The architectural masterpiece by Jensen & Skodvin, a resort envisioned by Knut Slinning, perhaps most well known as one of the main locations in the movie Ex Machina, is a hotel that defines what modern luxury can be all about. Instead of adding features they reduce the experience to it’s bare essentials in a magic and care-free environment, and in doing so treats all of its guests with a small glimpse of what Nirvana would probably be like.
Juvet is located right across the road from Gudbrandsjuvet, one of the natural wonders of the west Norwegian fjord landscape. This is between Trollstigen and Valldal in an area so sharp, raw and beautiful that you just can’t believe it actually exists on this earth. The hotel is situated next to some small farms in a valley where a stream with cold and fresh water from the mountains makes an impressive natural bend.
The hotels first phase was built in 2007-2010, with two additional rooms (the ”bird nests”) in 2012-2013. During the entire construction the utmost care has been taken in not impacting the environment. Part of the deal with the conservation authorities was to not use any explosives or changing the terrain. As a result all of the rooms are free-standing suites placed on poles that make them seemingly float in the landscape.
All landscape rooms (7 in total) have a main area with a panoramic windows wall looking out over the landscape, a sleeping alcove and a bathroom. Room number 4 has the best location, right on the edge over the stream (also the one used for the indoor gym sequence in Ex Machina). Most of the other shots in the movie that uses Juvet is from the bath house which was re-purposed as the dining room. This building contains a steam sauna, an outdoor hot tub and multiple lounge areas. The porch overlooking the bend in the stream is located here.
While I associate the architecture with concrete and glass, the rooms actually don’t contain any concrete at all. They’re all wood and glass, with the bath house and the conference center having the bare concrete walls and polished concrete floor in the case of the bath house.
Inside the rooms there’s dark brown wood and textiles, making the interior simply disappear while showcasing the nature outside. The result was that we found ourselves just wanting to stay in the two lounge chairs in the main room, either reading, talking or just being.
Of course, with the nature available literally just around the corner you might also want to head out to take one of the easier hikes in the area, visit Gudbrandsjuvet or the Trollstigen vantage point or explore the nature. There’s an abundance of hiking trails in the Trollstigen area and many, many ”scenic viewpoints” for those that prefer to explore by car. During summer the Trollstigen switchbacks will fill up and become one continuous line of slow moving vehicles, but early mornings and during autumn you can have the road basically for yourself.
Eating options in the area is quite limited and even more considering a ferry is necessary to get to Geiranger (as an aside, road 51 from Beitostølen over Jotunheimen to road 15 into Geiranger, Valldal and Juvet is one of the most spectacular in the world). Jordbærstova is available just down the road, serving home cooked food, but unfortunately the tourist cafés underwhelm when it comes to what they serve compared to the architecture and the surroundings.
Juvet, however, doesn’t disappoint. Breakfast is included in the price and a three-course set dinner is 600 NOK extra per person (lunch is not served). The dinner is worth every krona, not only far surpassing anything else available in a 2 hour radius but also being extremely local in nature, using produce and ingredients from the forest and farmers in the immediate vicinity. The Chef and general handyman bases the food on traditional dishes but updates them to modern tastes and nordic minimalism with an international level execution.
Food is served in an old, red barn. The contrast couldn’t be more stark from the other buildings, but it feels extremely warm and inviting. Usually everyone is seated on a large, communal table, but with few people dining individual dining spots are sometimes arranged.
Juvet is a perfect retreat for us busy city people. Somewhere we can just let the outside world continue to spin while we recharge our batteries. There’s enough interest to keep at least a year long waiting list for weekend spots during late spring through september. It would be easy to expand or bring the hotel more upscale. But what makes Juvet special is the natural exclusivity. It’s simply impossible to scale it while keeping it like it is, and to bring it more upscale for the sake of making logistics easier would also take away some of the imposed simplicity. The result is that even with rooms costing 1750 NOK per person per night the value is through the roof, as long as you have the patience and ability to plan ahead.
Suites at 1750 NOK/night per person. Reservations necessary. Alstad, 6210 Valldal, Norway. http://www.juvet.com/en