Praised for the purity of its coal, Svalbard developed a mining industry in the 1930s, although most shafts trailing from mountain slopes have since been abandoned. Only one is still in operation but historical sites remain, including the miners’ former barracks which have been transformed into an affordable guesthouse.
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It’s hard to imagine a town the size of Longyearbyn has suburbs, but 2km from downtown, at the base of a valley, sits Nybyn, where a mining community once thrived.
Spread between several buildings which once provided a roof for workers, 75 simple but practical single and double rooms at the Coal Miners' Cabins offer extremely good value for money. Sleeping areas are private although bathrooms are shared, while the availability of laundry facilities and kitchen space can also help reduce costs for anyone preferring to spend money on experiences rather than stays.
Communal areas invite guests to share stories with one another, while a Bar & Grill – where breakfast is served – is a meeting point for Longyearbyn’s locals. An excellent selection of well-priced burgers dominates the menu, and locally brewed Svalbard Bryggeri beers are also on tap. Slip shoes off at the front door, as is customary in these parts, and pose for an obligatory selfie with the bar’s resident cuddly polar bear.