Co-workers who fall in love share a hotel room

(CNN) — When Ida Skibenes pulled up outside the Solstrand Hotel, her stomach was in knots, lurching between nerves and excitement.

The Solstrand is one of Norway’s most beautiful hotels, located outside of Bergen, built by the fjords and home to over 125 years of history.

“It’s like a yellow castle, almost. It’s very beautiful. And it’s a very quiet place, there’s no traffic, it’s under the sea,” Ida told CNN Travel.

Every year, Ida’s Bergen workplace is moved to Solstrand’s dream for a few days of remote work. That year, 2014, Ida was first in the group. His colleagues regaled him with stories of Solstrand and he was delighted. But he was not happy to escape from the city and relax among the mountains. From Hanna Aardal.

Hanna is Ida’s colleague. When Ida started the group, they clicked immediately, but they were at different points in their lives. At that time, Ida was married, and she focused on her relationship and held a new job. Now, Hanna is a single parent whose young daughter moved to America to study for a year.

But as the months passed, their situation changed. Ida’s relationship failed, and she got divorced. Hanna transferred her daughter to a foreign country, and began to spend more time with colleagues. Over time, Hanna and Ida grew closer.

“Our strength is equal,” said Ida. “It’s more fun at work when Hanna is working.”

“I think we have the same sense of humor, so we became fast friends,” Hanna said.

Hanna and Ida began working on a fun side project together, a short comedy in the style of “The Office,” which featured the quirks of their workplace. The film is set to be shot at the Solstrand retreat.

The Solstrand Hotel in Norway plays an important role in Hanna and Ida's relationship.

The Solstrand Hotel in Norway plays an important role in Hanna and Ida’s relationship.


The two worked on the project after hours, and began sharing dinners and drinks together. They often text each other good night.

Reflecting on this moment today, Ida and Hanna say they “laugh without knowing.”

“I’m used to being with men, and I’ve never been with women,” Hanna said. “Looking back, it’s kind of clear that we meant to each other.”

Ida doesn’t know if Hanna will be open to dating a woman. He didn’t know if his feelings were reciprocated, or if they were in his head. However, Ida believes there are signs that there is more to the relationship.

A few weeks before the Solstrand trip, they slept over at Hanna’s home, talking. At 2 am, Ida said she was going home, Hanna took her hand and asked her not to leave. It was like a “turning point,” at least for Ida. But he left everything behind – both of them had been drinking, and he thought that the conversation would be discussed under different circumstances.

Solstrand, Ida decided, was the perfect opportunity. Especially when Ida and Hanna were chosen to room together.

“I had feelings for Hanna, and I fell in love with her,” Ida said. “But if everything is in my head, then I have to explain that. And we will work together. So I decided that if we end up in the same room, it’s a sign for me to really do it anything about it.”

Also, Solstrand is a beautiful and friendly place.

“At least if he had turned me on, I wouldn’t have been like this throwaway.


Hanna (left) and Ida became close friends leading the Solstrand group.

Hanna (left) and Ida became close friends leading the Solstrand group.

Ida Skibenes

Ida brought up the topic at the end of the first day in Solstrand. It was evening, and the two women slept in their separate twin beds.

Hanna’s response surprised them.

“I kind of started saying ‘I know we’ve become close friends and everything, I love you like a friend.’ But when I say it, I know it’s true, it’s something more,” Hanna said.

“I was scared when he told me,” Ida said. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. This can’t happen.'”

After the initial shock, the conversation continued.

“We talked, we kissed. Then we kind of sat down and decided to think about things later,” said Ida.

The next day, Ida and Hanna have a busy day of meetings and presentations. They didn’t talk about what had happened the previous evening, but it was a tradition in their group to give greeting cards to their fellow Solstrand residents at the end of the tour.

In Ida and Hanna’s cards, they wrote their growing feelings. And Ida happily sent her close friends the news.

