Admittedly, stocks aren’t our game – but hotels we do know, and our newest acquisition Bergen Børs Hotel has caused our interest rate to soar. Set in the glorious 19th-century Renaissance Revival building that once housed Bergen’s former stock exchange, by the city’s famous fish market, this luxurious stay is a high-net-worth individual, ideally placed for fjord exploring, funicular rides into the hills and wandering historic Bryggen. Inside, it’s the business, with modern interiors in walnut wood, leather and marble; tailored rooms; and two appreciable eateries: one like a fresco-clad cathedral, and Bare, which earnt Bergen its first Michelin star. All in all, it’s a credit to the city.
Get this when you book through us:
A 20 per cent discount in Frescohallen restaurant and two bottles of Eira water from the fjords; guests staying in a Junior Suite or Suite will get also get a welcome drink in Frescohallen
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability (charges may apply). Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £112.36 (NOK1,349), including tax at 12 per cent.
Rates include a buffet breakfast.
There are 13 rooms specially adapted for guests with mobility issues, with grab bars and wide spaces, and there’s a lift. However, those in wheelchairs should note that due to the building’s age and layout it can be tricky to manoeuvre through public areas.
There’s no spa at the hotel, but in 2023 there are plans to open an eco-focused property with wellness facilities next door.
At the hotel
Lounge with newspaper, magazines, tea and coffee; gym; charged laundry service; free WiFi. In rooms: Smart TV, Nespresso machine, minibar.
Our favourite rooms
In designing the rooms, Swedish design firm Claesson Koivisto Rune pared back the building’s opulent Renaissance Revival features, opting for uncomplicated Scandi minimalism. Inspiration came from the suited-and-booted workers who once bought low and sold high here: soothing greys and blues, style with the precision of tailoring, and subtle details – grid-patterned carpets, pinstripe wallpaper, splashes of houndstooth – make them sexily professional. But, if you’re a sucker for history, check into the Junior Suite which was once the stock exchange manager’s office and has a wealth of original features.
There’s no spa at the hotel, but their pampering partner Anne’s Skin Care & Spa (a 10-minute walk away) will make you look radiant, whether you opt for a simple facial or even a botox refresh. But, there is a 24-hour fitness room onsite, with Crossfit gear, treadmills, cycles and rowing machines. Yoga sessions are held here too, and personal trainers are available on request.
Lovely as it is, Bergen is also unavoidably soggy – in fact it’s the wettest city in Europe – so pack accordingly. But don’t worry if you forget your windbreaker, because the flagship of Norwegian Rain is here, a shop founded by wet-weather-wear geniuses Alexander Helle and T-Michael when they tired of having their looks washed out.
Architecture geeks, if you fall madly in love with the work the Claesson Koivisto Rune studio have done here, you can buy an art book about the conversion from Konst/ig Books.
This may have been a stock exchange, but it’s not really a place for shorts. Some rooms do sleep up to four, but there are no kid-friendly distractions onsite.
A great deal of work has gone into the upkeep of the buildings’ historic features (100-year-old frescoes, coffered ceilings, wood panelling, and the spectacular Renaissance Revival frontage), and modernisation has been respectfully carried out by the Claesson Koivisto Rune studio, staying true to the building’s character. Water-saving showers are used and eco-friendly cleaning products, and the hotel has subscribed to the ‘Eco-Lighthouse’ environmental-management scheme. And, in the restaurants, food is sourced sustainably, seasonally and locally (after all, the fish market is right there), and aside from serving dishes delicious enough to ensure clean plates, the kitchens aim to reduce food waste as much as possible.
Handelskammeret bar dazzles with its decor, so for a sitting-pretty perch grab an apéritif. In Frescohallen there’s a snuck-away private area reached by a staircase behind the main bar, you’ll need to book, hold an event or be a VIP.
The clamouring of traders has been replaced by convivial chatter in the building’s old stock exchange, but there’s still a bullish feeling to the place with muted tones and lots of wood, leather and marble. It’s now home to Bare, a blue-chip eatery which could confidently be called the best in Bergen – after all, it earnt the city its first Michelin star. Chefs Øystein Ellingsen and Morten Tungesvik achieved this by being justly picky about produce, sourced cross country. Their tasting menu – which changes frequently depending on what’s in season – might have Øygarden scallops, Solend Nordre Farm lamb or deer from Fusa, finished with plum and rye ice-cream, and with the option to leverage your meal by adding beluga – smart move. Bare might be the wunderkind, but second restaurant Frescohallen is coming up right behind. Cathedral-like with soaring vaulted ceilings and covered in commerce-themed frescoes by Axel Revold, it’s the kind of place where caviar is spooned onto waffles, bread comes with a side of chicken-liver cream, tomahawks swim in herb butter, and lobster takes many forms.
