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Special Place To Stay: Affordable Heaven in Norway

Beautiful fjord in Vagnes, northern Norway

Norway overflows with natural beauty, doesn’t it? And the traditional houses complement the scenery. So why not stay somewhere really special on your holiday, and enjoy traditional Norwegian beauty inside as well as out? If this interests you, I know a wonderful place that is affordable too.

Stunning Norway, from the bus window!

When searching for places to stay in Norway I gravitated towards Tromso, as we were keen to see the aurora. But I soon began to despair at the cost of accommodation, even through Air BnB. Somehow I stumbled upon Det Rode Huset (The Red House.) What a treasure! Located 24 km outside of Tromso – happily on a on a bus route- this traditional home from the 1880s is a dream come true.

An old photo of Det Rode Huset, Norway

It is a cliche, yes, but this home has been lovingly restored by Sollag Bessesen and her husband, who lived there themselves for many years. Painted & stenciled wooden floors, ceilings, and nooks & crannies meant that looking around the structure of the house was a delight- not to mention the items around the place, like the spinning wheel.

The house was warm and cozy, and there was also underfloor heating in the bathroom/wet room, and the shower was powerful. My hubby Terry still misses it!

The kitchen meant we could save loads of money by making our own meals, and it also gave fantastic opportunities to cook with Norwegian ingredients like delicious, fresh-from-the-sea cod, and reindeer purchased direct from the Sami. In fact, reindeer is now Terry’s favourite meat. (I’ll do an upcoming post just on food.)

Terry made YUM hash with Tromso smoked ham

The cost of renting The Red House for the week was great value- under €700; even less than staying at the hostel type accommodation in Tromso!

Additionally, as we were away from the city lights, we had a better chance of seeing the aurora borealis– this saved us over €120 per person vs doing the cheapest Northern Lights tour/chase. Oh, and see the Lights we did– 6 out of the 7 nights 🙂 That would have cost us around 1,500 if we’d paid to chase each night!
Click to read more about seeing the Lights, & my photos & tips.

Renting a compact car cost apprx €350 when we went in February 2013, but we ended up just using public transport: bus 450, which stopped 40 meters or so from the house several times a weekday. (Less on Saturday, & not at all on Sunday- but with the fjord, hills, snowshoes & a push sled all at the house, who needs to go anywhere? )

You can buy a bus ticket for 1, 2, 4, or 7 days, and from Tromso to Skittlnev Skole (the stop for the house, FYI skole means school) is 3 Zones according to the Tromso transport website, where you can check prices and times. The bus ride is a very enjoyable journey along the fjord, and we never got bored of watching the light change on the snowy mountains, boats go to & fro, and getting wee glimpses of peoples’ lives as we passed their homes.

 So charming: Det Rode Huset, Vagnes, Norway. PS: the boot warmers/dryers are BRILLIANT!

A great value for a family or few friends’ holiday, the house sleeps 5, with a bedroom upstairs and down. The beds are all singles, so do be prepared for that, and if you are very tall they might be a bit small. Still, to see the Northern Lights dancing from your cozy bed– I’d sacrifice a double any day!
I also was a bit gleeful when I saw some places renting snowshoes & sleds when we had use of them for free; more added value!

Sollag has plenty of maps and other tourist info at the cottage, and is very helpful in general- she answered my many emailed questions, and went beyond the call of duty to help us arrange some things. She and her husband were very friendly and kind— and of course that makes sense, when you feel the gentle warmth with which they’ve restored & decorated the house.

Vagnes, Norway

Det Rode Huset is a welcoming, handcrafted gem of a home in a spectacular setting, (surrounded by a few neighboring houses & a small school so you don’t feel too overwhelmed with wildness,) where sea eagles fly and amazing sunrises & sunsets create beautiful shifting colours and light. At night all is calm, and in the winter the Northern Lights may dance. What a wonderful place. Our time at Det Rode Huset couldn’t have been better.

Oh yeah, and in my Norwegian food post I’ll tell you about the fabulous fresh fish you can buy with just a wee walk down the road!

Heaven.

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