“I posted, like, three fingers, ‘We did it!'” Ida said.

“But other than that, we’ve been quiet for a long time.”

Solstrand is surrounded by Norway's fjords and mountains.

Solstrand is surrounded by Norway’s fjords and mountains.


Hanna needs some time to come to terms with her newfound emotions.

“I’ve been in a few relationships, but mostly I’m a single parent and self-sufficient in nature, and not very good at relationships. .”

Ida and Hanna also realize that they are not only threatening a friendship, but a working relationship as well. For Hanna, this increased her anxiety.

“I think I was too scared to mess things up between us,” Hanna said. “Because we’re working together, there are more consequences if I make a mistake – which I’m sure I will – sometimes.”

Ida and Hanna took it slow, but they slowly bonded. Six months after their conversation in Solstrand, they were on another business trip, and decided they were ready to tell their colleagues. Later, back home in Bergen, Hanna shared the news with her daughter.

“She was so happy for us,” Hanna said, recalling her daughter joking that it must be weird to have a man in their house.

“He came out to us, two years later, so it’s a very gay family,” Hanna said.

Return to Solstrand

Ida asked Hanna on the trip back to Solstrand.

Ida asked Hanna on the trip back to Solstrand.


Hanna and Ida moved in together in 2016, not long after sharing the news of their relationship with their lovers. They began to discuss marriage, and they decided that when the time felt right, Ida would be the one to get engaged.

“I love surprises, and Ida hates surprises,” Hanna explained.

Ida knew exactly where she wanted to propose: Solstrand. Three years after they expressed their feelings for the first time, Ida and Hanna returned to the famous hotel for the annual reunion. The company just announced the traditional office “mockumentary,” when Ida stopped working.

“He just stood up in front of everybody and said, ‘There’s a video’ and he gave me a box of Kleenex because I cry, I cry all the time. And then he did to this sweet and romantic video with music, showing our relationship, and ending with a proposal.”

Wiping away happy tears, Hanna said yes.

“It would be too bad if I didn’t,” he laughs today.

Hanna and Ida got married at the Solstrand hotel, and they will get married in Bergen in 2022.

Hanna and Ida got married at the Solstrand hotel, and they will get married in Bergen in 2022.

Ragnhild Storsletten Åse

“I was very worried,” said Ida. “Maybe I told, like, a few people before we went, but five minutes before I went to show the movie, I ran and told everybody.”

Her colleagues were delighted, and encouraged the anxious Ida to go there.

“I had a total meltdown, I had two glasses of wine and two cigarettes, and then I was good to go,” Ida said.

“Working in that hotel with those people is very appropriate, because they have been part of the whole journey of our relationship. So it’s interesting and very happy. to be happy with many people who love we and we want to be happy.”

After several postponed wedding plans, Ida and Hanna got married in the summer of 2022. The long-awaited ceremony was held outdoors, in a Bergen park near their home.

“It was a really special celebration,” Hanna said, recalling a day of sunshine and festivities.

Start a journey

Ida and Hanna hope to one day celebrate 50 years of marriage together.

Ida and Hanna hope to one day celebrate 50 years of marriage together.

Ida Skibenes

Hanna and Ida no longer work. When Ida left the company a few years ago, her colleagues gave her a gift card for a romantic weekend in Solstrand. The couple looks forward to returning, and hopes to one day celebrate 50 years of marriage at their favorite hotel.

Hanna and Ida describe their years as an “exciting and fun journey.”

“This is the feeling of having your best friend there, all the way. Like anything that happens, you have your best friend, and you hope that things will work out.” later,” said Ida, who added that becoming a grandparent “changed her life” and taught her a lot.

Hanna said she learned a lot from Ida.

“Ida is very brave,” Hanna said. “He’s smarter than me when it comes to relationships and emotions.

“We bonded very quickly and we had this complete trust in each other, so we could be ourselves. I also love my daughter and have a family — a bigger family.”

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