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The history of Sola Strand Hotel

Solastrandens Nordsjøbad at Stavanger is recommended to the respected public as a healthy place to reside. A beautiful, safe and sandy beach is on its very doorstep. The clear and salty North Sea is ideal for sea fishing, and with no steep banks is perfect for a swim. Our guests can take magnificent walks along the seashore and breathe in the invigorating sea air. The rooms at the hotel are light and airy; the dining room can accommodate over 100 people and the hotel can boast excellent cuisine, all modern conveniences and long-distance telephone. 
Automobile Stavanger – Sola.

Landlord: R. Christoffersen
 
Sola Strand Hotel was founded just before the outbreak of World War I, when a Stavanger-born restaurateur working for Sandnes Dampskibsselskap (The Sandnes Steamship Company) opened a small restaurant here in 1914. Business was quiet for the first 10-12 years. In 1927 the restaurant was bought by Ellen and Axel Lund. After renovations it was opened under the name of Sola Strandhytte (Sola Beach Cottage) in 1928.
 
In 1930 the cruise ship Montroyal was broken up at Stavanger Skipsopphugging (Stavanger Shipbreakers). Axel Lund bought the complete smoking lounge and rebuilt it exactly as it had been on board the ship, as an extension to Sola Strandhytte. At the same time, the name was changed to Sola Strand Hotel and the Montroyal lounge became the hotel ballroom.
 
When the old frigate Kong Sverre was broken up, Axel Lund bought some of the materials and used them to build a new dining room for the hotel. The dining room, called the King Sverre Hall, an outdoor swimming pool, The Merry Salmon restaurant and a new bedroom wing, named ‘Nye Fløyen’ were completed in 1936. The opening banquet of Stavanger Lufthavn (Stavanger Airport) in 1937, with King Haakon VII as the guest of honour, was held in the King Sverre Hall.
 
When war broke out in Poland in 1939, the hotel was used as quarters for Norwegian Air Force officers. On April 9th 1940, German soldiers from the occupation army took over the hotel and used it as quarters until the end of the war in 1945. Allied troops used the hotel until the end of 1946. When Ellen and Axel Lund resumed management of the hotel there were no fixtures or fittings remaining. All the buildings were in need of repair, but nevertheless, in the spring of 1947 the hotel was once more open for guests.
 
The hotel frequently use one of the many bunkers built along the beach during World War II. It is in its original condition and is used for wine and whisky tastings for groups visiting the hotel.
 
In the autumn of 1949, work on the northern part of the hotel, called Herregården, was started. This was completed in time for the summer season 1950. The annex, now called Axel’s Strandstuer, which was built and owned by the armed forces, was completed in 1952. The hotel had registered a right of use in return for guaranteeing a few rooms permanently available to the armed forces at reasonable prices.
 
The Ellen and Axel Lund foundation bought this building from the armed forces in 1980. 
The annex was renovated in the spring of 1999, and was ready for the summer season that year, now under the name of Axels Strandstuer (Axel’s Beach Cottages).
 
On 10th January 1950, Ellen and Axel Lund set up a foundation to own and run Sola Strand Hotel. The objective of the foundation is to run the hotel as a first class tourist hotel, and to use any profit for training hotel and restaurant personnel.
 
The Norwegian School of Hotel Management relocated from Oslo to Sola in 1952, and students assisted in running the hotel until 1967 The trustees of the foundation decided to discontinue standard hotel operations due to poor financial results in 1967. From then until the spring 
of 1974 when the Norwegian Hotel School was moved to Høyskolen på Ullandhaug, now The University of Stavanger, they used the facilities at the hotel. Part of the hotel was used as a student hall of residence until 1982.
 
The trustees decided to resume standard hotel operations in 1976. The buildings were renovated in stages to welcome guests. Renovating the hotel is an on-going process, enabled by the profit derived from running the hotel. In 1978 the hotel again resumed year-round operation.
 
Mathilde Christiane can be encountered in the reception area. She was the figurehead on a Swedish barque with the same name, which was shipwrecked on the coastline of Jæren in 1822. The large canvasses hanging in the reception area were painted by Ole Nesvik and inspired by the beach landscapes of Jæren. Ole Nesvik is represented in several famous galleries – eight of his paintings hang in the National Gallery and one in the Norwegian Parliament. 
 
