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“If you have adventure in your heart, this is the place for you.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Basecamp Hotel

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Basecamp Hotel
2.5 of 5 Small Hotel   |   Main street of Svalbard | Boks 316, Longyearbyen 9171, Norway (Formerly Trapper's Hotel)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 4 Longyearbyen B&B and Inns
London
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“If you have adventure in your heart, this is the place for you.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013

This is a dual review, both of the Trapper's Hotel and the snowmobile expedition that they organised for us.

Our experience started when we made a request for a short stay at the Trapper's Lodge coupled with an overnight snowmobile excursion to the ship in the ice. The minimum amount of guests on the Basecamp Spitsbergen excursions is four and at the time we were the only request (for two) for our dates, but they promised to keep an eye out for availability for us. A couple of weeks later, I got an email saying that another couple wanted to do the five day trip, also including a stay at Radio Isfjord and did we want to join that? A few minutes reorganising our flights to Longyearbyen made that a YES and we were all set.

Emails were exchanged with a few of the staff, they were professional and chatty at the same time, letting us know what was going on and what we could expect when we got there. A definite plus for an over-planner like me!

On arrival in Longyearbyen airport, we got the airport transfer bus which was fine and efficient, but as a taxi is under 200NOK, I'd probably go straight for that next time.

We were greeted warmly at the Trapper's Hotel by Camilla and Ingrid who are lovely and an absolute asset to the lodge. They work such long hours and I'm amazed that they manage to keep up such a positive professionalism all the time.

We were quickly settled into our room which is indeed rustic but has such charm that we immediately felt right at home (ok, our house isn't constructed from wood and fur, but hopefully you will see what I mean). We had dinner at Kroa next door, which was hearty and topped off with a very reasonably priced (duty free in Svalbard) bottle of bubbles.

We awoke the next morning to some pretty rubbish weather. As locals said, there was a fresh breeze and snow. Us soft Southerners would call it a blizzard. Go stand in the freezer and put a hair dryer on cold and blast yourself in the face. It was a bit like that. But colder.

We were supposed to set off at 10am and this was put back to mid-day in the hope that the weather would clear a little. This was fine by me - the coward inside me hoped a little that the trip would be called off completely. Camilla kept saying "safety is our first priority" which is absolutely true of the company and when our guide Mikael arrived and said we would make a go of it, I trusted that he knew what he was doing.

As an aside, it is very rare that I trust someone 100% upon first meeting them. However, we were lucky enough to have Basecamp Spitsbergen's head guide, Mikael, as our leader and I instantly felt safe in whatever decision he chose to make. We had a briefing that covered the usual caveats that this sort of trip entails, had lunch in the comfort of the Trapper's breakfast room and soon we were off down to the expedition base to get kitted out.

Outside it was hovering around -20ºC. This is what I wore: wool fleece tights, woollen knee length socks, wool and silk long johns, ski pants, two wool and silk base layers, fleece, ski jacket, liner gloves, wool mittens. These was supplied to us: Wool felt boot liners, BIG boots, two balaclavas (one neopreen, one wool), big leather bike mittens, survival suit and a helmet. It took about 20mins to get into all of that!

We got a 5 minute practice and then set off into the approaching darkness. After about 20mins Mikael stopped to check we were ok. I put another balaclava on as my head was feeling cold and I know that can be dangerous. We huddled like penguins (yes, I know, wrong pole) and the whole group helped me add another layer of warmth. When the wind had dropped a bit we stopped again to check that none of our bits had dropped off.

There was no path to follow. Our lovely guide Mikael followed his GPS, I followed him, my husband followed me. We were joined by a couple that were fabulous. She had bought the trip for her husband's 50th - so whenever things got tough or scary, I just kept on going thinking "Happy Birthday!!".

When you are on an expedition like this, you are only as strong as your weakest member. I think that was me.

All things considered, we made great progress and after a short 4 1/2 hours of heart stopping moments (including dropping down a 100m 45º angled hill in the dark) we arrived at the frozen waters of Tempelfjord.

We stayed on the ship that is frozen in the ice. Had the best cup of tea of my life, which was swiftly followed by Cognac to settle the nerves. We had an amazing three course dinner served by Maaike and Ted who wrap you up in the warmth of their welcome and make the trip that much more worthwhile. When they mentioned they had three dogs onboard, we requested an introduction, bu this was only allowed after everyone was checked for allergies.

My husband ventured out onto the ice with our guide after dinner for some photography. The light is incredible in Svalbard. In the night there is an ethereal blue of the moonlight reflecting on the snow. Sunrises and sunsets last for hours. But most of all that night, I noticed the patience and willingness that Mikael showed after a long day of guiding. Apart from wanting to ensure that my husband didn't end up as a Polar Bear snack, he genuinely was happy to get back outside. He has a passion that no amount of money can buy and was always as excited as us at seeing the light and landscape as if it was for the first time for him too.

