Svalbard is an amazing place – and one of the top destinations on my own bucket list. It is the northernmost place on Earth that’s still relatively easy to travel to.
There are a handful Svalbard accommodations to choose from once you’re there.
And, even though the place is expensive, you can generally find something to suit your budget and needs.
I stayed in the Gjestehuset 102 Svalbard – a very memorable guest house experience, and one I highly recommend.
Here is a guide for where to stay in Svalbard.
Svalbard’s population is about 2200 people. As you might imagine, with a population so small, there are still not many options for Longyearbyen hotels.
Hotels in Longyearbyen
Here are some of your options (and our honest opinion of each establishment).
Radisson Blu Polar Hotel
Yes, this is a hotel franchise, but somehow, the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel maintains some unique characteristics. This is one of the best hotels in Svalbard for many visitors.
It has standard rooms, friendly staff, and its outdoor jacuzzi is the highlight of the hotel’s amenities. Unfortunately, the hotel is not that accessible for people with disabilities.
There is no elevator in the Radisson Blu Svalbard, so make sure to ask for the ground level room if you are unable to use stairs, for example.
If you like a rustic, early arctic explorer and expedition theme, look no further than the Svalbard Basecamp Hotel in Longyearbyen’s town center.
Its 16 rooms are cozy with logs and driftwood paneling, sealskin and slate, as well as maps, historical photographs, and artifacts.
Even better, it is owned by the luxury travel company, Basecamp Explorer. You can also arrange your Svalbard expeditions and excursions through them.
Mary Ann’s Polarrigg Guesthouse
Hands down, Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg is one of the most unique hotels I’ve ever come across. It is an eclectic hotel, you will be welcomed through a reindeer gateway, a coal mining wagon (and a miner mannequin), and amenities from a converted bus.
If the Hot Stone Massage or Aurora Spa options are not appealing to you, you may want to check out Mary Ann’s Winter Garden Restaurant and Fireplace Bar or the Shang-Po-Lar Dining Room.
They specialize in Arctic dishes, such as trout, seal, reindeer, and whale, but they also have some more familiar food as well, including Thai food.
Svalbard Hotell | Polfareren
Svalbard Hotel is one of the more standard, comfortable hotels in Svalbard. It operates a few hotels in Longyearbyen – all within walking distance of each other.
The Svalbard Hotell Polfareren has bright, sleek and modern rooms with an Arctic theme. Look out for deals for the Polar Bear Suite.
Breakfast comes with our booking – just head downstairs to the hotel’s Polfareren Restaurant for its delicious Nordic-style breakfast.
You can always find free coffee and tea in the lobby to warm up your day!
Inquire about their Svalbard Lodge Apartments option, with two or three rooms.
Svalbard Hotell | The Vault
Although you shouldn’t confuse it with the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, there is a hotel in Longyearbyen named after this famous Svalbard landmark.
Svalbard Hotel – The Vault is the newest addition to the list of hotels in Longyearbyen, and its modern cozy design is inviting. It is not too far from either the Svalbard Museum and Svalbard Church, and it is about five minute walk from the town center.
Funken Lodge occupies one of the historical structures in Svalbard, and was completed in 1946. It operated as an administrative building for the Store Norske – a Spitsbergen mining company – until mid 1980s.
Spitsbergen Travel bought the structure in 1993 to renovate it as a cozy and comfortable hotel and restaurant.
Funken Lodge is within walking distance to Longyearbyen town center. Its location on top a hill offers a great view of Longyearbyen.
You can see the Adventfjorden and Hiortfjellet Mountains from the Funken Lodge’s restaurant!
There are a gym and a sauna that you can use while staying here.
Affordable Svalbard accommodations
As you might imagine, traveling on a budget in Svalbard can be challenging. Budget accommodation in Longyearbyen isn’t quite as cheap as you’ll find in most other place in the world.
However, there are some notable places where you can stay for cheaper in Svalbard.
Longyearbyen Camping Spitsbergen
There is only one camping option in Svalbard, if you want to rough it. This Svalbard camping location is not too far from Svalbard Airport.
It faces the pristine lagoon, and you can find friendly staff, toilet facilities, and a kitchen in the camping house.
The campground is a popular place to stay in Svalbard in the summer. But remember, the sun doesn’t go down in summer, so don’t forget to bring you eye mask to sleep during those long summer days!
Haugen Pensjonat Svalbard
If clean and basic accommodation is all you need, Svalbard Haugen Pensjonat is worth considering. It is slightly outside the Longyearbyen town center, not too far away from the Funken Lodge Hotel, on top of a hill.
This pension house is basically a hostel, and it offers shared living quarters, bathroom, and kitchen.
There’s an apartment option for rent in the property.
Guests can’t stop talking about the free cookies and some other fresh bakery items, a well as better than average size spaces, including the rooms.
