Stavanger is an inspiring city – vibrant, colorful, traditional and full of young travelers and backpackers. Morten Vestvik offers them a welcoming place to stay in HI Stavanger hostel St.Svithun after being inspired by many Norwegian hostels. Get to know his story!
”I started working after I have lived in Sweden for 4 years. I was going to be an airtrafic controller. But at the end of my education I got problems with my ears and I couldn’t finish the degree because they had strict rules about seeing and hearing. But I also used to work in hotels and a friend of mine said there was an opening. But back then it was only a hotel. So 7 years ago I came up with an idea of something different and I was thinking about a concept of Ryanair – they sell the cheap tickets but you have to pay extra for every additional service. Suddenly we realized that what we were considering here was a hostel. So I called the Norway hostelling and they were excited about the idea since they were looking for a hostel in Stavanger.
However, I did not know what exactly I was going for so I started traveling around Norway to visit the hostels and that’s where I fell in love with the concept of hostels and the organization.
About the hostel
We have 57 beds here but we can have more due to the system to transfer guests to the empty hotel rooms. The place here is different than other places, it is hotel, hostel and the hospital in the same building. It is not so easy to get in touch with the guests like in small hostels; they can easily interact with the guests, get to know them and the guests keep returning to the same place.
Guests do not react much to the fact that it is a hospital, they can always see it clearly on a website while booking. But then again, there are always people who book without reading and they can be a bit confused.
In the hotel instead of the hospital?
The concept, surprising for many, is that if you get sick, injured or you wait for an operation in Scandinavian countries, you get the free accommodation in a hotel. It is very beneficial for the state – it actually costs 1/3 of the price compared to the stay at the hospital and also the patients are way more comfortable this way. However, there are some rules about the nature of your disease or injury – you must to be able to move on your own and you must not have a transmittable disease. The great part of hotel accommodation is actually mothers with the newborn babies – The whole first floor is for newborn babies, after they are born, they get to stay 3 days with mother and father in a hotel.
Perks of managing a hostel
The best thing here is the contact with people – helping them, talking to them hear their stories, seeing excitement in their eyes as they return from the Preikestolen or – for instance – a Justin Bieber concert last week. Even though I don’t get to know them as much as I would want, I get a little bit of it.
Most of the day I am the office, but I am not the kind of person who could sit I the office the whole day, I need to go out and meet the guests. I believe this is how you make experiences.
Guests of Stavanger hostel St.Svithun
We have all kinds of guests here – summer season lasts only 2 months and then there are mostly business people. Many of them book a hostel by mistake because they didn’t read the website properly – and then they like our concept so sometimes we see them booking again!
During the summer 99% of people stay here because they want to go to – or are returning from – Preikestolen, Kjerag and Trolltunga. Additionally, the American people see to find their ancestors because almost everyone from North Dakota and Minnesota originates from Norway so they come to visits the museums to search the books and files to find out about their history and ancestors. There is a database that says also for what reason they have moved to America and so on.
So – on a daily basis, we meet inspiring people, try to connect with them and learn their stories and care for their experience.”
How about you? Did you get to visit Preikestolen yet? Book your stay here.