The Merry Salmon bar and restaurant was used as the hotels’ a la carte restaurant until 1978. The name derives from the plaster cast copy of a large salmon hanging on the wall. This salmon was caught by Axel Lund at Sand in Suldal. In the salmon protocol from Sand the salmon is logged as follows:
 
Date: 27th July 1946
Where caught: Fosshølen
Weight in kilos: 27,0
Tool: Prawn
Water level: 3 ½
Fished by: Axel Lund
Additional remarks: “Later to be seen at Sola Strand Hotel”
 
Mr. Lund was a guest of Ragnvald Bjelland at Sand and Eilert Smith, Chr. W. Bjelland, Frithjof  Bjelland and Johs. Johnsen were also present when the salmon was caught. The Merry Salmon function room can seat up to 55 guests and is furnished in a traditional rustic farmhouse style with furniture from various places in Norway, including Hallingdal.
 
As mentioned previously, King Sverre Hall is built of wood from the frigate Kong Sverre, Norway’s largest naval sailing ship, built at Horten Shipyard in 1860. The ship had 52 cannons and was named ‘The Horror of Europe’ by the Norwegians. The floor of the hall is made of wood from the ratings’ deck. A model of the ship can be viewed at the Maritime Museum in Horten. The King Sverre Hall seats 120 guests.
 
The Montroyal Hall is the original smokers lounge from the cruise ship Montroyal.  The ship was originally called Empress of Britain but was renamed Montroyal in 1924. Built in 1906 and owned by the Canadian Pacific Line, it could carry 1540 passengers and had a crew of 370 men. It was powered by a 20,000-horse power engine and managed 20 knots. The ship was used for sailings between England and Canada, later also cruise traffic, and was furthermore used to transport troops during World War I. The fireplace in the hall, the glass ceiling and all windows that do not open to the outdoors are also original. On both sides of the fireplace are bound copies of the illustrated magazines London News Telegraph and The Graphic dating back to 1840. This Hall is used as a ballroom for private functions and can seat 80 guests.
 
The Sola Hall is used as the breakfast room. This is part of the original building from 1914 with the tower suite and the lobby area with the fireplace. The pictures hanging on the walls are copies of watercolours painted by Ellen Lund’s grandfather, ship-owner Mons Gabriel Monsen from Tananger about 120 years ago. The original watercolours are kept in Stavanger Museum. 50 guests can be seated in the Sola Hall. The New Sola Hall was inaugurated in 2003. In the two Sola Halls we can seat 100 guests in total. By using all four halls the total capacity is 300 guests. In total the private functions section of the hotel comprises The Merry Salmon, the King Sverre Hall, Montroyal and the Sola Halls.
 
The history of the Halls, their atmosphere and ambience make them some of the finest and most original for private functions in Norway.
 
Strandbaren (the beach bar) with views overlooking the sand dunes and the open sky was also opened in 2003. This was quickly established as a popular place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a bowl of homemade fish soup and was therefore expanded in 2012, and expanded again in 2014.
 
Nordsjøsenteret (The North Sea centre) with its 6 group rooms and 2 meeting rooms with panoramic views over the beach and the North Sea was inaugurated in December 1998. Adjoining the meeting room Ellens Utsikt in Nordsjøsenteret is the lounge Stormsalongen. The walls of this lounge are covered with paintings from the local maritime painter Ivan Storm Juliussen.
 
In 2010 Solasenteret opened. A three story building connecting Strandstuene (Axel’s Beach Cottage) with the rest of the hotel. Solasenteret comprises of a conference centre with 4 meeting rooms, 11 bedrooms and Nordsjøbadet Spa. Nordsjøbadet Spa offers five treatment rooms, a counter current pool, three saunas, a cold water plunge pool and relaxation areas.
 
All the bedrooms have been renovated and the last stage was finished in 2012, but renovation is an on-going process in a historic hotel.
 
In January 2012 Erling Skjalgssonsenteret was inaugurated. This is a large building consisting of 5 meeting rooms with a total capacity of 300 delegates and 56 new bedrooms.
 
Today we offer a total of 139 bedrooms, 3 modern conference centres, a first-class restaurant, unique event facilities and Nordsjøbadet Spa. The historic aspect is well preserved and in daily use.