Basecamp Explorer, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway ****

Q: What is it? A: A rustic and friendly outpost of great Norwegian service (yes, you did read that sentence correctly!) and a homey atmosphere, albeit with rooms on the smaller side.

Even though it doesn't really look like it, the Basecamp Explorer Trapper Hotel is located in the very heart of Longyearbyen.

The Fangstmannshotellet is located in the very heart of the not so densely planned Longyearbyen – or The Basecamp Explorer Trapper Hotel if you click on the English flag.

The style at the Basecamp Explorer is... rustic.

A regular room at the Basecamp Explorer, I suppose. Cozy, but not exactly a huge space. In fact, there’s room for three, if you are brave enough to use ladder to the loft.

These two beds provided the principal space for sleep in room # 10 at the Basecam Explorer.

Dear valued guests, please sleep over there… Yes, in that crammed little corner space. Absolutely, those are your beds, that’s correct.

If these walls could only talk! Many a fearless polar explorer shat here!

Behind the door in the previous picture: The bathroom of room #10. With photo wallpapers and all. And when you got the hang of it: Hot water.

If you are a real fangstmann from Svalbard, it's very likely that you've shot a few polar bears.

The Fangstmannshotellet is playing on their trapper image. Here’s the breakfast room (sometimes doubling as dining room). The white thing on the wall is not a velvet poster.

I never thought I'd be writing this, but I tasted whale in Longyearbyen, and it was delicious.

These tiny pieces of meat once belonged to a swimming mammal. It’s whale. Smoked mink whale. And I hate myself for writing this, but… it WAS delicious.

I arrived with an opinion. Shame on me.
Perhaps I should clarify, I didn’t arrive with an opinion about the hotel, but about Norwegian hospitality. Our friends and neighbors have had at least 25 years to impress me, but failed miserably. But on arrival to this hotel I instantly felt genuinely welcome! Yes… in Norway! If the Basecamp Explorer is a sign of the days to come – it’s a good sign. However, you won’t find the Basecamp Trapper’s Hotel on the Norwegian mainland. It’s situated right at the heart of Longyearbyen, north of the 78th parallel but it’s still managed and manned by Norwegians.

Sleeping like a log surrounded by… logs.
”…decorated in traditional trapper’s style” they say on their website. Very true, it’s more rustic than most. One guide also told me that the founder of this hotel ”borrowed” a lot of wood from the former mining settlement in Coles Bay. It might just be true. Much of the lodge seems to be constructed by real driftwood. It could look Disney-ish, but it doesn’t.
Rooms are nice (and of course rustic) not very spacious. The relative lack of space is OK. Worse is that they don’t offer you a lot of opportunities to store your stuff. Clothes will be piling up if you don’t maintain an almost military discipline. Room for improvement, dear Basecamp!

Saves the morning: Waffles!
Breakfast is what separates a good hotel from a great hotel and at the Basecamp Explorer they know how to pull it off. The expected selection of bread, cereal and juice is there along with various kinds of ham, cheese and even herring. Omelette or scrambled eggs? Fo’sho. And… Tadaa! Waffles! You will have to work the waffle iron yourself, but I don’t see it as a disadvantage. The breakfast may get a little crowded despite the relatively small size of the hotel, so sound the reveille early.
The restaurant Kroa shares the building with the hotel. You’ll get there through a convenient connecting door. The staff is very friendly and you’ll be able to feast on smoked mink whale (see above) and shellfish soup before attacking the catch of the day.

No television in the rooms?
This is not the place for those of you who’d like to follow Snooki’s adventures on the Jersey Shore but WiFi is free (waaay better than television, if you ask me). Also, there are no minibar in the room but free coffee and cookies in the lobby. As long as you adapt to the Longyearbyen tradition of taking of your shoes off, leaving them in the reception, you will feel very much at home at the Fangstmannshotellet. Most good vibes at this hotel can be traced back to its most valuable asset: The staff. A very special thanks goes to Marthe, who could definitely teach the folks at the nearby Radisson hotel a thing or two. She and her team showed that there’s hope for Norwegian hospitality. Yes, yes y’all and you don’t stop. Y’all definitely proved that.

For the record: Hunting whales is a highly primitive and irresponsible act and should be banned permanently.

Basecamp Spitsbergen
P.O.Box 316
9171 Longyearbyen
Norway

+47-7902-4600

2 comments

  1. Thanks for the review, but especially your comments about whales. Norway and Iceland should be ashamed for their (still) brutal practice of killing whales. And the hospitality industry should be even more ashamed to serve whale meat to visitors. I was on the Hurtigruten at a tourism conference and found whale meat on the buffet. This is shameful, especially when businesses are all about touting their ‘sustainability.’

    Whales are sentient beings. I’ll skip Basecamp Spitsbergen for the time being until they can offer up some other menu options.

    Reply
  2. Hi Arctic Traveler,

    I totally, wholeheartedly, 100 % agree with your comment.
    In all fairness, the following should be noted: The restaurant Kroa is not a part of the Basecamp Spitsbergen company but operated by Steakers Svalbard AS.
    These businesses are merely sharing the same building, although with a connecting door – in chilly Longyearbyen, you don’t always want to take a stroll outside.

    Still, it doesn’t make your comment any less relevant. The tourist industry should not suppy whalers with customers.

    All the best,

    :: hakan ::

    Reply

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