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Snow wonders

Norway Home of Skiing

From pristine slopes to spectacular scenery and one of Scandinavia’s best boutique hotels, Norway offers a ski experience like no other

There might be only five million people in Norway, but the country has won more Winter Olympic gold medals than any other in the world. It is a record that shows how essential skiing and winter sports are to Norwegian life. The country boasts a long, snow-sure ski season, well-groomed slopes for skiers of all abilities, modern lift systems and terrain parks. All this is topped with dramatic views of the natural landscape and easy-to-reach resorts offering beautiful places to stay.

The luxurious 31-room Nermo Hotell in the resort of Hafjell, just two hours from Oslo, has been voted Norway’s best boutique ski hotel on three occasions since 2016 and first hosted visitors in the 1860s. “That was really the beginning of hospitality in this family, and it has remained this way ever since,” explains Johannes Nermo, the fifth-generation owner. “We try to focus on hospitality, a personal service and local food. These are three simple – but also very difficult – qualities that we maintain.”

A regular shuttle service takes skiing guests to the nearest lift in the centre of the resort, while the hotel itself is something of a sanctuary, tucked away from the rest. It has Scandinavian pine panelling, an elegant yet cosy lounge with open fire and plush sofas, a sauna and a restaurant that specialises in regional dishes made with locally sourced ingredients – including game that Johannes himself has hunted for the table. It can mean a moose sandwich and a beer from the nearby brewery, or a slice of freshly made apple cake. The hotel also provides takeaway food and lunch vouchers for use at mountain restaurants if guests want to stay on the slopes all day.

The hotel can be hired in its entirety for private events, including weddings, and has recently converted two 300-year-old timber buildings into luxury accommodation. “They have an incredible history, but also every sort of modern amenity you could ever dream of,” says Johannes. “It has been done in a very tasteful way that reflects our history and the history of Norway.”

Nermo’s nearest ski slopes are at family- friendly Hafjell, famous for holding the slalom and giant slalom events at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games. The hotel itself has hosted the British bobsleigh Winter Olympic teams and is just one of the spectacular places to stay featured on Norway Home of Skiing.

Alongside Hafjell, Norway Home of Skiing’s CEO Trevor De Villiers gives praise to a whole range of other Norwegian resorts. Myrkdalen, two hours from Bergen, for instance, remains relatively undiscovered and has “some of the best off-piste and powder snow conditions in the world,” he says. Also in western Norway, Voss caters to all abilities, with skiing in the heart of the fjords, as does Narvik, tucked within the Arctic Circle. Closer to Oslo, there is the mountain village of Beitostølen on the edge of the Jotunheimen National Park, where skiers can just walk to the slopes. Kvitfjell, meanwhile, has world-class runs, being on the Alpine Skiing World Cup circuit. One of the country’s oldest resorts, Geilo, close to the town centre is perfect for exhilarating night skiing, or cross country on 550km of well-marked tracks. Finally, at Norefjell, Oslo’s nearest mountain, skiers can swish down to the lake on what is northern Europe’s highest vertical drop in a ski resort.

From powder snow to safe, uncrowded slopes unequalled elsewhere, Norway is the dream ski destination and ripe for discovery.

www.norwayhomeofskiing.com