I was hosted by Hattvika Lodge during my Lofoten trip. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
From hotels and Airbnbs to campsites and campervans, there are so many places to stay in Lofoten – northern Norway’s adventure mecca.
Now, where to stay in Lofoten will ultimately depend on your interests and how long you’re planning to visit. But if you love seeking out unique accommodations that tell you a story about the place you’re visiting, nothing could be better than staying in a traditional Lofoten rorbu.
But first, what is a rorbu?
In Norwegian, the word means a small house or storage space for rowing. Rorbu were the original homes built for traveling fishermen to stay in throughout the winter while fishing in the Lofoten Islands. They are characterized by their proximity to the ocean, with rorbu extending out along the coastline perched atop poles partially submerged underwater. Hattvika Lodge is a cozy, contemporary example of Lofoten’s rorbu fishing history reimagined for the modern traveler.
But, what makes the Hattvika Lodge rorbu one of the most unique hotels in Lofoten? The fishing village that Hattvika is located in was renovated and restored by husband and wife team Kristian and Guri. For Guri, it’s personal – Hattvika’s property has been in her family for 6 generations and counting – and she and Kristian have committed the Lodge to exemplify the culture, heritage, and spirit of adventure that are signature of the Lofoten area.
There is something special about being able to stay in a hotel that captures the history and energy of a place – I seek them out whenever I can – which is why I had my eyes on Hattvika Lodge for my very first trip to Lofoten.
It ended up being an incredible home base for 4 days in Lofoten, and a beautiful place to celebrate Jacob’s and my anniversary month (we’re keeping the tradition going after last year’s anniversary trip to Belize!).
If you’re looking for an excellent hotel for your visit to the Lofoten Islands, keep reading!
Location: The Island of Ballstad, Lofoten
Lofoten is often regarded as one of the best places to stay in Norway for adventure lovers. Its prime position high up north in the Arctic Circle makes it ideal for everything from fishing and whale watching to hiking and kayaking. It’s what attracted me to Lofoten after a 10-day road trip around southern Norway! Jacob and I spent our last anniversary in the humid Caribbean jungle, so I guess you could say we wanted a bit of a polar opposite experience this time around 🙂
Hattvika is located in Ballstad, just about midway down the Lofoten archipelago. Ballstad is a small island just south of Leknes and home to one of the region’s largest continuously active fishing villages. You will need a rental car and should plan for around 15 minutes from the Leknes Airport or just shy of 4 hours from the Harstad/Narvik Airport in Evenes, which is how we arrived. To quickly look at rental car options, you can use this link for the Leknes Airport and use this link for the Harstad/Narvik Airport.
If you look at Lofoten on Google Maps, you might think this region is small. In reality, it’ll take you around 4 hours to drive the full stretch from north to south, winding through islands and across bridges as you pass some of the most dramatic scenery Norway has to offer.
Once you arrive at Hattvika, you’ll find you are within an hour’s drive of some of Lofoten’s best hikes, viewpoints, and attractions, making this one of the best Lofoten Islands hotels for maximizing your time!
In the immediate area, you can kayak and hike as well as walk to a handful of restaurants and a small grocery store. Just 15 minutes away by car, Leknes offers a wider variety of restaurants, groceries, gas stations, and a Vinmonopolet (where you can buy beer, wine, etc). Within an hour or so, you can reach Nusfjord, Reinebringen, and Henningsvær.
The Hattvika Lodge Property: Generations of History in the Most Peaceful Fishing Harbor
Hattvika Lodge started welcoming guests in 2017, but the rorbu within the Hattvika property date back as far as the late 1800s.
With Guri’s longstanding connection to the Ballstad area, there are lots of small but significant nods to the inspiration behind Hattvika, from the names of the cabins themselves to the ingredients painstakingly prepared in the onsite restaurant, to the local Lofoten products and activities available to guests throughout their stay.
Beyond this, what I loved about the property is the peaceful calm you experience thanks to its prime location in Ballstad (apart from the occasional skal! coming from neighboring restaurants across the harbor every once in a while in the evenings).
During the day, you can watch as local fishermen pass through the active harbor, and admire the work done in the historic Moller’s Factory located opposite the hotel. If you haven’t heard of Moller’s, it’s a famous producer of cod liver oil – a signature export of Norway. To honor the Moller’s origin story, Kristian and Guri added a Moller’s Tran Taste Depot to the Hattvika Lodge so guests can sample cod liver oil (tran) and other locally produced products.
Hattvika Lodge invites guests to treat the property like a home base for their next great adventure, and they do an awesome job of both providing onsite activities and guides as well as partnering with local activity providers (depending on the season) to help make your Arctic explorer dreams come to life.
During my stay, I was SO excited to cross Arctic kayaking off my adventure list, and I had an awesome time learning how with my knowledgeable Hattvika guide, Sam!
Outfitted in special all-weather gear, we set off in our kayaks straight from Hattvika’s dock, and explored the area around Ballstad while taking in the incredible views and signature Lofotonian weather changes. An adventure I’ll never forget – and one that my shoulders felt for a couple of days afterwards 🙂!
Outdoor Adventures You Can Experience from Hattvika:
- Sea kayaking
- Mountain biking
- Stand-up paddleboarding
- Northern lights chasing
- Multi-day expeditions in the arctic
- I get the sense that Hattvika is always adding new adventures to its arsenal as the seasons change, so you can find the most up-to-date list of available activities at Hattvika Lodge on their site.
If you’re in the mood for a more relaxing adventure, Hattvika Lodge also offers an onsite sauna and wood-fired hot tub for guests (based on availability and with possible additional fees to reserve your privacy).
