a devastating fire destroyed almost three-quarters of the
town in 1904, it’s a small wonder Ålesund is still standing at all.
Yet this thriving sea port is perhaps more architecturally
arresting than it ever has been, thanks to a huge rebuilding
project that took place after the fire over the course of only
three years, breathing life back into its candy-coloured art
nouveau buildings to Unesco-World-Heritage standards. Now home to
Norway’s largest cod-fishing fleet, the town is a springboard for
some of the country’s best natural wonders, from snaking fjords to
At the heart of the old town is Hotel Brosundet, a family-owned
urban inn providing the ideal base for outdoor excursions including
fishing trips, sailing, skiing and hiking. Converted from two
adjoining fish-packing warehouses into an elegant contemporary
bolthole, the hotel has managed to retain an intimate feel despite
its size. Come here and cosy up to the central lobby’s roaring open
fire, or gaze out from widescreen windows as fishing vessels unload
their catch of the day.
Among the hotel’s 131 rooms you’ll find colour palettes that
vary from cool greys and creams to cocooning charcoals and
chocolates. Scandi minimalism shines through with swoon-worthy
touches like soft linen bed sheets, Tom Dixon-esque floor lamps and
squishy sheepskin rugs, all accented by exposed wooden beams and
brushed-wood floorboards. Contemporary, spa-like bathrooms are
fitted with plate-glass showers, with huge egg-shaped ceramic
bathtubs in the larger suites, while all shelves are lined with
heavenly scented REN bath products. The most regal bedroom of them
all? Room 47, a lighthouse at the end of the jetty, where breakfast
is served from a hamper left outside each morning.
The mustard yellow frontage, left, and a room at the hotel |
Photo credit: Brandon Scott Herrell, Kristin Støylen
What’s for breakfast?
Amble down to the hotel’s fjord-facing dining area come morning
and you’ll find a buffet spread of cereals, organic breads and
juices, plus hot options including eggs many ways, all accompanied
by strong coffee and Pukka teas. Prefer to get your morning
caffeine hit surrounded by locals? Head for Butikken, the hotel’s
own coffee shop, where you’ll find just-baked loaves of sourdough
and freshly brewed coffee at the counter.
How about lunch and dinner?
The hotel’s main restaurant, Apotekergata No. 5, is a
fish-focused affair, offering a rotating menu of three, five or
seven courses. Ingredients are dictated by what’s in season, with a
strong emphasis on locality (think cod plucked straight from the
fjords that day). All menus are accompanied by optional beer, cider
and wine pairings.
Is there a bar?
Literally translated as “Archive Bar”, Arkivet Bar is tucked
away in a moody, candlelit corner at the back of the hotel. Walls
are lined with eclectic local artworks and the cocktail menu – a
crafty curation of old-time classics with a twist – is served till
Cool greys paired with Scandi minimalism, left. Rooms offer
cosy bed linens and soft colour palettes, right | Photo credit:
Under construction during our visit, the now freshly revamped
Sundet Gym and Bath is a whitewashed wellness studio that gives on
to the Brosundet canal. Made up of a fitness room, outdoor sauna
and bathtub, as well as a sanctuary-like space for yoga and
meditation, it’s the perfect place for a spot of reflection after a
day out on the water.
How about their green credentials?
Top scores on the sustainability front go to the hotel’s food
and drink ethos – a hyperlocal approach to produce where everything
is sourced from environmentally sound fisheries and farms.
What about accessibility?
This being a former fish packhouse, Hotel Brosundet’s sloping
floors can be tricky to manoeuvre in a wheelchair, although the
property’s restaurant, coffee shop and bar are all accessible from
the ground floor.
What’s the crowd?
A hotspot for outdoorsy types here for the region’s fresh air,
clean waters and numerous hiking trails, the hotel also draws in
locals to its restaurant, which is just as popular for business
lunches as it is for romantic evening dinners.
Things I should know
Ask for a fishing rod at reception and you might be lucky enough
to catch your next meal straight from the quayside outside.
Within a short walk I can find……
Architectural wonders at every turn, plus a clutch of cultural
highlights including Sunnmøre Museum, the Aalesunds Museum and the
Jugendstilsenteret Art Nouveau Centre.