After a very comfortable sleep, we woke up the next morning to a cloudless sky. We set off back up into the mountains and back UP the steep bit that we had come down the previous night. I got more scared now that I could see what we had done the night before!! But I did it nonetheless, thanks to the encouragement from our little troupe.

We headed back the way we came and it was brilliant to actually be able to see the landscape this time without the blinding snow. We had a short toilet break in Longyearbyen and then headed up and over the mountains to the south. From this point it was a 800m rolling drop down into the valleys.

Epic fun.

Driving through the valleys we averaged speeds of about 70kph, it was exhilarating! We stopped to say hello to some reindeer. They are a small stout version up here. They root around in the snow looking for lichen to eat.

I got stuck for the first (and only) time this day. I was tired and didn't have the strength to pull the snowmobile around a turn whilst going up a hill. I stopped and Mikael came and rescued me, which was just as well, as I was sitting on the edge of a waterfall.

Being doubled up a hill by a strapping mountain guide is pretty ok too :D.

Around a fjord, over another mountain saddle, across a frozen lake and up onto a ridge for our first sight of our home for the night, Radio Isfjord. It was a stunning view with the wind whipping the snow into a swirling mass across the ground. I reckon if Hell freezes over, it may look a bit like this. But it wasn't hell... it was breathtakingly beautiful.

And then we arrived in the most remote hotel in the world. It was amazing! Having driven for 10 hours to get here made it even more luxurious. Oh, the many many glasses of red wine that they gave us helped. A lot.

We had a three course dinner here that would rival more than one Michelin starred restaurant that I can think of. And breakfast the next day was even better.

The next morning was REALLY windy and the coldest day yet. On the way back, we stopped for a break in Barentsburg. This was a thriving Russian mining town of 2,000 people until there was a fire in the mine in 2006. There are now just 300 people here surviving on a little tourism. It is a very surreal place and I will remember my visit whenever I think I am having a bad day at work.

We made our way back to Longyearbyen via the coastal route and en route our team mate flipped her snowmobile, but she jumped and thankfully was perfectly fine.

We got back to Longyearbyen and headed to Kroa restaurant once more for some lovely food and many many drinks.

Camilla and Ingrid (apologies, ALL the ladies are lovely, but these two really did stand out for me), were as pleased as we were that we enjoyed (and survived!) our expedition. We also met the chef, Jacqui, for the Noorderlicht (ship in the ice) who was coming in for the season and SO excited to be there at last. She really summed up the whole culture of Basecamp Spitsbergen with the genuine passion that all the staff show for their jobs and us guests that are lucky enough to be there.

That night I think I slept more soundly than I ever have.

So how was it driving a snowmobile for the first time?

Absolutely brilliant.

I am not fit - I am a woman that mostly drives a laptop... Was it tough? Yes.

My arms hurt, my neck hurt, but it's amazing how a small dose of stubbornness can get you through these pain inconveniences. The trip that went before us hosted a 75 year old who managed perfectly fine (although I did meet him and he had a lot more cojones than your average 75 year old, I was completely impressed, as a wimpy 40 year old).

All in, we did 302.5km (that last 500m was tough :) ) on snowmobiles around Svalbard. Max temp -16ºC, minimum temp -50ºC with winds gusting up to 35mph. We were the only group to leave town in a blizzard... all 'first timers' but took on the challenge and got paid back tenfold. Drove too fast for comfort and just fast enough to have a rollicking good time (top speeds at 100kph!) Sore body, happy hearts.

Was it worth it? 100% yes.

What I especially loved about the Basecamp Spitsbergen experience is that they don't 'cosset' you. You will be responsible for yourself and communicating your limits.

If you are expecting to be waited on hand and (frozen) foot, this isn't for you.

We were especially lucky to spend our adventure in the company of Mikael. This is not a job for him, this is a way of life and I personally felt very privileged to have shared the adventure with him. He won't fix things for you, but he will show you how to conquer your fears for yourself, which is one of the most valuable thing someone can give you (in my opinion). Having said that, if you really don't want to (or can't) do any part of the driving, that's fine too. But my recommendation is to try it for yourself first.

I'll try anything twice.

Would I do all this again? If you asked me on the day I got back I would have said no... Now I am not so sure. Ask me again tomorrow and I suspect that it will be a big fat YES.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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123 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (22)
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English first
Somerset
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2013

Cute room but very expensive at £250 per night for small bunk beds and half hearted breakfast. Rooms are fun designed but not great tbh..they make you smile when you go in at the styling, but grimace as you leave at the comfort. Staff are superficially friendly and shake your hand with a big smile when you arrive. Don't try to ask them to arrange stuff for you though!

