The co-workers who fell in love while sharing a hotel room

The co-workers who fell in love while sharing a hotel room
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(CNN) — When Ida Skibenes pulled up in front of the Solstrand Hotel, her stomach was in a knot, oscillating between nerves and excitement.

The Solstrand is one of the most beautiful hotels in Norway, located on the outskirts of Bergen, framed by fjords and home to more than 125 years of history.

“It looks like a yellow castle, almost. It’s very pretty. And it’s a very quiet place, there’s no traffic, it’s by the sea,” says Ida. CNN Travel.

Every year, Ida’s workplace in Bergen moved to Solstrand’s dream environment for a couple of days of remote work. That year, 2014, was Ida’s first with the company. Her colleagues had regaled her with Solstrand stories and she was thrilled. But her enthusiasm wasn’t really about escaping the city and relaxing among the mountains. It was Hanna Aardal.

Hanna was Ida’s co-worker. When Ida started at the company, the two clicked quickly, but they were at different places in their lives. At the time, Ida was married and focused on her relationship and adjusting to the new job. Meanwhile, Hanna was a single mother whose teenage daughter had just moved to the US to study for a year.

But as the months passed, his circumstances changed. Ida’s relationship fell apart and she went through a divorce. Hanna adjusted to her daughter being abroad and she began to spend more time socializing with her co-workers. Over time, Hanna and Ida grew closer.

“Our energies coincided,” is how Ida puts it. “It was always more fun to be at work when Hanna was at work.”

“I think we had the same kind of humor, so we became fast friends,” says Hanna.

Hanna and Ida started working together on a fun side project, a short mockumentary along the lines of “The Office,” showing the quirks of their workplace. The film was scheduled to be shown at Solstrand’s retreat.

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

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


The two worked on the project after hours and began sharing regular dinners and drinks. They messaged each other regularly, often sending each other goodnight texts.

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

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

Ida didn’t know if Hanna would be willing to go out with a woman. And she didn’t know if her feelings were reciprocated or if they were all in her head. Still, Ida sensed that there were signs that suggested the relationship was something more.

A few weeks before the trip to Solstrand, the two of them had stayed up late at Hanna’s house, chatting. When, at 2 am, Ida suggested that she should go home, Hanna took her hand and asked her not to leave her. It felt like a “turning point”, at least for Ida. But she left anyway: they had both been drinking and she felt that the conversation had to be brought up under different circumstances.

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

“He had feelings for Hanna, and he was definitely in love with her,” says Ida. “But if it was all in my head, then I needed to clear that up. And we were going to work together. So I decided if we end up in the same room, that’s a sign for me to actually do something about it.” .” .”

Also, Solstrand was a beautiful and romantic setting.

“At least if she had turned me down, I wouldn’t be in this dump somewhere. I’d still be in a beautiful hotel,” Ida jokes.


Ida brought it up at the end of the first day at Solstrand. It was late at night and the two women were lying in their separate twin beds.

Hanna’s answer surprised them both.

“He would start to say, ‘I know we’ve become good friends and all, I love you like a friend.’ But then as he said it, I realized that of course it’s something else,” recalls Hanna.

“I was scared when he told me that,” says Ida. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. This isn’t happening.'”

After the initial shock, the conversation continued.

“We talked, we kissed. And then we calmed down and decided that we would work things out eventually,” says Ida.

The next day, Ida and Hanna were busy with a busy day of meetings and presentations. They didn’t mention what happened the night before, but it was a tradition in their company for everyone to present greeting cards to their Solstrand roommates at the end of the trip.

On Ida and Hanna’s cards, they put their blossoming feelings in writing. And Ida, excited, sent a message to her close friends with the news.

“I texted him three thumbs up, ‘We kissed!'” Ida says.

“But other than that, we kept it a secret for a long time.”

Solstrand is surrounded by Norwegian mountains and fjords.

Solstrand is surrounded by Norwegian mountains and fjords.


Hanna needed some time to come to terms with her newly acknowledged feelings.

“I had been in a few relationships, but mostly I had been a single mom and very self-sufficient in a way, and not very good at close relationships. So I think it was really scary and exciting at the same time, and confusing.” . . “

Both Ida and Hanna also knew that they were not only risking a friendship, but also a working relationship. For Hanna, this added to her fear.

“I think he was really afraid of messing things up between the two of us,” says Hanna. “Because we were working together, there would have been bigger consequences if I was wrong, which I assumed would happen, at some point.”

Ida and Hanna took it in stride, but gradually grew even closer. Six months after their conversation at Solstrand, the two were on another work trip and decided they were ready to tell their colleagues. Later, back home in Bergen, Hanna shared the news with her daughter.

“She was really happy for us,” says Hanna, recalling her daughter joking that it would have been weird to have a man in her house of girls.

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

Return to Solstrand

Ida proposed to Hanna on a return visit to Solstrand.

Ida proposed to Hanna on a return visit to Solstrand.


Hanna and Ida moved in together in 2016, shortly after they shared the news of their relationship with loved ones. They started talking about marriage and decided that when the time was right, Ida would be the one to propose.

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

Ida knew exactly where he wanted to propose: Solstrand. Three years after they first expressed their feelings out loud, Ida and Hanna found themselves back at the historic hotel at the company’s annual retreat. The company had just broadcast the traditional “mockup” of the office when Ida interrupted the process.

“She just stood in front of everyone and said, ‘There’s another video,’ and she gave me a box of Kleenex because I’m a crybaby, I cry all the time. And then she did this really sweet, romantic video with music, portraying our relationship and ending with the proposal”.

Wiping away tears of happiness, Hanna said yes.

“It would have been very awkward if I hadn’t,” he jokes today.

Hanna (left) and Ida got engaged at the Solstrand hotel and married in Bergen in 2022.

Hanna (left) and Ida got engaged at the Solstrand hotel and married in Bergen in 2022.

Ida Skibenes

“I was very nervous,” recalls Ida. “Maybe I told a couple of people before we went, but five minutes before showing the movie, I ran up and told everyone.”

Her colleagues were delighted and encouraged a panicked Ida to try it.

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

“It felt really good to do it in that hotel with those people, because they’ve been with us through the whole journey of our relationship. So it was exciting and a lot of fun. Especially the part where we get to celebrate with so many people who love us and want us to be together.” let’s be happy.”

After some wedding plans were postponed due to the pandemic, Ida and Hanna tied the knot in the summer of 2022. The long-awaited ceremony took place outside in a Bergen park near the couple’s home.

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

embark on 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 together. When Ida left the company a few years ago, her colleagues gave her a gift card for a romantic weekend at Solstrand. The couple hope to return and hope to one day celebrate 50 years of marriage at their favorite hotel.

Hanna and Ida describe their years together so far as a “fascinating and fun ride.”

“It’s been this feeling of having your best friend there, all the time. Like, whatever happens, you have your best friend, and it makes you feel like things are eventually going to work out,” says Ida, who adds that becoming into a stepfather has also “changed his life” and taught him a lot.

Hanna says that she also learned a lot from Ida.

“Ida is very brave,” says Hanna. “She is much wiser than I am when it comes to relationships and emotions. And she is very brave to dare to speak up when the going gets tough.”

“We became close very quickly and we have this total trust in each other, so we can be ourselves. I’ve never been in such a close relationship before and it changed my life in so many different ways. And also having a partner who also love my daughter and being a family, a bigger family.”

Top photo of Hanna, right, and Ida, left, courtesy of Ida Skibenes

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