Handelskammeret bar, next to Bare on the third floor, would once have been full of wheeling-and-dealing, cigar-toting sorts as the former chamber of commerce, but it’s still richly regaled, with the original coffered ceiling, mirror tiles cut to replace the bar’s wooden ones and add disco sparkle in all directions, colour-stained windows, chandeliers and a solid marble counter. There are plentiful fine wines on offer, and barkeeps nip up and down a wooden ladder to pull bottles of spirits and mixers from the towering shelves to mix up top cocktails too – there’s no set menu, just tell them what you like and they’ll work intuitively. Frescohallen also has wow-factor by the wine-list load, and houses the Bareksten experience room, a low-lit space where spirits from the famed Norwegian distiller are crafted into delicious drinks – gin runs straight from a still at one end to a tap at the other, technically you could have a pint of gin, but maybe just stick to a balloon glass.
Breakfast is from 7am till 10am, and 8am till 11am on weekends. Bare is open Friday and Saturday, from 6pm till midnight.
Housed in Bergen’s former stock exchange, Bergen Børs Hotel occupies a pre-eminent position close to transport hubs, the city’s harbour and fish market.
Bergen Flesland Airport is the closest to the hotel, a 25-minute drive away, along which you’ll get a little taster for the fjords. It’s very well connected across Europe and even has a direct route from New York. From here you can ride the light rail to Byparken (the city park), which is just a block or two from the hotel, or the bus from the airport can drop you at the fish market which is on the hotel’s doorstep. Alternatively, transfers can be arranged on request.
Bergen Station is just a 10-minute walk away. You may not wish to drive the seven hours it takes to get from Oslo to Bergen, but the direct train, which takes around six hours, is reputed to be one of Europe’s most beautiful train rides, taking you through Norway’s mountainous and lushly forested vistas.
If you’re coming to Bergen on a city break, then you won’t need a car – there are many attractions within walking distance, and for everything else the public transport is reliable. However, it would be a shame to come to Bergen and not leave – not that the city isn’t captivating – but the seven hills and fjords surrounding it are even more so. Parking is less than a five-minute walk away at Klostergarasjen (the Monastery Garage), where guests get a 15 per cent discount if they validate their ticket at the hotel’s front desk.
Ferries from Holland, Copenhagen and northern Germany dock at Kristiansand further to the south, but for riding up and down the fjords you couldn’t be better placed with Strandkaien terminal on your doorstep and Hurtigruten a 15-minute walk away.
Worth getting out of bed for
As the former stock exchange, Bergen Børs Hotel has brokered itself a deal for one of the best locations in the city. Right by the harbour, and next door to Torgalmenningen (the main square), it's a jumping off point for riding the fjords, Bryggen’s spice-rack of vintage clapboard houses are just around the corner, the Fløibanen funicular launches you up to Fløyen mountain and into nature from close by, and you’re perched to join in the hustle-bustle of Bergen’s famous fish market. Why – you might wonder – do I want to go to a fish market? Trust us, it’s a lively, sensory, bring-the-whole-city-out affair with Instagrammable scenes of monstrous crustacea, and there’s street food to pick at as you go round. Admittedly, it’s hard to squeeze a king crab into a suitcase, but – being Scandinavia – Bergen has a ruinous amount of homeware and fashion boutiques. T-Michael’s store originally set out to reinvent the kimono for men, but the polymath owner couldn’t be held to just one thing and now it's a trove of luxe leather and tailoring, while Fresh Pepper on main thoroughfare Strandgatan picks forward-thinking designers to showcase. Majestically structured mall Galleriet is home-makeover heaven but you should also swing by Illums Bolighus for iconic pieces, Bolia for up-and-coming talent, and Ting Bergen for smaller quirkier items. The city’s art scene is immense – four galleries and three musician’s houses that make up Kode: the largest cultural collection in Scandinavia. Luckily they’re divvied up: Kode 1 has precious metals and antiquities in a grand 19th-century building, Kode 2 focuses on modern artwork (and has a great shop and cafe), Kode 3 has an impressive collection of Edvard Munch works and those from the Golden Age of Norwegian Art, and Kode 4 also has contemporary, socially conscious artwork. And you can head out into the islands and hills to see the estates of Ole Bull (a legend round here), Harald Sæverud, and Edvard Grieg. And, USF Verftet should be your next stop: a sardine factory converted into five multidisciplinary venues. When it comes to the fjords – which are as staggeringly beautiful as reputation has them – there are various styles of cruising them – you could take an active tour with stops for mountain biking and rafting, float down Unesco-protected Nærøyfjord to the Stegastein viewpoint, combine it with a ride on the Flåm Railway, or see – and maybe feel – towering waterfalls while drifting to the Mostraumen straits. Whichever you choose, you’ll have your thick woollen socks knocked off.