Spitsbergen and Svalbard hotels are way more normal and far better value for morey

Room Tip: Try another hotel tbh
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Driffield, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2013

Stayed here in 2010 for a brief night before heading further north. It wasn't the cheapest hotel but it was definitely worth the money. Its right in the centre of Longyearben and its clean and comfy. Not all of the windows have blinds though so if you haven't adjusted to sleeping in 24hr sunlight then remember a sleeping mask or something. The food is great traditional norwegian or continental food and the staff are always on hand if you need anything.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Uppsala, Sweden
2 reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2013

Wonderful hotel, you don't really want to leave, it feels very much like being home, having to take your shoes off at the entrance. There is this room at the top of the hotel where you can look at the night sky, and have a cognac while you do it (we brought our own just in case). Svalbard is a strange and oddly beautiful place in all its austerity - I really want to go back, early spring this time, even though you don't get the midnight sun. Sure it is a bit expensive, but this is Scandinavia (or almost, anyway) and everything is expensive here (I'm Swedish, so I'm used to it). BUT, it's well worth it! Svalbard, and a place lika Basecamp Trapper's Lodge, is a one off. Go there!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Top Contributor
117 reviews 117 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
117 helpful votes 117 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2013 via mobile

Our accommodation at Basecamp was booked as part of our winter package tour and we couldn't have been more impressed. The lodge has a beautiful interior with lots of items and photographs from the Svalbard region to look at.  I particularly like the custom of having to take off your shoes when you come in to the lodge.  This is what the trappers used to do back in the day and it's nice to see the tradition being kept alive, plus it helps keep the floors clean from snow and ice too!

Our room (number six) was spacious with ensuite, bunk beds and small-ish double bed. It also had a table, a couple of chairs and very well heated. Plenty of room for both of us and our luggage. 

Breakfast was included and the buffet was traditional European with meats and cheeses plus muesli and waffles as well. Once breakfast is finished there is free coffee, tea and biscuits available all day at reception which being below zero degrees outside, was greatly appreciated. Nothing better than a hot cuppa!

Above all, I would have to say that the staff really do make the place, particularly Ingrid. She was always smiling, friendly, helpful and nothing was a problem. I eavesdropped a couple of times when she was checking in other guests and Ingrid is not just "going through the motions". She really does treat each guest as an individual and it is clear that she enjoys her job, a credit to Bascamp. 

The Trappers Lodge really is a fantastic place to stay in Longyearbyen if you want to experience warm hospitality, comfortable accommodation and a true Arctic experience. 

Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
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Indonesia
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2013 via mobile

We stayed there for 2 nights and took their dog sledding tour. The room is unique, comfortable and clean. Although I can't figure out how to climb up to the top bunk bed.

The staff were really nice and tried their best to accommodate our needs. Breakfast was quite good and the hotel is close to shops and Kroa restaurant is just next door.

The dog sledding tour was nice although the guide was only friendly on the day of our tour. She wasn't too keen to interact with us when we saw her the next day. Only downside of our visit was that we weren't lucky enough to see the Northern Lights.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Houston, Texas
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
97 helpful votes 97 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 15, 2012

Quick! Imagine what a luxury arctic themed hotel looks like. Did you imagine wood everything, trophy reindeer antlers and a great view of the arctic sky through a large skylight? If you did, you just imagined the Basecamp trappers hotel.

I stayed at this hotel for two days after arriving in Longyearbyen. The first thing you will notice is that just about everything is made of wood. There is very little metal and no plastic to be found at this hotel. It really does give the arctic outpost vibe to the whole place, especially when accompanied by all the trophy reindeer antlers and stuffed polar bears.

The rooms at the hotel are interesting and perhaps the hotels only stumbling block, literally. Once you find your room (no small task in the labyrinth that is the upstairs area), you will immediately see that one portion of the room is higher than the other and the step up is not inconsequential. Why this is I'm not sure. I can only surmise that the staff at the hotel run bets each night to see how many guests stumble over this step in the dark of night. I use the term "dark" loosely here during the summer as the curtains do not quite block out the midnight sun. At least you won't need a nightlight for the kids. Speaking of which, I had a room with bunk beds in it and, even being a complete moron, I could not for the life of me work out how to get into the top bunk. These facts may only be true for my own room as I've heard there are different configurations in each.

Other than my room being a little funky, overall the hotel was great. The wifi worked without too much issue, breakfast was good if a little on the meat heavy side and the staff were always chipper. Be sure to find the room upstairs with the skylight for a truly fantastic view of the northern lights if they are visible.

Room Tip: Be cautious about rooms with bunk beds or decide which member of your party is the most disposable a...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Basecamp Hotel

Address: Main street of Svalbard | Boks 316, Longyearbyen 9171, Norway (Formerly Trapper's Hotel)
Location: Norway > Svalbard > Spitsbergen > Longyearbyen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 B&Bs / Inns in Longyearbyen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Basecamp Hotel 2.5*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Basecamp Hotel is situated right at the heart of Longyearbyen, among restaurants, pubs, shops and bank. It is absolutely Longyearbyen's most amazing hotel; decorated in traditional trapper's style with driftwood, sealskins, pictures and objects that illustrate the past and current trappers' life in the Arctic. Despite its rusticity, Basecamp Hotel offers high quality accommodation with unique style! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Basecamp Hotel Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

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