Gjestehuset 102 Svalbard
This is where I stayed in Longyearbyen. Gjestehuset 102 is one of the most popular budget hostel in Svalbard, and it is easy to see why.
While calling it as a guesthouse is a bit of a stretch, Gjestehuset 102 offers comfortable accommodation. There are a few options where you can have different hostel bunk bed arrangements in a room.
For backpackers or group travelers, this may not be a bad option at all.
Gjestehuset 102 Guesthouse is technically outside the town limit in Nybyen – about a 30-minute walk from the town center. If you are bringing a drone with you, this is the only location in Longyearbyen where you can legally fly a drone.
If you fly it just right, you might even get a nice glimpse of the nearby Longyear Glacier!
Coal Miners’ Cabins
Across from Gjestehuset 102, another Svalbard hostel option is Coal Miners’ Cabins.
Coal Miners’ Cabins is a great budget accommodation option in Longyearbyen. As the name implies, these buildings in Nybyen were coal miners’ cabins when Longyearbyen was an active coal mining town.
Don’t miss its wonderful and super cozy restaurants (reindeer burgers, anyone?). There are a few great beer options here, too, as well as great dining atmosphere and dishes.
Other Svalbard Accommodations
Although the majority of the place on the list above are Longyearbyen hotels and establishments, I have to include a few other amazing accommodations in Svalbard, outside the city limit.
Barentsburg is the second largest city in Svalbard, and it is a popular day trip destination for a Svalbard cruise.
As an active Russian mining town, Barentsburg has very unique characteristics and customs, and we recommended staying here overnight.
Then, there is the one and only Barentsburg Hotel. It is on the edge of the town (that you can walk across town in less than three minutes), and only a hop away from the Barentsburg Brewery and the post office!
Another hotel in Barentsburg, which we unfortunately didn’t get to see, is the Hostel Pomor.
Pyramiden is another popular Svalbard day trip. It’s famous for its nature as an abandoned Arctic mining town. Pyramiden’s permanent population is just six people; however, they have a single hotel to accommodate a few curious guests who want to stay at the northernmost hotel in the world.
Isfjord Radio Hotel
If Longyearbyen, Svalbard is not remote enough for you, consider the Isfjord Radio site. It is remote – about 90 kilometers from Longyearbyen.
Since there’s no road connecting the two, you will have to hop on a snowmobile or dogsled to get to this place in the middle of Svalbard wilderness!
But what a day trip that would be!
Unfortunately it is not possible to go to the hotel on your own, so you will have to book your package tour to stay here.
The hotel belongs to the Basecamp Explorer, which also operates the Basecamp Hotel in Longyearbyen’s town center.
Keep in mind that this is polar bear country – you won’t be able to explore the wilderness without you “polar bear protection” – a.k.a. a polar bear rifle.
Longyearbyen Airport to Town Center
There are only a handful of daily flights to Svalbard Airport Longyear, and there is always a free shuttle to pick up visitors and drop them off in any of these hotels.
You don’t even have to book it in advance.
Just pick up your bags and hop onto one of these shuttle buses. They will announce your Longyearbyen accommodation once you get close.
Returning to the airport Svalbard, you can hop on the same shuttle that goes around from hotel to hotel before each flight. This will cost you NOK 75 per ride, and you can purchase the ticket on-board and pay by a credit card.
Ask your hotel staff for the exact time and where you can find the closest pick up point.
Walking to Longyearbyen town center is not recommended for your own safety. The area between is a polar bear unsafe zone.
Longyearbyen to other Svalbard destinations
Logistically, it is not impossible for you to travel to other Svalbard destinations by yourself. You will have to rely on tour operators to get you to Barentsburg, Pyramiden, and the Isfjord Radio.
Explore your options here at the official Visit Svalbard website.
How expensive is Svalbard?
Here’s a video I made looking at some of the prices in Svalbard. From food to alcohol, here’s what you need to know!
Svalbard Polar Bears
A polar pear greets you at Svalbard Airport as soon as you walk into the arrivals hall. Yes, there is a lot of wildlife of Svalbard, including polar bears, that can be dangerous for humans.
Longyearbyen’s map, as well as Barentsburg’s, has a clear limit on where you can wander safely.
If you go outside these zones, you should always carry a rifle or travel with someone who has one.
Seriously, if you choose not to, you really are risking your life. Carry a rifle or travel (if you can legally do so) with someone who has one.
Shoes off at Svalbard Hotels
No matter where you stay in Svalbard, it’s “shoes off at the front door!” Leave them there in the provided shoe rack.
That way, you will leave the dirt outside and in the foyer.
This list contains pretty much every hotel and hostel in Svalbard, so we hope you can find something to make your visit to this amazing area even more perfect than it already will be.
And again, watch out for polar bears!
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Halef moved from Indonesia to the US nearly two decades ago to go to college here. He hasn’t looked back. He’s been to over forty countries and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He’s a Landscape Architect in Atlanta, GA.