This June, HI Bergen Hostel Montana is finally welcoming guests again after a major renovation and we are very excited! We’ve asked Amarilis Coelho, Deputy Manager, to talk to us about the hostel and the project.
Tell us a bit about this renovation. What is the biggest improvement from this renovation?
A building with over 50 rooms has been totally remodelled with improved infrastructure and modern equipment, concluding the first part of our three-step rehabilitation plan!
The biggest news is that now every room, including the shared dorms, have a private bathroom ensuite. Our quadruple, triple, twin and single rooms have brand new foldable Pullman beds; and for the first time in Montana’s history, we’re offering double rooms with queen beds as an option for our guests. We’ve also installed more access points and outlets in the rooms.
Our dedication to creating an affordable, friendly and welcoming environment over the years, has allowed us to build quite the fan base, and much of our guest are returning guests and referrals from those who have had outstanding travel experiences with us. This renovation will make even more accessible for different types of travellers by offering a nice combination between cost-effectiveness and comfort, added to the hostelling experience of bringing people together: our main mission!
What was the most challenging part of this renovation?
The plan was to conclude the three steps of our rehabilitation plan at once, but the original project has to be limited due to financial issues. Nevertheless, the most challenging part was the uncertainty of not knowing how the pandemic situation would be in Norway – and in the world – on our planned opening date, in June 2021. We started Montana’s renovation in August 2020, after a long closing period due to Covid-19. The rehabilitation project had been established and carefully prepared quite in advance, but we could not say if we would be able to open at all, nor if any guests would be able to arrive in Bergen.
Another challenge was for me to get training as a Deputy Manager at a time when the hostel was closed! I’m from Brazil and I came back for this job. I spent a year at the hostel in 2019 conducting a Sustainability project in partnership between HI Norway and HI Hostel Brasil and I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to come back to this hostel that I love.
Fortunately, we managed to make a good job and get through these obstacles. HI Bergen Hostel Montana is open and running since 10 June 2021.
What can guests expect when staying at HI Bergen Montana hostel?
Montana is situated up the hillside of Mount Ulriken – the highest of the seven mountains in Bergen – surrounded by nature, beautiful landscapes, and different hiking trails, making the perfect starting point to enjoy Bergen and the Fjords; but this is only one of the things that make us special.
What we really thrive on is the opportunity to use cultural exchange to make the world a smaller place. More than a provider of beds, we are an environmentally responsible spot where travellers can share experiences, discover new cultures, and gather with the local community.
To carry out our mission, we have adapted our hostel to the HI Quality & Sustainability management system and created a social volunteer program where our international volunteers organise free daily activities such as hikes, games, sightseeing, music – or just lots of friendly talking during our daily ‘Coffee and Cookies’ – all in the name of bringing people together!
The guests establish a deep and personal connection with the volunteers, transforming the whole Bergen experience into something extremely meaningful, valuable, and unforgettable for all of them.
What are your top things to do while in Bergen, that are free or worth paying for?
As European City of Culture situated by the sea and surrounded by mountains and the fjords; Bergen is an ideal combination of nature, history and unique experiences the whole year round.
The city has different attractions suitable for all types of travellers, including parks, museums and art galleries. Along the historic harbour you will find the famous “Bryggen” with its charming wooden buildings listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The compact city centre is perfect for walks, but rich in history and culture at the same time, with many bars, restaurants, and Bergen’s famous Fish Market.
If you are more into nature and landscapes, hiking on the seven mountains surrounding Bergen is an open invitation for a richly contrasting scenery.
Located between Sognefjord in the north and Hardangerfjord in the south, Bergen is known as the heart of the Norwegian Fjords. A large variety of fjords cruises starts from the city, making it a great destination for those who want to explore one of the biggest attractions in Scandinavia. The hostel reception team and volunteers always have great advice and a programme for you to join in!
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