The Hattvika Lodge Rorbu & Cabins: Tradition-Meets-Contemporary
It’s the rooms that bring Hattvika Lodge’s story to life! At Hattvika, you’ll find a series of original rorbu along with new cabins designed to provide a cozy, contemporary-meets-traditional home base for travelers.
While Hattvika’s new Hillside Cabins (added in 2020 – pictured top right) are my personal design aesthetic – I am a sucker for a sleek cabin getaway – I was so happy to be able to experience the authenticity that only a Lofoten rorbu can provide. I stayed in Strømøybua #2 (pictured top left), a remodeled fisherman’s cottage with 2 bedrooms, a modern bathroom with heated floors, a private patio, a full kitchen, and direct waterfront access. Being able to cook my own dinners after long days hiking and enjoy the last moments of sun (which didn’t set until 10:30 pm as of my visit in May!) out on the patio with the soothing sounds of the water below was one of the best parts of the entire experience for me. Truly a home away from home.
Like my trusty Strømøybua #2 cabin, all Hattvika rorbu are named after fishermen that used to live or work there. Each rorbu is unique with varying sizes, amenities, and capacities, but all cabins are equipped with free WiFi.
Hattvika Lodge Room Types:
Food and Drink at Hattvika Lodge
Hattvika Lodge’s onsite restaurant is FANGST, an upscale but approachable sea-to-table restaurant focusing on bringing local Lofoten ingredients, flavors, and concepts to the plate.
Menus are seasonal and sustainably-minded while generally focusing on 4 main presentations, served as 3- or 6-course tastings:
- Sea(weed) – a meal inspired by the sea
- Land – a meal inspired by Lofoten agriculture
- Plant – a vegetarian-friendly Lofoten meal
- FANGST – a well rounded land & sea meal
While I am always excited to go to fine dining concept restaurants for the experience, I don’t often leave feeling satisfied. You know what I mean? Usually, the portion size or the abstract approach to cuisine leaves me wanting more (food? answers? free bread?). In fact, I went into this meal at FANGST trying to pre-order a cheese plate to stave any anticipated hunger pangs!!
I am so glad our waiter told us to hold off and decide after eating our main course. Jacob and I opted for the Sea and Plant tastings, and I could go on and on about all the ways our minds were blown. The cheese plate was long forgotten once the generous portions of halibut and braised celery root hit the table, accompanied by the most unbelievable preparations of potatoes and fennel. Our chefs, Kevin and Victor, had a particularly infectious excitement about the flavors they were coaxing out of even the most humble vegetables.
I left this meal feeling so satisfied, as well as so appreciative of the innovative food scene in Lofoten. I highly recommend making a reservation to eat here, even if you aren’t staying at Hattvika Lodge during your trip to the Lofoten Islands.
Outside of FANGST, all rorbu are equipped with kitchens so you can cook your own meals throughout your stay! If you stay in the newly added hillside cabins, which don’t have kitchens, complimentary breakfast is included in the FANGST restaurant in the mornings.
Tips to Know Before You Go
1. HOW TO GET AROUND IN THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS
To best experience all the incredible adventures that await in Lofoten, you’ll need to rent a car. Parking is free and available to all guests at Hattvika!
To get to Hattvika Lodge, you’ll most likely be flying into the Harstad/Narvik Airport (3.5 – 4 hour drive), the Bodø Airport (3-hour ferry plus 1-hour drive), or the Leknes Airport (15-min drive, but generally less frequent / less affordable flights).
We flew into Harstad/Narvik and found the drive down to Ballstad to be absolutely gorgeous!
Haven’t rented a car for your trip yet? Use this link to compare pricing and availability at the Harstad/Narvik Airport on Kayak. Use this link to compare pricing and availability in Bodø, and use this link if you’re arriving into Leknes.
2. WHAT IS THERE TO DO IN BALLSTAD AND IN LOFOTEN?
Some of the best things to do in the Lofoten Islands include:
- Go hiking! From the famous Reinebringen hike to lesser-known gems like the mountains near Hattvika, every Lofoten hike is bound to make your jaw drop.
- If visiting in the winter, go skiing or join a ski tour!
- Go sea kayaking with a guide
- Take a surfing class or simply admire the surfers as they carve Arctic waves
- Sample Moller’s cod oil and enjoy the soft sounds of an active fishing harbor just steps from your room
- Spend a day exploring Henningsvaer – a hip town in Lofoten where you’ll find the best concentration of boutiques and cafes
- Chase the Northern Lights or the midnight sun (seasonal), obviously!
3. WHO IS HATTVIKA LODGE FOR?
Hattvika Lodge feels right for honeymooners, couples, and active families. It can be romantic (especially in Northern Lights season!) but also adventurous and exciting, and the remoteness of the hotel truly makes the stay feel like an experience.
It’s also best for travelers with some time to spend in Lofoten. The weather is volatile here and having an extra buffer day in case plans need to change will help you ensure you get the most out of your long journey to the Arctic! I stayed in Lofoten for 4 nights and while I wish I could have stayed even longer, I think it was a good amount to do a ton of exploration during my first visit.
4. VISITING LOFOTEN FOR WORK?
If you happened to find yourself in Lofoten for work or were considering spending some time working remotely from Lofoten, Hattvika Lodge has good WiFi both in the rooms and in the onsite restaurant. I forgot to test the WiFi during my stay, but I found it to be fast enough for video calls, Netflix streaming, and light work (emails, writing) in the mornings.