Juvet Landscape Hotel, Valldal, Norway

A ghostly glass structure hidden amid the birch forest of Valldal, Norway, this isolated Nordic stay blends pared-back living with silver-screen kudos.

If you've seen the spooky - but stylish - 2014 sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, you'll remember Alicia Vikander's definitive fembot slinking around a sleek glass house encased in deep forest. The film was shot almost entirely on location at this Snøhetta-designed Norwegian wilderness residence, a 90-minute drive from the city of Ålesund.

The property's glass cabins seem to play hide-and-seek among the birch forest, scattered at different heights along a lush river bank in Valldal, western Norway, with rambunctious moss and blueberry-hued heather tickling their doorsteps. Guests dine together nightly after long days of hiking, skiing, kayaking - or simply lounging in the on-site spa, which overlooks the dramatic waterway.

A Bird House suite at Juvet Landscape Hotel

One of Juvet's forest huts, left, and views from the The Bath House.


The luxury lies in this place's unplugged approach. In your hypermodernist glass cube on stilts, surfaces are simple and unfussy, sheets are white cotton and crisp, and there's little else. Expect stripped-down comfort in terms of technology, too: no power showers, no telephone, no TV, no hairdryer.

Across three room categories, there are seven forest-gazing Landscape Rooms, two Bird Houses, perched high on stilts, and the singular Writer's Lodge, a palatial 70sq m rental perfect for a group. Interiors are minimalist across the board (as are amenities). It's all about soaking up the landscape beyond the glass walls. Our Landscape Room featured a bed, shower, and that was about it. In the bathroom, you'll find organic soap and shampoo. WiFi is patchy at best, but that's almost a blessing. You're not here to surf; save the 'gramming for when you get home.

What's for breakfast?

Norwegian breakfast spreads just hit differently - probably because the athletic locals need a hearty fill before they set out to cross-country ski, raft rapids or traverse tundras in lip-cracking temperatures. There's porridge, fruit, fresh sourdough, wild salmon, eggs, a divine cheese selection, including famous Norwegian brown cheese, and homemade jams and chutneys. Plus, the yummiest apple juice we've ever tried.

How about lunch and dinner?

We checked in late afternoon after a long day of driving and wandering and, while the kitchen kindly offered some nuts, fruit and cheese to sustain us before dinner, there's no lunch per se. However, staff are happy to recommend local spots to try.

A bedroom at Juvet Landscape Hotel
Views out across the Norwegian mountains

Minimalist sleeping arrangements, left, and mountain views from the hotel.

The evening feast is worth fasting for, though. Taking place communally in the old cow barn on site at 8pm sharp, diners are seated at long oak tables, offered aperitifs and then listen to a detailed introduction to the meal from the chef. A lavish three-course dinner showcases foraged, hunted and fished goods of the season. The menu is ever-changing, but you can expect the likes of whale carpaccio, bacalao (Norwegian salted cod) with potatoes, and a moussey cloudberry dessert.


Guests have access to The Bath House spa, built largely in glass beside a forest river. Wrap up in robes and towels to experience the sauna, hot tub, and silent retreat room.

This is a hotel that gazes out, not in. Skiing, hiking, climbing and fjord adventuring (including kayaking and rafting) are all available to hotel guests, at additional cost.

How about their green credentials?

The century-old farm building in Burtigarden has been restored using original materials. The cow byre is now the dining room and lounge, complete with an open hearth; the pigsty is the kitchen. Head outside to the old hay store and you'll find it transformed into an outdoor lounge area where you can relax and read under blankets to a soundtrack of birdsong.

What about accessibility?

Sadly, the snow, ice, sharp drops and climbs to cabins make this stay quite wheelchair-unfriendly. It's a 90-minute drive from the nearest airport, Ålesund, and there's no public transport access.

What's the crowd?

Despite the dispersed arrangement of the glass cabins and treehouses among the woods, you'll actually get up close and personal with your fellow guests. The collective dinners with people from all over the world - hikers, skiers, romancers, solo sojourners, young families - result in evenings to remember. You'll likely meet the same people in the spa, too.

Things I should know

Structurally and geographically - as well as gastronomically - this is a striking stay, with friendly hosts who will help you however they can. But don't expect elite pampering, fancy mod cons and room service. People come here to bask in the design, history and land.

Within a short walk I can find…

Hikes, peaks, streams, rivers, deer, birds, valleys and strawberry farms. Just make sure you arrive in a car, to avoid any Ex Machina-esque endings, right?

The Lowdown

A Landscape Room double costs from £329 a night.
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