 Best Small Hotel by Travel and Leisure, it is high on the dream list, but expensive, so more likely that I’ll get to see it as a visitor when staying down the road at a basic hytte.
And if and when I next find myself in Copenhagen in search of a place to stay, I hope that there will be a room available for me at CPH Living Hotel, a dockside, maritime boat hotel floating on water, in a city laced with waterways. We were lucky to stay there a year ago at pre-season rates. Within view of the city center, and close to many popular attractions, it was an oasis in an urban setting. Small, modern, clean, one wall of glass, the waterway and the beautiful Copenhagen skyline on view – a dream come true.
And I will always jump at any chance to return to a long string of islands in the far north of Norway. Lofoten. Where rorbuer, traditional fishermen’s shacks have been turned into hotels. A few years back we caught some great deals in Nusfjord and at the Å Rorbuer. As basic as they were, they were pure heaven to stay in. A very small village, Å lies at the very southern tip of Lofoten, a long drive from anywhere, cod fishing and local history in evidence at small, funky museums. The magical combination of dramatic mountains and sea, the mystical and endless light, the codfish hung to dry on enormous wooden racks – will always remain with me.
My list goes on and on. But this will have to hold for now. Reality beckons, and a beautiful day awaits me, right here at home.