In the middle of fjordland Norway, Mundal Hotel is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. This family-owned hotel has creaking stairs, a great turret bed room, a library, a billiards room, a music room, deep leather chairs by the fireplace – and books; not just in the library but everywhere.
View from the turret suite
That’s as it should be. Like Hay-on-Wye, this little village is a member of the International Organisation of Book Towns.
Wherever you go in Fjærland, you’ll find books; indoors and outdoors, along the streets, in barns and in boat sheds. Four kilometres of second-hand and antiquarian books are for sale, mostly on a trust system: take the book you fancy and put money in the tin.
I found a book about old hotels and their ghosts. To my disappointment, Mundal Hotel doesn’t seem to have a resident ghost. Or does it…?
According to the International Organisation of Book Towns,
a Book Town is a small rural town or village in which second-hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated. Most Book Towns have developed in villages of historic interest or of scenic beauty.
Tiny Fjærland has both.
Apart from the quirky hotel, Fjærland offers fabulous water activities on the fjord, hiking – on one of the many glaciers nearby if you like – as well as a hands-on glacier museum. On our first visit in 2000, Ötzi was visiting and my then 12-year-old and I got a close look at the remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age man found in the Alps some 20 years ago.
Disclosure: Nope. We stayed a night in Mundal hotel as part of a family holiday. We stayed in the turret suite even. Cost an arm and a leg. But it was absolutely wonderful.