In the past …
When the steamboat started to go on a regular route on the Sognefjord in the 1840s, hostels and hotels started appearing at the stops. The “steamer” would also gladly stop wherever there was a staging post. The same went for Leikanger. From 1857 boats went on a regular route to Bergen. It was then that the regional boats started in Sogn og Fjordane. The baker Jan G. Olsen, who owned the guesthouse in Leikanger before 1900, had two freight vessels. In a travel guide from 1896 it says “Leikanger 26 miles from Bergen, is a smiling, beautiful beach along the Main Fjord. Lovely place. Neighborhood of baker Olsen.”
Since there was no road connection with Sogndal, the only access was through the fjord. Around 1900, the Olsen Guesthouse changed its name to J. Olsen Hotel. The hotel at that time had 15 beds.
Leikanger Fjord Hotel
The story of Leikanger Fjord Hotel begins in 1913 when Gustav Reinhard Lie was a baker in Bergen, where he met his future wife Cecilie. During some vacations in 1919, they traveled together to Leikanger to greet Cecilie’s family.
Bakery and hotel
Gustav knew there was a baker in the area and he went to salute a colleague and offered to help with the Saturday baking. His name was Jan Grøvåg Olsen, and he was a baker – hotel owner – postmaster w / boat and a widower. These two men became good friends and within a few days Olsen suggested that Gustav buy the property, which consisted of a smaller hotel with a bakery in its basement. The bathing area in front of the hotel was superb with its pier, boathouse – bathhouse and woodshed. Gustav had no funds to buy a hotel and bakery, and the money he had made as a baker disappeared during the bank’s bankruptcy after World War I in 1918.
Around the turn of the year 1919/1920, the old Olsen came one afternoon to Gustav’s lodge in Bergen and reiterated his opinion that Gustav should buy the property in Leikanger. Gustav asked for some time to think about it and sought advice from his master and friend baker Samuelsen. Samuelsen took him to the merchant Giertsen, where they presented the project and discussed bail. The trade came to fruition in the spring of 1920.
A hot start
Around midnight on June 14th, 1920, Gustav set up in the bakery to fire up the oven for the first time, and started baking in order to open shop with steaming fresh bread and cakes at. 09:00.
Cecilie came in the early morning with a bucket containing 2 liters of milk. She would then go to the hotel. There was quite a lot of cleaning up to do before the hotel could start up.
On May 2nd, 1922, Jomar was born with raised flag and a lot of excitement in the family.
The Leikanger Fjord Hotel was now on its way to be a family-run hotel for generations to come.
The years went by with restorations and renovations until 1926. The hotel was in good condition after that time, but still without electric power.
The years went by with restorations and renovations until 1926. Oil lamps were still used for lighting, and a curtain in a guest room was set on fire by a lamp and the hotel burned to the ground.
This was a hard blow for the Lie couple, after all the work they had done. The hosts were young, only 30 years old, and could only roll up their sleeves to start again. New drawings and plans were made and the work started. The building of a new hotel, with 40 beds, was completed in time for the summer season 1928. The regulars returned.
The ritual for the service was to turn on the oven in the warm room before the guests got up, then hot water would be brought up for shaving and washing. No one can really imagine all the work they are avoiding today.
In 1930, electric power came from a new electric plant built at Henjabrui in Hermansverk. It delivered approx. 200 KW without selling it all. Today, the hotel would at times be able to buy all of it. Before the electric plant started, Gustav would use a bat oil lamp as a street light which he hung on a hook on the corner of the store every night.
In the spring of 1937 the road Sogndal – Leikanger was opened. The hotel got its first car in 1936, a 1922 model Willys Overland with plush seats and nice curtains.
Traffic at the hotel increased from year to year with well-known Bergen families coming for 14 days stays during the holidays. The accomodation price at that time was 4.50 kr per adult for a full board stay, and free for the children.
They could write a whole book about everything that happened at the hotel during the war, but we will only focus on the following: For the last 3 years of the war, the hotel served as a base for the intelligence organization EB XU (part of Secret Services) in London. The last week before peace, the Mil. Org. moved its headquarter in the hotel and set a radio transmitter in room 337. Milorg and XU were two separate organizations: Milorg had weapons and was trained to fight the enemy, while XU was responsible for espionage behind enemy lines. The head of the county at the time was Agnar Ulvedal and the second in command was Jomar Lie.
On September 1st, 1946 we took to Oslo and the Hotel Business School in St. Olavsgt. 8, where we also lived. Anne Lise Heining from Bærum was also a student at the school and she and Jomar got engaged before Christmas and both went to a Christmas party in Leikanger. They married on June 12th, 1948.
There’s no place like home
During the first years after the war, the occupants of the hotel were Norwegians who had little opportunities for overseas holidays. All means of transportation, such as boats, cars, trains and planes were taken away during the war or worn down. People who had been lucky enough to avoid getting the cars requisitioned by the occupying power were proud and we felt they almost wanted to take their car up to the room for the night. Otherwise, bicycles were the most prominent means of transportation.
Eventually came Norwegians and Americans who wanted to experience the old country.
The hotel had a relay station inherited from the previous owner, but it was to be used for the mooring of small sailing boats.The hotel bought its first car, a Willys Overland 1922 model (s-558) for 360 kr in Bergen. The next car was an Opel Olympia 1938 model that Gustav brought on a trip to Oslo. A friend of his who had a large company in Oslo needed an Opel as a traveling car, and swapped it with a luxury car, a Chrysler Royal 1937 model (p – 36). The Germans requisitioned it and converted it into a small truck. When the war ended, there was no car to get before Jomar Lie got a purchase license on a used Studebaker 1939 (p-96) in the spring of 1947. This was because the staging post had been turned into a cab station. The following year in 1948, Jomar got a permit on a Plymouth that he used as a cab for 8 years, and drove for 360,000 km. The next cars were a 1955 Mod. Chevrolet Anniversary Model (s-606) (Hotel car), then a Mercedes 220 – 1961 mod. (2-606).
Hard post-war years
The post-war years went well, although rationing was still going on. The renovation after years of a war that had put the hotel in poor condition went on thanks to many good acquaintances in the trade industry, especially in Bergen. A few liters of paint here and there, good butter was traded on the black market. Jomar often painted furniture himself in the rooms in the winter of 1948 – 49.
Anne Lise and Jomar Lie took over the hotel on January 1st, 1955. Cecilie and Gustav were then 60 years old and wanted to retire from the hotel and bakery. Jomar’s brother Oddvin took over the bakery.
Anne-Lise and Jomar gave birth to a son, Jan-Erik in 1955 and a daughter Cecilie in 1949.
On top of having good occupancy in the 1960s essentially thanks to British and Dutch guests, we organised daily lunch groups for the 3 days Fjord Line between Bergen and Oslo. These groups were only people from the U.S.A. and had a cold buffet. Often 2 groups would come at the same time. All guests had full board stays.
We expanded the dining room for the 1960 season.
For the 1962 season, a timber wing was built with 5 rooms w / shower-toilet, and the hotel also got all licensing rights.
There were other development plans as well, but a lack of plot land prevented this until 1972, when the hotel finally acquired the neighboring land.
For the summer season of 1973, an extension in concrete was completed. The extension contained 29 rooms and a combined reception and meeting room.
Jan Erik and Adelheid Lie gave birth to a daughter, Trine Lise in 1992.
In 2020, Unike Hotels will take over the property and hotel operations. More information about Unike Hotels can be found here.