Basecamp Hotel is an atmospheric homage to the Arctic days of yore – a beautiful driftwood lodge roofed in slate and lined with sealskins, plenty of furs and a rough-and-ready feel, its walls showcasing trophies from the centuries of trapping and whaling activity on Svalbard. The hotel, located in the heart of Longyearbyen, bursts with character and provides a cosy and intimate base, with just 16 rooms. All have spectacular views, as does the Cognac Attic with its stunning glass ceiling. A stay here makes a perfect introduction to the excitements of Svalbard.
There is no restaurant at the hotel, though the on-site Traveller’s Club provides hearty breakfasts – a perfect start to a snowy day – and packed lunches if required for day trips. Longyearbyen’s restaurants are close by for lunch proper, and supper. The best in the small town is Huset, a fabulous value considering the gourmet cuisine on offer and the resourcefulness in sourcing ingredients so far north. Reindeer and seal feature on the menu – local, seasonal and extremely free-range.
The rooms are stylish in their simplicity yet come with quirky touches and souvenirs from old trapping days. The beds are superbly comfortable, cosy and snuggly – ideal for deep slumbers after hours spent in snowy surrounds. Triple rooms feature bunk beds, and all the rooms enjoy private en suites and efficient WiFi, but no televisions, which only adds to the tranquillity.
The Basecamp Hotel is a great base for a series of day trips into Spitsbergen’s wilderness. One of the more interesting experiences allows you to follow the footsteps of the coal miners who were the first inhabitants of Longyearbyen, the town established for the nearby mine. Kit up in a miners’ outfit and descend into the tunnels to discover the seam preserved just as it was when it was closed in the 1960s. Above ground, snowy expanses wait to be explored by dogsled or snowmobile.