The Nordic Viking Inn

As we drove deeper north into the picturesque woodlands of Minnesota past blue lake after deep blue lake, it seemed we were a slowly motoring into a different time. It wasn’t until we arrived at the Nordic Viking Inn in Crosby that we realized we’d traveled 1300 years deep into history. In 2009, before we had even officially begun planning for this trip, we saw this unique hotel on the Travel Channel’s Extreme Mind Blowing Hotels, and once we started planning, it cemented itself as a must-see.

We arrived and had some trouble finding a parking space for the RV+ (that’s what we call the RV + Dolly + Car). There’s no formal parking for the Inn, so we had to squeeze into a spot across the street. Once we parked, we grabbed our bags, walked up the stoop to meet the inn keeper Steinnar – dressed in full Viking cloak – and his faithful companion, Thor.

Thor was part dog, mostly horse, a tall, midnight black Great Dane whose expressive eyes (which I could see without bending down!) immediately got us wishing that Buddy had a few moments more that he could meet, prance and play with Thor, who would have immediately become the Bud-man’s best friend.

Thor nappin' - that's a full sized couch.

Steinnar gave us a quick rundown of a few improvements he had planned outside, including his own Hops plants for his microbrewery. The Inn was truly amazing, trimmed in imperfectly-placed light wood slats and detailed with Viking decorations made by Steinarr and available for purchase through his website. Above us was Oden’s Loft, a replica of a Viking long-ship and our room for the night.

Viking Shoes by Steinarr

Now, I don’t know much about the Viking period. But, this all seemed pretty authentic. In addition to the many Viking weapons and artwork, there are two couches sculpted of prehistoric-looking branches, a large dining table (today adorned with one of Steinarr’s many new Viking projects) and an enormous carved bar with beautifully engraved stools. We were even invited to wear leather Viking house shoes (also made by Steinarr) upon our entry. We dig themes, so the word excited is not quite adequate to describe our enthusiasm.

Steinarr encouraged us to take a seat at the bar when we first arrived, and we readily pulled up a stool. Visitors, in order to purchase a drink must exchange United State currency for the currency of the Nordic Inn, the clay formed Kronars (also created by Steinarr).

This seemed like an unnecessary step if 1 Kronar = 1 dollar upon arrival and they can be used towards your bill at the end of your stay. But, it adds to the experience and as Kimmer grabbed four to toss in my bag for us to take as souvenirs, we realized the genius behind them.

Steinnar's special dark roast and our remaining Kronar.

We bought $30 worth, and ordered up two beers (at 5 Kronars each plus the 4 Kimmer stuffed in my purse) to kick off our adventure. We sat at the bar from our arrival at 4:00 until just after 6:30 and learned quite a lot about Steinarr from his many projects to his philosophy and politics.

Steinarr is a big boastful man, tall and stout, with long wavy gray hair and a thick Viking beard. His voice level varies between loud and louder and toned very similar to Penn Gillett from the magic comedy duo Penn and Teller. He is full of humor and overflowing with opinions, perhaps to his business detriment. You really have to “get him” to “get him.” And, I’m afraid, based on the negative feedback we read on Trip Advisor after our visit, that he may rub some folks the wrong way.

In fact, not being a person who discusses politics very often and one who pays only a distant notice to the day’s financial and business world, I was forced to check out the main room of the Inn, pet Thor or focus on my beer. It may be easier to escape if the Inn was full, but tonight we were the only guests and had Steinarr’s full attention – or did he have ours?

Steinarr explained that just today he had been informed that his live-in helper, who normally cooked, had put in her notice and he would need to excuse himself to make dinner. So he dove downstairs to the kitchen and we popped up to our room to settle in.

Our bed sat in the middle of the Viking long ship in the main room. The room was quite large, featuring a separate master bath and a very large Jacuzzi tub. I was very excited about slipping into a tub of any size since I have not been able to soak in a bath since we began this journey.

The room is amazing and well-themed but if you visit, be prepared for the loft’s open design. It was so open in fact that we changed in the bathroom, and at around midnight Kimmer (who was up working on the website) heard the receipt printer printing downstairs.

Though we were both up before Steinarr the next day, I would assume any motion or commotion downstairs would be heard throughout the upstairs loft. If you’re a light sleeper, the other rooms have the more common “door” along with the same appropriations, so you might do better to choose one of these if you stay.

Dinner - quite a meal.

Breakfast was included in our night’s stay, but dinner and appetizers were not. They cost an additional $25 each, but it’s a lot of food and we could imagine that, when the Inn is packed, the entertainment and excitement created by 10 or more couples and Steinnar’s antics would make the price much more reasonable. For us (on a fixed income), it was a little pricey since it came only with one dinner guest – Steinnar himself… and we were quickly back to politics.

Our appetizer was a delicious meatless sausage with adill and horseradish dip and the main course consisted of a pork roast, salty potatoes and asparagus. Don’t look for utensils, other than the hand-sharpened knife because dinner is meant to be eaten only with your bare hands – Viking style.

The next morning, Steinnar met us at the bar for breakfast, a very good breakfast burrito with fresh basil from Steinnar’s garden. Steinnar had informed us the night before that he had to go to the cities (Minneapolis) in the morning to get some supplies. By the time we wolfed down half our breakfast burrito (huge again by the way), his friend and helmet crafter had arrived.

Steinnar didn’t ask us to leave, but since he was the only person at the Inn, we felt weird to stay and we were soon on the road again to northerneastern Minnesota.

Overall our experience was good. But I think it might have been better had we visited on a Friday or Saturday night, or could round up an entire party of friends for a weekend getaway. More about the Nordic Inn here.