Checking In: Funken Lodge, Svalbard

Svalbard feels like a place taken out from time and room. Ringed by looming glaciers, the archipelago ordeals long hrs of daylight – or darkness – and temperatures can plummet reduce than −50°F. Simply contacting it ‘otherworldy’ minimizes how central polar landscapes are to human survival. Possibly it is far more exact to contact it the Earth’s frozen heart rather.

Even now, it does not feel rather true to be in this article. I’ve been daydreaming about Svalbard considering the fact that looking at Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights (printed as The Golden Compass in the US) almost two decades ago. Published in 1995, the creator will have to have frequented when the tourism industry was in its infancy in this article. But his depiction rings accurate these days that of an industrial outpost in the middle of the wild and stark wilderness.

I am being at Funken Lodge in Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s principal town. It was after a hub of the coal mining sector and it however retains the sensation of an industrial city nowadays, with mining smoke stacks dotted all around the landscape, half-buried less than snow. In recent years even though, quite a few of the mines have shut and there is an escalating reliance on tourism and the scientific investigation group.

Like Longyearbyen, Funken Lodge has a shared heritage with the coal mining field. Built at the foot of the now-closed Mine 2, Funken was the place a great deal of administrative staff members when lived. It afterwards grew to become a social hub for meals, Xmas functions and other social functions for the personnel. Hurtigruten Svalbard AS, a tourism operator specializing in trips to Svalbard, acquired the setting up in 1993 and renovated it in 2017 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of its opening. Pictures of miners, previous maps and primary newspaper clippings now grace the walls.

The resort

For 8 months of the year, arriving into Funken Lodge is a welcome respite from the snow and polar air. The entrance is eliminated from the upstairs reception, allowing for area to  disrobe from your various layers of outerwear and, most importantly, swap out your sneakers.

Like almost everywhere in Svalbard (excluding the outlets), you are going to be requested to take away your sneakers when moving into a creating. This harks again to when coal-miners had been demanded to depart their footwear at the door to protect against black dust from having just about everywhere. The resort will deliver you with standard slippers or you can provide your own. As a consequence you quickly come to feel informal, cozy and at household. 

There is a smaller but very well-equipped health club on website – like a bicycle, weights and treadmill – which is common with the outdoorsy varieties this place invariably attracts. There’s also a sauna which was sadly out of order when I frequented but would be a welcome action immediately after a extended working day in the freezing cold. 

The vibe

Practically anything in the hotel has been developed with consolation in head. There are four independent lounge parts to pick from. Some have soft and plush sofas to rest with a drink from the gleaming cocktail bar (Norwegian lagers and IPAs are also on tap). Other individuals have a library of Arctic-themed literature and tables and chairs with cleanse, nominal lines, ideal for receiving some perform finished. The no-shoes plan will make it a single of the most calming lodge typical locations I have at any time been to, sensation extra like one huge, impeccably built property than a regular lodge lounge. I was also reliably educated that an Arctic fox is spotted almost every day from the bar spot but I was not fortunate more than enough to see it this time all around.

The bedroom at Funken Lodge is cozy and as an extra bonus can arrive with a check out of a glacier © AnneMarie McCarthy

Traveling to in the summer season, the enormous, panoramic windows let unlimited gentle in, brightening the muted Scandinavian shade palette. Small-hanging light-weight fixtures with a heat glow will unquestionably build an intimate coziness when the polar nights get there in November. 

The consolation amount is elevated additional in the guestroom with a mini mountain of feathery pillows and super gentle bedding. With the improved hrs of daylight from a polar summertime, you want some help having your full eight hrs of slumber. When I visited, it was the great smooth landing just after a very long day on the snowmobile. It was so comfortable I want I could transportation the total mattress back again house with me.

The curtains in the home, even though excellent top quality, had been not entire blackout curtains, which seemed an strange oversight when the lodge sees 24 hours of daylight from Might to September, virtually a third of the yr. It may well also be prudent to provide ear plugs in case you have a place off the lounge, like I did, as sounds can journey if people today keep up ingesting in the daylight, even though it in no way felt rowdy.

The crowd 

A single thing you promptly master in Svalbard individuals who come in this article – possibly to are living or visit – have a deep like for this position and come equipped to shell out the utmost amount of time exploring its landscape. Assume adventurous teams of buddies or grownup kids touring with their dad and mom, all dressed in levels of costly activewear. I did not see any little children for the duration of my stay and there are no focused kids’ features, while they are authorized cots are readily available and little ones up to age 9 can stay for totally free if working with an existing bed.

