Colleagues who fell in love while sharing a hotel room

(CNN) – As Ida Skibenes pulled up to the Solstrand Hotel, her stomach churned from nervous excitement to excitement.

Solstrand is one of the most beautiful hotels in Norway, located near Bergen, surrounded by fjords and home to over 125 years of history.

“It almost looks like a yellow castle. He’s very handsome. And this is a very quiet place, there are no cars here, it is located by the sea,” says Ida. CNN Travel.

Every year, Ida’s workplace in Bergen moved to the dreamy surroundings of Solstrand for a couple of days of remote work. That 2014 was the first year for Ida in the company. Colleagues entertained her with stories about Solstrand, and she was thrilled. But her excitement wasn’t really about escaping the city and relaxing in the mountains. It’s all about Hanna Aardal.

Hannah was Ida’s colleague. When Ida started working for the company, they quickly found a common language, but ended up in different areas of their lives. At the time, Ida was married and focused on her relationship and getting a new job. Meanwhile, Hannah was a single parent whose teenage daughter had just moved to the US to study for a year.

But as the months went by, their circumstances changed. Ida’s relationship fell apart and she went through a divorce. Hannah has adjusted to her daughter’s overseas presence and has begun spending more time with colleagues. Over time, Hannah and Ida grew closer.

“Our energies matched,” Ida put it that way. “It was always more fun to work when Hannah was at work.”

“I think we had a similar sense of humor, so we quickly became friends,” says Hannah.

Hannah and Ida began working together on a fun side project, a short Office mockumentary showcasing the quirks of their work. The film was to be shown at the Solstrand retreat.

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


They worked on the project after hours and started eating and drinking regularly. They corresponded regularly, often wishing each other goodnight.

Reflecting on this period today, Ida and Hanna suggest that they “dated without realizing it.”

“I’m used to dating men and have never been in a relationship with a woman,” says Hanna. “Looking back, it’s obvious that we had feelings for each other.”

Ida didn’t know if Hannah would agree to date a woman. And she didn’t know if her feelings were mutual or if they were all in her head. However, Ida felt that there were signs that the relationship was something more.

A few weeks before the trip to Solstrand, they stayed up late at Hanna’s house, chatting. When Ida told her to go home at 2 am, Hannah took her hand and asked her not to leave. This seemed like a “turning point”, at least for Ida. But she left anyway – they were both drunk, and she felt that the conversation should have been conducted under different circumstances.

Solstrand, Ida decided, was the perfect opportunity. Especially when Ida and Hanna happen to be in the same room.

“I had feelings for Hannah and I was definitely in love with her,” says Ida. “But if it was all in my head, then I needed to clarify it. And we were going to work together. So I just figured if we were in the same room, it would be a sign for me to do something about it.” .”

In addition, Solstrand was a beautiful romantic setting.

“At least if she refused me, I would not be lying somewhere in this garbage dump. I would still be in a beautiful hotel,” Ida jokes.


Hannah (left) and Ida became close friends ahead of the Solstrand retreat.

Hannah (left) and Ida became close friends ahead of the Solstrand retreat.

Ida Skibenes

Ida brought up the subject at the end of the first day in Solstrand. It was late in the evening and the two women were lying on their separate beds.

Hannah’s answer surprised them both.

“I kind of started saying, ‘I know we’ve become close friends and all, I love you as a friend.’ But then, while I was saying this, I realized that, of course, this is something more, ”recalls Hannah.

“I freaked out when she told me that,” Ida says. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute. This is not happening.”

After the initial shock, the conversation continued.

“We talked, we kissed. And then we somehow calmed down and decided that over time we would figure everything out, ”says Ida.

The next day, Ida and Hanna were busy with meetings and presentations. They didn’t talk about what had happened the night before, but it was customary for everyone in their group to hand out greeting cards to their Solstrand roommates at the end of the trip.

In Ida and Hanna’s postcards, they write down their nascent feelings. And Ida excitedly told her close friends this news.

“I wrote three thumbs up: “We kissed!” Ida says.

“But other than that, we were silent for a long time.”

Solstrand is surrounded by Norwegian fjords and mountains.

Solstrand is surrounded by Norwegian fjords and mountains.


It took Hanna some time to come to terms with her newly admitted feelings.

“I’ve had some relationships, but mostly I’ve been a single parent and kind of very self-sufficient, and didn’t get along very well with close relationships. .”

Both Ida and Hannah were also aware that they were risking not only their friendship, but also their working relationship. For Hannah, this heightened her anxiety.

“I think I was really afraid of messing things up between the two of us,” says Hannah. “Because we worked together, it would have more serious consequences if I screwed up – which I guessed – at some point.”

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

“She was very happy for us,” says Hanna, recalling how her daughter joked that it would be strange to have a man in their women’s house.

“She joined us two years later, so it’s a very fun family,” adds Hannah.

Return to Solstrand

Ida proposed to Hanna during a return visit to Solstrand.

Ida proposed to Hanna during a return visit to Solstrand.


Hannah and Ida moved in together in 2016, shortly after sharing news of their relationship with their loved ones. They began to discuss marriage and decided that when the time was right, Ida would propose.

“I love surprises, but Ida hates them,” Hannah explains.

Eda knew exactly who she wanted to propose to: Solstrand. Three years after they first voiced their feelings out loud, Ida and Hanna are back at the historic hotel for their annual corporate retreat. The company was just broadcasting a traditional office mockumentary when Ida interrupted the process.

“She just stood up in front of everyone and said, ‘There’s another video,’ and gave me a box of paper napkins because I cry, I cry all the time. And then she made this very sweet and romantic video with music depicting our relationship and ending with a proposal.”

Wiping her happy tears, Hannah said yes.

“It would be very embarrassing if I didn’t,” she jokes today.

Hanna and Ida got engaged at the Solstrand Hotel and married in Bergen in 2022.

Hanna and Ida got engaged at the Solstrand Hotel and married in Bergen in 2022.

Ragnhild Storsletten Ose

“I was very nervous,” Ida recalls. “Maybe I said, for example, to a couple of people before we went, but five minutes before I was going to show the film, I ran and told everyone.”

Her colleagues were delighted and urged the panicked Ida to go for it.

“I had a complete collapse, I drank two glasses of wine and two cigarettes, and then I was ready to go,” says Ida.

“It felt very right to do it in that hotel with these people, because they kind of accompanied us all the way through our relationship. So it was exciting and a lot of fun. celebrate with so many people who love us and want us to be happy.”

In the summer of 2022, Ida and Hannah postponed their wedding plans due to the pandemic. The long-awaited ceremony took place outside, in a Bergen park near the couple’s home.

“It was a really special holiday,” says Hanna, recalling a sunny and fun day.

Going on a trip

Ida and Hanna hope to one day celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary together.

Ida and Hanna hope to one day celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary together.

Ida Skibenes

Hanna and Ida don’t work together anymore. When Ida left the company a few years ago, colleagues gave her a gift card for a romantic weekend at Solstrand. The couple are looking forward to returning and hope to one day celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary at their favorite hotel.

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

“It was the feeling that your best friend is always there. No matter what happens, you have a best friend and it makes you feel like everything will work out in the end,” says Ida, adding that becoming a stepfather also “changed her life” and taught her a lot.

Hanna says she also learned a lot from Ida.

“Ida is very brave,” says Hannah. “She is much wiser than me when it comes to relationships and emotions. And she’s very brave when she dares to talk about things when things get tough.”

“We bonded very quickly and we have complete trust in each other so we can be ourselves. I had never been in such a close relationship before and it changed my life in many ways. I also have a partner who also loves his daughter and being a family – a big family.”

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