On the island of Hidra you can stay in a tiny cabin and wake up to a grand view.
It began almost as a art stunt, the project initiated by land planner Solveig Egeland, architect Arne Åmland and gallerist Alfred Vaagsvold. In 2008 they received permission to set up three tiny cabins on the pebble beach outside Lista lighthouse. Norwegian singer Helene Bøksle performed at the opening. Thousands of people flocked to the cabins. Several of them stayed overnight in the pink one, Nyperosa. Since then the cabins have migrated to the Oslo fjord and the island of Utsira in the west and Hidra in the south, all in the same pastel colors, like small blotches of bubble gum. In 2013 the elementary school at Hidra took over two of the cottages on a permanent basis, Havsula and Nyperosa. You can sleep in the latter for next to nothing with spectacular views of the North Sea outside the window.
What kind of accomodation do you really need to enjoy a cup of coffee on the stairs? That’s the key question that started the art project, a sentence that hangs on the wall in Havsula. Solveig Egeland, who studied land planning at the University of Ås and is a keen environmentalist, wanted to question what quality of life really means and how we relate to nature when we build houses today. Do we really need a palace on the hillside with a wine cellar, tropical shower and jacuzzi on the terrace? And is it really a good idea to insulate the walls to such a degree that it shuts out nature completely? Isn’t listening to the wind tearing at the roof and rain blowing outside the window all part of the charm? The cabins at Hidra are each four square meters. The walls are solid enough to withstand the strong winds that can blow in from the North Sea, but thin enough to really let you feel nature around you. You can hear the weather outside, but you’re still dry, safe and warm.
The two cottages are discreetly located at Høgåsen, the mountain that rises above the village of Kirkehamn on the island of Hidra outside Flekkefjord. Here you find yourself amidst the cultural remains of a large, German fortress that was built here during World War II. Over 100 Germans were stationed at Hidra, which was part of the Atlantic Wall, a network of fortifications that stretched from the coast of Spain to the coast of Finnmark in Norway.
When we walked up to Høgåsen a couple of days ago, my husband commented how strange it is that so few have discovered Hidra. My father, who has a cottage here with his wife, explained that Hidra is generally to far west for people from Oslo to have discovered it and boat folk usually turn around before passing Lista, which is famous for it’s harsh weather. Thus Hidra is left a little to itself as one of the very last picked fences paradises on the Southern coast of Norway. I can’t imagine a nicer place to visit in the summer, not least because it does feel like a well kept secret.
Here are three other places to visit on the island:
The restaurant is located by the sea at Kirkehamn and is run by husband and wife Hege H. Hansen and Bent Sætre, who have previously worked as chefs at Noma, Bølgen & Moi and Café de France. The building was originally a fish factory that packed the fish before it was shipped to England. Today you can enjoy everything from a four course dinner to a simple church lunch here with a revolving menu based on the best available ingredients. Last time we were here, we ate pollack pulled from the sea outside and wild sheep from the mountains at Hidra.
Skipperhuset bed & breakfast
This cozy b&b is situated in the second white village at Hidra, Rasvåg. Four generations of ship masters lived in the house which is now a small pension run by Grethe Lene and Leif-Nicolay Waage Larsen. The couple will also serve you delicious meals while you stay here. Skipperhuset has seven bedrooms and also rent out a more modern apartment in Kirkehamn.
This small café is run by two local ladies (who, incidentally, are sisters in laws) in a lovely little courtyard garden near Hidra Church. In the storehouse they also run a interior design shop with lots of nice things and you can also buy a wide range of garden plants here. The menu is simple, but entirely home made, consisting of coffee, tea and homemade pastry the day we were there. That was all we needed. And why not take a stroll over to the church to digest the sweets? Hidra church has a spectacular location by the sea and is, with it’s octagonal shape, a real sight in itself.