Heima í Stovu is relaxation on a new level — on a remote part of the Faroe Islands
Entrepreneur Guðrun Rógvadóttir shares the story of how her old family house has been turned into a boutique hotel — home away from home — located in the village of Hvalba in the middle of the North Atlantic ocean.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
December 05, 2023
When Rógvadóttir is not busy welcoming guests from near and far to her great-grandparents’ house built in 1912, she’s one of the founders of Guðrun & Guðrun. The Faroese designer company specialises in knits and has reached a global audience since founded more than 20 years ago.
— It’s our old family house with a lot of family treasures, she explains. Every cup, every knife, and every picture on the wall is from our big family. And now it’s a hotel — but quite a special hotel. It’s our family house and then we invite people to stay with us. So, it’s a small guest house or boutique hotel with a few rooms and we stay really close; we are the hosts while people are visiting us. So, it’s like an experience of staying inside a house of a family.
”It’s like an experience of staying inside a house of a family”
The hospitality industry talks about how to make a space feels like home, but this is next level, right?
— This is next level because it is a home, not a place. It’s made like it was in 1910. All the things in the interior — glasses, crystals, silver… — are things from 1910. It’s not bought in antique shops or in markets but actually has a history from our family. It could be the wedding gift from an uncle in the room — and, in the bridal suite, it’s actually the bridal furniture from my great grandmother.
It’s located in a very small village which is not on the main islandbutone of the very few ones not connected by a bridge or a tunnel.
— No, you need to take a ferry and it’s a beautiful two-hour ride. This is one of the not so explored islands on the Faroe Islands and not a lot of tourists. So, there’s also a chance to be almost a pioneer in finding the spots. There are a lot of things to see in Suðuroy — but not a lot of tourists know about it.
Can you describe the nature and what it’s like to live there, or visit?
— I came from the village yesterday, and what is remarkable is that it’s always very lively. Especially, for instance, during haying time when people are cutting the hay, drying it on the ground, and putting them up in racks. So, it’s done in a very old fashioned way. People are out and they talk with each other. You might go to the grocery store and there’s a car in front of you — and they just talk. And then, they might be there for 10 minutes, so then you wait for 10 minutes. People have time and they’re very talkative and open. Of course, we don’t have the big things from the big cities, but we have something else — we have nature and not least, we have each other and we have community.
Who is visiting Heima í Stovu? Who’s the target group?
— People that have tried to be on the biggest Hilton or in the big resorts and are looking for new things, says Rógvadóttir. People that are really digging further into what kind of experience you could have. So, there are more travellers than tourists. Our guests want to go deeper and see something special — and they’re willing to spend a few days together with us, not only as guests in the house but almost as part of the family.
You’re a very successful entrepreneur. Why do you also run this house?
— My cousin, who I have the house with, has been working with tourism for many, many years. He is based in the house. I’m only there. I use to say that it’s my weekend identity staying there. During the week, I’m very busy with my company and that’s where my focus is. But I also find it interesting and cosy. And there are different ways of relaxing. Some people have to lie on the couch while I relax being in the house doing something else, being in my rubber boots outside, going for the potatoes, painting something outside, or working on the house. This builds me up and take me back to my roots, Rógvadóttir shares. She adds:
— It feels very here and now to go to the place, which is why we could all use a visit there. I think it’s relaxation on a new level. You can just escape — and it’s a good escape. It could be a weekend escape, it could also be a winter escape. I love being there in winter time when it’s dark almost all the time and we might have the storms outside. We have three different fireplaces, we’re having some glühwein and just sit in the library reading or doing nothing. It’s a great thing — and increasingly popular!