L for Lofoten.
L for Location.
L for Luxury.
L for the Lorentzen’s.
And L for Lynnée…
In Wanderlust, a pre-covid travel store in Vancouver, I was perusing guidebooks on Norway when a young woman, blonde, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and exuding a healthy glow, came up to me. “I see you are planning a trip to Norway? I must tell you to visit Lofoten. I’m from Sweden and my boyfriend and I were in Lofoten this summer—it is one of the most beautiful places in Scandinavia.”
She was right. Lofoten is spectacular, an archipelago of dramatic islands, idyllic fishing villages, rugged mountains, sheltered fjords, sandy bays, surprising museums and international art sculptures.
Lofoten is only 175 kilometres north to south and although we booked six days of accommodation at three unique spots, you could just as easily locate yourself in the centre and stay in one place for the duration of your visit. Somewhere near Leknes, the largest town on Lofoten with about 3,500 people.
In the labyrinth of online searching for “best” and a myriad of other synonyms before “places to stay on Lofoten,” fate opened my gaze to a contemporary oceanfront B&B.
As the only property on the tip of the peninsula we enjoy spectacular uninterrupted views of the ocean horizon. There is no finer place to see the midnight sun or northern lights. Only 30 minutes from Leknes airport, Ramberg is on the ocean side of the island in the heart of West Lofoten—the most beautiful and photographed part of Lofoten. It is the ideal place from which to explore the islands. A warm welcome in an extraordinary setting awaits you. A delicious breakfast is included.
Staying at a B&B feels limiting to some people. You don’t have your own space. You can’t do your own cooking. You don’t like chitchatting with hosts. Concerns such as these were dispelled by an early email from Lynnée.
Elvis Presleys Vei 33, 8380 Ramberg.
“If you get to the beach you have gone too far. Drive to the end of the road where the road takes off to the right – there is a street sign for Elvis Presleys Vei. You can see the house from there. I am the last house on the road.
This is my island.
Ramberg Beach. Ramberg is famous for its mile-long white sand beach – a beautiful walk or if you are into cold water swimming, this is the place.
Skagen Beach. Another white sand beach popular with surfers. A five minute drive from the house. Here you will find a water sports centre. They have just changed ownership but you can assume they will continue to rent wetsuits and surfboards and stand up paddle and other activities. It was great before – if anything it will be even better. I will keep you informed.
Ytresand beach – another gorgeous white sand beach popular with bird watchers. 10 minutes drive from the house and a nice long walk on the beach.
You can book a fishing trip with a local fisherman. I can help you arrange this.
Glass Blower at Vikten. This is a magical place – Vikten feels like Big Sur in places – wind, waves and stone formations. Vikten is the location of the famous Glasshytta (glass house). Here you can buy hand blown glass. I will show you when you are here, but it is about a 20 minute drive from the house http://glasshyttavikten.no/english/
There is a hiking trail just outside the house. You can walk along the shoreline from my house to Skagen beach and beyond. It’s a beautiful walk in the evening sun.
Ramberg has a cafe in a historic house and a very nice restaurant on the beach, Ramberg Gjestegard/Guesthouse..
Arriving muddied from a hike and unbathed having spent the previous night, my birthday, in a Sami-styled tent, we must have caused Lynnée and her husband Jan, who was outside tending to home repairs, to wonder about three days of us. “Do you need to do laundry?” A logical question Lynnée graciously asked, followed with a lesson on how to use her Miele washing machine.
How does an American woman who was born in Madison, Wisconsin, raised in Europe and lived mostly in New York, find herself in the tundra of Lofoten on the edge of the Norwegian Sea hosting guests from all over the world for 10 days a month during tourist season?
Over the course of three summers in the late 90s, Lynnée travelled to Norway to study Scandinavian art, architecture and design at the University of Oslo. After living for a time in Paris, she returned to Norway on an artist’s visa where she met and married Jan Lorentzen, a determined outdoorsman who grew up in Oslo, earned MBAs from both the Business School in Oslo and the University of Wisconsin/Madison and kayaked, solo, the entire 2,000 miles of Norwegian coastline from Sweden to the Russian border. The couple settled in Oslo while searching for the ideal oceanfront on which to build a retirement home. Lynnée described discovering this incredible property, turning the corner coming south on the E10 toward Ramberg and viewing in front of her a spectacular jut of land, knowing immediately, “this is it, this is where we need to be.” Every time Magellan and I returned “home” in our rental car, I could see why she fell in love with this stretch of tundra, kampen and rocky granite leading to a lighthouse. Amassing parcels of land, Lynnée, a self-taught interior designer, and Jan designed their perfect house, which took a year to build and was completed in 2014.
