Tell us about the design and concept of Hotel Havgrím?
Hotel Havgrím opened in April 2018 as the only high-end boutique hotel in the Faroes. The building itself was built in 1948 as a private residence. Between 1952 and 2013 it was the residence of the Commodore, the highest ranking army official in the Faroes. When the building was sold to the present owners in 2017, it went through a major restoration before it opened as a hotel. The basic concept has been to retain as much as possible of the original design and history of the building, while giving guests the opportunity to stay at a modern seaside hotel with a unique atmosphere.
What makes the hotel so special in your opinion?
There are three main reasons, which stand out: Beauty, Location and Size. The building itself is beautiful and so is the interior decoration with the colour scheme hitting just the right balance of style and elegance while being intrinsically welcoming. The location too is perfect! The hotel sits on the shore of Streymoy Island just north of the harbour in Tórshavn. The North Atlantic Ocean is just outside, which gives every room a sea-view, while the guests are no more than a 10 minutes’ walk from downtown Tórshavn. Size is another factor, which makes Hotel Havgrím unique. With only 14 rooms we are able to give our guests the personal attention that may make their stay with us memorable and special. Size matters, but bigger is not necessarily better.
Tell us more about the Faroe Islands and what makes this destination so unique?
The Faroe Islands have been populated at least since the eighth century when norse settlers replaced the celtic hermit monks, who, as tradition has it, lived on these islands at the start of the viking age. For more than a millenium this archipelago has been quite isolated from the rest of Europe. The isolation has been a blessing in disguise, because it has resulted in a nation with its own cultural identity and language as well as a distinctive food culture. The Faroese people have survived on what the islands and the ocean around have provided. As elsewhere the food culture has its origin in the local environment, but here it has also been shaped by centuries of isolation and people’s need to survive in a harsh and unforgiving climate.
As the wider world seems to have discovered the Faroes on the world map, the islands’ popularity as a travel destination has grown. People from all over the world come here in growing numbers. They come to enjoy the rugged beauty of the landscape, to experience the outdoors and the birdlife, to breath the fresh sea air and lately also to enjoy the emerging food scene. The Faroes Islands have truly been an undiscovered and unspoiled gem hidden in plain view in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Do you think there has been a shift in what people look for in their accommodation?
People are very different and want different things. However, as people get older they seem to appreciate comfort and convenience. So do seasoned travelers, who know what they want. We have been lucky in that respect, because we appear to have found a niche market for what we have to offer.
Where does the inspiration come from for the hotel decor?
Wherever we have been able to preserve the original decor we have done so, eg. the parquet flooring on the second and third floor as well as the original plaster walls in the hall and the dining area. The staircase from the hall to the third floor is also the original one from 1948. When we have had a decision to make concerning the decor, the inspiration has come from the environment around the hotel. From the sea, the shore and the natural colours all around us.
The hotel puts the environment at their forefront, tell us a bit more about how you make the environment your top priority?
From the start when we decided to buy the property and turn it into a hotel, we also decided to use as much of the original decor as possible. As mentioned above we have retained quite a lot and upcycled some other things like the massive wooden doors, which now serve as dining tables. The aim has been and still is to limit waste. Another thing we did was to invest in a geothermal heating system, which in a small way helps reduce carbon emissions thanks to its efficiency.
Do you think it is important to champion local products and craftspeople?
Yes, it is a laudable principle to have and we try to adhere to it as much as possible without compromising quality. If you ever should partake of our breakfast, please make sure that you sample a slice of Faroese lamb sausage and some smoked salmon – local food products of high quality. Equally when we needed custom designed window tables, we found that our local woodworking artist, Joe Cole, was the man for the job. His wooden display boards are also to be found in all the hotel rooms.
Can you tell us any of your favorite highlights in and around the hotel?
Both in and around the hotel I must first mention the view: the view of the sea, the sky and the distinctive Faroese landscape. Ever present is the sound and smell of the ocean with its fresh briny air; you have the feeling of being in the countryside while in fact you are only a short walk from the centre of Tórshavn. Inside the Hotel it is first of all the atmosphere which springs to mind. Everything adds to the atmosphere; the soothing colours and an attention to details being two contributing factors. If you asked me about my favorite room, I would be hard pressed to choose between the breakfast room with its window seats facing the ocean and the suite, which also has an exceptional ocean view.
What do you hope guests expect when they walk into the hotel?
I sincerely hope our guests expect us to do our very best to make them feel welcome. We strive to make the hotel a ‘home away from home’ during their stay in the Faroe Islands. The weather on our beautiful islands is very changeable and we can not promise fair weather, but here at Havgrím Seaside Hotel 1948 our neighbour, The North Atlantic Ocean, can always be relied upon to provide an ocean view no matter what.
What do you think will leave the biggest impression on guests, who visit Hotel Havgrím?
Hard to say. We have had so many different an swers to that question. Needless to say, I think they will love the view, but otherwise it could be a lot of things: the décor, the comfort, the breakfast room, the breakfast buffet (!), or just a very comfortable bed to sleep in. There is no accounting for taste, but I hope our guests will take favorable note of the welcoming atmosphere, we have worked so hard to achieve. My hope is that our friendly staff and thoughtful assistance will leave favorable impressions as well.
To discover more about this splendid seaside hotel, visit Hotel Havgrím’s website.