European Travel and the Coronavirus
Hotels, guesthouses, and camping
Longyearbyen isn't London (or even Oslo), but the town does have a reasonable choice of accommodation. A few places are open year-round, while some close during the late fall and early winter months.
Hotels and guesthouses. At the upper end of the price scale, the centrally located Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen offers 95 rooms at rates that include breakfast and Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel. Two dozen of the rooms are apartments, which make it easier to save money by picking up drinks and food at the supermarket nearby. (Bring an eyemask; my apartment's curtains let in the midnight sun.)
The 88-room Spitsbergen Hotel is a 5- or 10-minute walk from the shopping district, but it's cozy and attractive with very comfortable guest rooms. Ask for a room at the back, facing the mountain.
White-collar employees of the Great Norwegian Spitsbergen Coal Company lived and dined in the original part of the building from 1947 until 1985. After renovation and expansion, Funken (as it was once known) reopened as a full-service hotel in 2000. The Spitsbergen Hotel is owned by Spitsbergen Travel and managed by the Rica Hotels group of Norway.
Spitsbergen Travel also owns the Spitsbergen Guesthouse, which occupies three buildings that were constructed as miners' dormitories. Depending on your budget, you can stay in a single, double, or triple room with shared showers and WCs, or in a small apartment with private facilities and kitchenette. Each building has a shared guest kitchen and laundry facilities.
Mary-Ann's Polarigg, another guesthouse in former miners' quarters, has 18 rooms with shared facilities and another nine with private bathrooms and kitchenettes. It offers a shared kitchen and TV rooms, and it's open year-round.
Basecamp Trapper's Hotel is operated by a local expedition outfitter. The 15-room hotel is in a converted trapper's lodge near the center of town, and it's open all year. (Basecamp also has several other hotels in Svalbard, including "the world's only ice-bound hotel ship.")
Three kilometers or two miles up the valley in the outlying Nybyen or "New Town" district, you'll find Gjestehuset102. Prices are cheap by Svalbard standards, especially in the unisex dormitory rooms, but you'll want to rent a bicycle from Basecamp Spitsbergen or Poli Arctici to get around.
Longyearbyen Camping is open from June until early September, and it bills itself as "the northernmost full-service campingsite of the world." You can rent a tent, foam pads, and sleeping bags or bring your own. Downside: The campground is near the airport, 3 km or 2 miles from the center of town. Upside for hardy souvenir-hunters: You can earn an "Arctic Naked-bathing Certificate" by stripping and dipping on the campground's beach.
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