His own island
Out in the archipelago of Steigen, polar explorer Børge Ousland bought his own island, Mannshausen, where he commissioned some unique cabins, just the way he wanted them. These stylish cabins are inspired by a lifelong interest in architecture and some of Norway's other innovative new buildings like Lyngen Lodge and the Juvet Landscape Hotel.
Distinctive buildings in a magnificent landscape
Børge Ousland chose Snorre Stinessen because he is a talented architect with a modern touch. His buildings manage to be separate from nature and still harmonise with it, and these unique buildings look as if they are meant to be here. The cabins are made of solid timber, without a hint of plastic. They are clad in untreated, maintenance-free larch, which will slowly age to a silver-grey hue.
Being in the cabins is like sitting in an HDTV, with floor-to-ceiling windows at the front and sides. From here, the landscape is both beautiful and entertaining. You can lean back and look out over the countless islets and skerries, at the boat traffic, and up over the Steigartindene peaks. In good weather, the jagged mountains of Lofoten are silhouetted in dark blue against the horizon. Who needs TV with views like this?
Function and comfort
Traditional rorbu cabins in Northern Norway can be somewhat on the rustic side. Børge wanted his cabins to be comfortable, with stylish bathrooms, kitchenettes with fridge, cupboard space and an extra bedroom as well as the main room. The furniture is by designers Fjordfiesta. The reception area and dining room are in the main lodge, an old restored Norland house where you can also pre-book dinner. This lodge also has a relaxation lounge upstairs, with a huge, soft Italian designer sofa, panoramic views from the large windows and shelves full of books on exploration and the polar regions.
The wonderful Northern Norwegian summer with 24-hour sun is perfect for children and families. You can swim in a huge, natural pool on the island or go snorkelling in the turquoise waters; drysuits are available for hire if the water's too cold. You can hire aluminium boats for fishing or exploring, or just rent a rowing boat. Alternatively, if you want more of a challenge, you can climb the nearby red granite pre-bolted crag. The vertiginous ridge between Nordskottind and Sørskottind is not for the faint-hearted, and you can also put on a head torch and walk through the 180-metre-long Reshola cave, which means "troll’s cave".
Autumn, winter and spring
The rest of the year is ideal for couples who want to relax in seclusion. Autumn brings glowing colours and some truly spectacular storms to the coastal landscape, and you can marvel at the Northern Lights through the floor-to-ceiling windows from early autumn to late winter. The winter climate in Steigen is far too mild for polar explorers, and snow clouds tend to pass right over. Instead, you can hike up a mountain on snowshoes or go kayaking in calm waters sheltered by islets and skerries. Spring comes early out here.
Getting to Manshausen
Visitors to Manshausen are collected by boat from the village of Nordskot, a few hundred metres away. From there it's about 90 minutes by express boat to Bodø and the airport, and you can also go north to Svolvær. You can also drive to Nordskot from the E6 via the Steigen Tunnel.
Manshausen has its own Facebook page, and we are among its many followers.