Skip to main content

Norway’s Manshausen Island Resort is a Minimalist Retreat Founded by a Real-Life Explorer

Norway's Manshausen Island Resort
Borge Ousland Photo

In your early twenties, vacation means crowds, loud music, bright colors, and even brighter sunburns. But as you get deeper into adulthood, something shifts. You start to crave space over socializing, restful quiet over fast-paced excitement. Moreover, you grow a little more discerning about the digs you’ll be inhabiting. You want more than just a place to crash — you want a space that inspires your mind and nurtures your soul in the same way as your natural surroundings do.

When you want a getaway in every sense of the word, look no further than the sea cabins at Manshausen Island. The setting: a series of modern minimalist bungalows perched in natural outcroppings in the rocky terrain or along the island’s 15th-century stone jetty. The location: a 55-acre former trading post in Norway’s remote Steigen Archipelago, just south of the Lofoten Island chain. Some people might balk at the nearly 20-hour car/train/ferry journey required to reach the island from Oslo; those people are welcome to spend their vacation at a suburban waterpark.

Related Videos

Founded by celebrated polar explorer Børge Ousland, the resort’s lodging is designed by Norwegian architect Snorre Stinessen, who won several architectural honors for how his design of these functional modular spaces heightens people’s connection with their natural environment. Cantilevered over the island’s natural topography, Manshausen’s sea cabins feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows oriented for optimal viewing as well as privacy. With their natural larch wood interiors and Corian kitchens and bathrooms, the cabins have a light, airy atmosphere that adds to the feeling of floating amid the ethereal landscape. Visitors enjoy the incomparable experience of falling asleep in the glow of the Northern Lights and enjoying their morning coffee while watching gigantic sea eagles wheel against the sky.

Given its history as a fishing port, Manshausen Island is the perfect place to seek calm with the help of a boat and a line. The island is surrounded by white sand beaches composed of the dust from the coral reefs of West Fjord. The island’s rocky hills offer hikes from easy to strenuous, all offering spectacular views as a reward. The truly intrepid can venture out to climb the island’s red granite cliff faces, explore Resshola, the “troll cave,” down to its 140m depth, or brave the cold waters of the West Fjord for a diving expedition.

Since even low-key adventures in these northerly climates are demanding on the body and mind, you’ll be well served by a visit to Manshausen’s open-air wooden hot tub and sauna. If you’re feeling extra hardy, you can counteract the soporific effect of the heat with a bracing dash into the resort’s salt-water dam. Bring your heart rate back down again with a late-night chill sesh in Manshausen’s main house library, where you can enjoy a drink from the in-house bar, books from Børge Ousland’s personal collection, and views of the night sky from the lofty glass ceiling.

Manshausen Island resort was designed to be a place for visitors to explore the harmony between themselves and nature. Whether you spend your visit basking in the island’s pristine natural surroundings, or sitting in silence before the ever-shifting vista outside your cabin window, each moment offers a new encounter with the world, and a new understanding of yourself as someone in it.

Editors' Recommendations

This Scottsdale resort is the perfect golf trip getaway spot if you hate crowds
Escape into the beauty of the Sonoran Desert with The Boulders
The Waterfall at The Boulders Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Hidden on the far north end of Scottsdale, AZ, The Boulders Resort & Spa may not be ideal for travelers who are primarily coming to Phoenix and Scottsdale to eat, drink, and be merry in the region’s hottest and trendiest urban neighborhoods. If you’re looking for a hotel that takes you to the center of the action, you should probably look elsewhere.

However, if you specifically want a resort that lets you escape the stressors of 21st-century life and wander into one of North America’s most spectacularly scenic deserts, it’s hard to think of a better place for your next great escape than this Arizona resort.
The lay of the land

Read more
The most beautiful bars in the U.S. (for those extra Instagram-worthy drink photos)
Some bars are so beautiful we can't help but talk them up. Here are the 10 prettiest bars in all the land
The Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland has one of the largest selections of rare whiskeys in the nation.

With all respect to dives, haunts, and lounges, there's something to be said for a beautiful bar. The most attractive ones are feats of bar design and places we not only want to imbibe in, but ones where we stare in awe at the many comforting details. With so many great options, deciding on the most beautiful bars in America was not easy.

What separates the elites from the rest? Well, the best bars in America wow us with a combination of outstanding drinks and remarkable service. They tend to excel at those things and offer a certain ambience you just can't find anywhere else. From the architectural details of an old, perfectly maintained structure to brilliant design approaches, these places sing — visually, anyway.

Read more
The 11 best podcasts for long road trips in 2023
Make your drive better with these great podcasts for road trips

Spring is nearly here, which means it's time to start thinking about the great American road trip. Whether you're planning to venture from coast to coast or just a few towns over, you're going to want some quality content to listen to. Enter the podcast, the road trip's best friend.

This is not to say you shouldn't embrace the sounds of the road. Nor should you avoid your fellow passengers or overlook that special quiet you get when you're driving an empty road during the wee hours. But at some point along the way, you might want a little sonic pick me up. That's where the road trip podcast really comes in handy, an audio copilot that will keep your brain running while the odometer ticks away.

Read more