With 88 rooms, tons of outdoor activities to appreciate and lots of lounge space, it is unlikely you will really feel as well crowded while remaining below, even if the lodge is full. 

The cafe

A warming bowl of beef bourguignon followed by a fruity sponge cake © AnneMarie McCarthy

The on-web page Funktionærmessen Cafe is a draw for both readers and locals, particularly for a city where by cuisine is not too higher up the priority record. Specified the place, community elements are not seriously doable so rather the menu focuses on warming comfort meals elegantly styled on the plate. Beef options in various varieties – bourguignon, steak tartare and rib steak are all on the menu – with seafood choices like scallops and cod accessible. The restaurant also has its have wine cellar with a specially extensive variety of champagne. An in-home sommelier is on hand to pair wines for you as very well. Dining selections are restricted in the local area, so people will try to eat mostly at the resort and locals also come to dine so guide ahead to be safe and sound. 

The lodge breakfast is a very good-high-quality buffet and there is a chef on hand to make new omelets. Count on the common bacon, scrambled egg, fruit and yogurt, as well as Norwegian breakfast criteria of rye bread rolls and smoked salmon. For all the great presentation of the food stuff nevertheless, the check out from the restaurant is genuinely the star of the display. Your dining companions might get neglected for a although as your consideration is stolen by the Lars- and Longyear glaciers nearby, particularly as the moving sun bathes them in stark white, golden or often pastel gentle as it moves gradually about the sky. 

Exactly where it’s situated

Sitting atop the city of Longyearbyen, virtually all over the place in the hotel has amazing views of the city beneath, the glaciers earlier mentioned or the sea in the middle. The stroll to the centre of the city will take about 20 minutes but has a couple downward slopes en route  – a pair of crampons for your shoes will make navigation a lot less difficult and a headlight and reflective gear is crucial all through the winter. With the right garments, strolling is doable most of the time, though it can be slow and uncomfortable if you are not employed to icy situations. Alternatively the lodge has numbers for a pair of community taxi operators.

In the spot

The draw of Svalbard is its wild landscape. Likelihood are, you will be using your lodging as a launching point for a greater expedition or a number of shorter excursions. From below you can consider recognizing Arctic animals or making an attempt to location the Northern Lights, which will choose you past Longyearbyen’s city restrictions. Once you leave the city limitations, you are subject to demanding safety regulations and must carry some implies of scaring off a polar bear. Flare guns are important but carrying a rifle is also recommended. Tour operators just take care of this for you but impartial travelers should utilize in progress for a firearms allow in purchase to hire a gun.

Svalbard’s wilderness is attractive but basic safety safeguards are vital when leaving the town limits © AnneMarie McCarthy

For days in city, you will find the exciting Svalbard Museum as nicely as the North Pole Expedition Museum for anyone fascinated by the era of Arctic explorers. If you forget any gear, there are a couple shops with all the things desired to brave the temperatures and charges are usually lessen right here than in the rest of Norway (there is no VAT on Svalbard). Upmarket souvenirs like fragile jewelry or handmade Xmas ornaments can be located in the Lompensenteret buying center but you can also get just about any supplies or trinkets you require – as extended as you really don’t intellect a polar bear printed on it. E book in advance for an night tour at the Svalbard Brewery (429 NOK per individual) or choose some up cans to get household at the local department store. 

What it expenditures

Standard double space costs start out at 2476 NOK / US $254 and can go up to 4956 NOK / US $510. Some one rooms are accessible for more cost-effective the array is concerning 1980 NOK / US $203 to 4100 NOK – US $421.


The lodge has a quite large, accessible bedroom with a large dwelling room and wooden floors as an alternative of carpet for mobility. The entrance is wheelchair accessible and there is an elevator but significantly of the rest of the resort is carpeted. 

How to get to Svalbard

SAS and Norwegian Air run flights from Oslo (some direct, other folks connecting in Tromsø) quite a few instances a week. Many tour operators also run cruises that halt in Svalbard, with numerous connecting to a lot more distant parts of the archipelago.

AnneMarie traveled to Svalbard at the invitation of Volvo Penta. Lonely Planet team members do not take freebies in exchange for optimistic coverage.