Barentsburg Hotel

View over Barentsburg from southeast - the hotel in the lower left corner.
Barentsburg Hotel, seen from the main street from north.
The hotel bar.
One of the hotel rooms.
Bathroom of one of the hotel rooms.

The main russian mining settlement Barentsburg (founded in the 1920s by a dutch mining company, hence the name Barentsburg, commemorating the dutch discoverer of Spitsbergen, Willem Barents) is officially accessible for international tourists since 1989 and since then, also the Barentsburg Hotel can be used bz "normal" visitors. Renovations in 2005 and 2011/12

Barentsburg Hotel is situated in the uppermost southern part of the settlement - with scenic view across Grønfjord ("Greenfjord", english traditional name: Green Harbour), at least from the rooms looking west. It is a 4-floor building with strong brick walls from the early 1980s.

Hotel facilities:
All rooms are actually small appartements with entrance room, bathroom (shower, washing basin, toilet) and the main room, all with high ceilings and good space (bathroom small), including numerous wardrobes.
Reception, hotel bar with eating room and adjascent kitchen for preparing the meals are on the first floor. Throughout most of the year, overnight hotelguests are very few, therefore, visitors should announce their arrival time and make reservations also for meals in advance to give the staff the opportunity for preparations. At least the receptionist / bar lady speaks some english.
Breakfast and other meals are not included in price, but have to be ordered and paid extra. Compared to Longyearbyen, overnight prices are fairly low, while meal prices are higher (also regarding standard/choice), even though the hotel staff tries to give the meals a nice appeal with several courses. In any case, you get an idea of traditional russian food. Russian breakfast is a major meal as a solid start into the day.
All in all, Barentsburg Hotel is certainly somewhat different from what is familiar international western standard. Partly, this has its charme and russian hospitality. But some prices are exaggerated and you may have to search for staff. If you want to stay in Barentsburg for longer than the usual 2-hours sightseeing visit, and if you do not just seek a confirmation of prejudices, you should be open for the cultural-historic differences between the norwegian and russian settlements: just for having everything similar to home, one does not really have to travel.

Please observe that touristic transports between Longyearbyen and Barentsburg are problematic for larger parts of the year - in some periods, there are none, at all. Easiest is summer with almost daily boats between the settlements (June - September, requiring a minimum number of bookings, but cancellations, also because of weather or ice, are rare at least from mid-June until end of August). The second-best season regarding accessibility is late winter and spring (especially March to beginning of May), when Barentsburg can be reached by snowmobile (precondition: suitable weather and snow conditions). Bad weather can cause postponing of such tours. While this is less a problem for a day excursion, you should make sure in advance that there is a free room available also in Longyearbyen, in case you cannot start your Barentsburg visit on the planned day due to for instance a snowstorm preventing snowmobile use. Similarly, you should have a spare day or two in Longyearbyen after your planned return from a Barentsburg stay before your plane leaves - in case your return is delayed.
There is a russian helicopter - but it has no license for commercial transports, only for staff and goods of the russian mining company.
Liability issues: The russian coal company owning and running Barentsburg and Pyramiden has no liability insurance. Accordingly, visits to the russian settlements are at own risk, also with tour operators, regarding for instance accidents caused by poor maintenance of buildings or other infrastructure.
Minimal touristic infrastrukture: Mexcept of the souvenir sale in the hotel anc culture house, and the interesting Pomor Museum, Barentsburg has practically no other touristic infrastructure for hotel guests: no other shops accessible to tourists, no local bus, taxi or boat services, no rental of bicycles, boats, snowmobiles or cars.

Last Modification: 02.03.2012