Bergen is said to be a city with ‘its feet in the sea, its head in the sky and a heart you can reach through its stomach’, except for that last bit, which we made up – although it doesn’t make it any less true. The city was designated a city of gastronomy in 2015, but with seafood straight from the fjords and fertile mountain pastures, they’ve been eating very well for yonks. Dive in at the deep end with a meal at Bryggen Tracteursted, set in one of the historic clapboard houses of the picturesque Bryggen neighbourhood. Start with gratinated stockfish drizzled in truffled seaweed oil, moving on to breaded cod tongues or pickled herring with all the fixings, and then perhaps reindeer fillet with sweet brown goat cheese or Aquavit-marinated lamb. Then get a sense of Bergen’s modern cooking scene at Restaurant 1877, where the eight-course menu focuses on fish: aged halibut with lemon verbena and salmon roe, scallop with elderflower and clementine, and caviar with white chocolate and lingonberry. Lysverket is a study in svelte Norwegian decor – you may not be able to take home the chairs or pendant lights, but you can revel in the aestheticism as you eat brown crab with garlic mayonnaise, dry-aged barbecued pork-neck rillettes in a blackcurrant sauce and brown-cheese parfait with sea buckthorn and a splash of white-chocolate cream.
Kafe Kippers is set in an old cannery factory, but you’ll find most Bergensers on its pier-set terrace, even in the rain. Should that happen, they serve a warming hot chocolate. Landmark is an equally creative-luring industrial-style hangout that serves coffee from Jacu roastery, warming meals and natural wines by day, and then turns into a club in the evening.
Børskjelleren bar shares the hotel’s building, set in a former shoe shop. Its focus is beer and there are several Norwegian ones to get acquainted with – say, those by Hansa, Bergen’s brewery or from Nøgne brewery in Grimstad. It may be serious about suds, but the bar’s a fun hang, with a pool table, quizzes and DJ nights. And if that’s not quite high-energy enough then head to Sjenerøs nightclub – popular with students – in the basement.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this palatial dividend-paying pad by Bergen’s harbour and unpacked their iconic homewares from Illums Bolighus and checked their shares on the Robinhood app, a full account of their city-to-fjord break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Bergen Børs Hotel in Norway…
When it comes to hotels in Norway, the market is up. You see, this glamorous stay Bergen Børs Hotel, spread over three prominent financial institutions (most prominently the spectacular 19th-century Renaissance Revival building that once housed the city’s stock market) has taken the ‘fun’ from ‘hedge fund’ and run with it. Swedish design studio Claesson Koivisto Rune has playfully put the past into the primly Scandi interiors, using leather, walnut wood and marble slabs as a nod to the bullish baying of its former trade, and in rooms, tailoring tropes (pinstripe wallpaper, houndstooth accents, grid-patterned carpets) nod to suited workers in fashionable form. And, the building’s considerable assets have been leveraged by turning them into extraordinary eateries and bars: notable New Nordic joint Bare, which was Bergen’s first Michelin star achiever, sacrosanct cathedral-like Frescohallen with its large-scale artworks, and Handelskammerset, once the chamber of commerce, now a cocktail bar with sparkle in all ways, from the chandeliers to its mirrored tiling to the company. And, as a Very Important Building, the hotel has secured the best seat in the city. From here the harbour’s steps away for fjord sojourns, historic Bryggen and the main square are steps away, a funicular can ride you up into Bergen’s seven hills, and you’re in pole position for observing the famous fish market. Whichever way you calculate it, with this high-yield hideaway, Bergen’s stock is on the rise.