Unlike most B&Bs we’ve stayed at where breakfast is a set menu at a set time, Lynnée asked us what we’d like to have and when, accommodating our early rise and my preference for the savoury. Which was her homemade bread topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese and avocado with fresh berries on the side and copious cups of excellent coffee enjoyed over wide-spreading conversations. What to see and do locally, naturally. Lynnée works in the tourist office so she’s a superb source of information. The oil industry where her first husband worked, Magellan spent his career and my company helped engineers and accountants communicate their companies’ stories. Canada, which she knew a lot about having been a friend of the writer Christina McCall Newman. Food; without her, we would not have known about Anita’s.
At Sakrisoy you will see a collections of mustard yellow buildings on your right called Anitas Sjomat / Seafood. This is a great place to have lunch or dinner or at least stop and photograph the scenery She is famous for her prize-winning fish burgers and fish soup in a spectacular setting. When the King and Queen visit Lofoten, which they do often, they always have lunch at Anitas.
(One rainy night we heated Anita’s fish soup and ate in.) Art. Jan’s sister is a famous Norwegian painter and Lynnée provided details on the outdoor sculptures that appear throughout the five main islands of Lofoten. The visual talisman that catapults me back to this B&B is two lino/silkscreens by Angela Harding, an artist from Rutland, England, etched in black-and-white and bordered by a mat of verdigris green perfectly complementing the light mint Lynnée selected for wall colour and linen drapery. One is a pair of curlews, the other a Great Northern Diver. “Between five and ten of the Great Northern Divers overwinter here, feeding in the bay outside the kitchen window before their spring migration to Greenland,” Lynnée explained when I emailed her about them. Books. From their library one evening I came upon this by William Pitt Root, poetry I feel expresses Lofoten.
see how these reefs admit and shed what washes over them
resisting and absorbing in on stance, the myriad approaches
of the sea
and how carelessly the simple water fondles, shocks
and undermines the fundamental granite
touch by touch.
And “The Face of Ocean” by Rasma Haidr.
We are deep mystery
We are known to no one.
We contain a multitude of contradictions
Woven into one
As the ocean is one…
I don’t know about you, but I was curious about what it’s like to live here during the winter. At latitude 68º when daylight dwindles to total darkness around December 6 and the blackout continues for a month before daylight slowly clocks its return. Picture this—on winter days, Lynnée and Jan wear headlamps outside. “Inside we have high-lux, high-CRI, colour-corrected lighting throughout, which turns the kitchen into a SAD lightbox on winter mornings. In the evening we dim the lights and burn lots of candles,” says Lynnée.
But winter has a majesty you can see in Lynnée’s Instagram photos, veils of luminous teal green swizzling In the black of the night sky. Before we left Vancouver, Magellan googled professionals photographing the aurora borealis from within walking distance of the B&B. However, cloud cover, light rain and a low KP index joined forces all three nights to keep us under our twin duvets. (With Lynnée’s guidance, we purchased the same in Oslo. Highly recommended if you want a better sleep.)
The village of Ramberg has only 350 people. And while Lynnée and Jan return to the mainland and travel internationally, how do private, sophisticated people find soulmates away out here; isn’t it lonely?
Lynnée paused before answering, her words reflecting the lambency of morning light surrounding us in the great room. “Our guests bring their world to us.”
Check out Jan and Lynnée’s B&B here. There you will find a comprehensive guide she has written to exploring Lofoten that’s “exceLLent.” (P.S. Lokaler is Norwegian for “premises.)
To see more of Jan’s adventures click here.
And to see Lynnée’s photos of this sublime part of the world have a look on her Instagram page.
And to see Angela Harding’s artwork (she designed the cover for Raynor Winn’s award-winning book The Salt Path about how Raynor and her husband, homeless after a bad investment, walked the 630-mile South West Coast Path.)