A person’s hotel preferences can vary from day to day. Sometimes you want the best hotel money can buy. Other times, you get the best you can with a promo code for Orbitz and just hope you get something you can sleep on. But when you travel to Oslo, Norway, it’s worth paying extra just for the beautiful architecture.
Well on its way into becoming one of Europe’s major cultural hubs, Oslo is a world-class city that holds art and nature very dear in its heart. Here, artwork can be found everywhere, from ultra contemporary conceptual pieces tucked away in modern art galleries to the raw emotion of the human figures at Frogner Park, and forests, parks, hiking trails and waterfalls are never more than a short walk or drive away.
Considering the large art collection housed within its walls, The Thief’s name may at first seem like a wry joke but Oslo’s newest, trendiest and most luxurious hotel takes its unusual name from “Thief’s Island”, the prison that formerly stood where the hotel is now, and was lent most of the pieces that are exhibited within its walls by the neighboring Astrup Fearnley Museum. The hotel is an art geek’s dream come true: big names in contemporary art can be found casually hanging in many of the rooms and common areas and all of the furniture and décor pieces have all been custom-made by renowned designers from Scandinavia and the rest of the world. It’s located in the heart of Tjuvholmen, Oslo’s new waterfront arts district and is surrounded by at least five galleries, a sculpture park, the Astrup Fearnley Museum and some of Oslo’s best dining options. Inside, The Thief is dark and sexy with dim lighting and a warm palette of yellows, oranges, golds and reds set against an inky background of greys and blacks. All of the 119 rooms feature unique pieces of art, designer amenities and floor to ceiling windows with balconies overlooking the Oslo Fjord. Downstairs, local musicians are showcased in weekly events, expert mixologists pour drinks at the Thief Bar and the Thief Roof bar and one of Norway’s best chefs is in charge of the kitchen at Fru K, the hotel’s New Nordic restaurant.
Curiosities at this theater hotel include a tiny glow-in-the-dark sheep stencil in front of your bed, a gym decorated with New York-style graffiti and a giant sculpture of supermodel Kate Moss contorting into a yoga pose in the hotel’s lobby. The drama carries on into the rooms with dark grey tiles in the bathrooms and accents in deep jewel tones and rich textures in gold, velvet, brocade and fur in the bedrooms while the common areas have a clubby feel with moody lighting and a lobby lounge filled with leather seats and ottomans. This ultra chic hotel shares the building with a club, a number of restaurants and cafés and, more importantly, with Oslo’s Folketeateret, a popular venue for plays, concerts and even Broadway-style musicals.
Thon Hotel Rosenkratz
Artsy, colorful, plush and welcoming, the Rosenkratz is far from the mass-produced and generic accommodations you’ll often find in large chain hotels. The hotel is filled with luxurious contrasting furniture, colorful mosaics and fun wallpapers featuring everything from cyan and magenta brocades of birds and flowers to muted cream and black leaves. Cheerful pops of lemon yellow set against a background of greens and blues create an upbeat atmosphere while unexpected features, such as bedspreads printed with epic Mongolian saga illustrations and a jungle-themed restaurant serving Stone Age-inspired food, might just make you forget that this is actually a business hotel. It sits right in the middle of a shopping district that includes the Oslo City Mall plus a large number of dining and nightlife options.
Comfort Hotel Grand Central
This fun and colorful hotel occupies the building that formerly belonged to Oslo’s first train station and is conveniently located adjacent to the current Central Station for easy access into the city. The urban-chic rooms resemble cool New York City lofts and mix Scandinavian design with industrial touches and blown up pop art murals. Common spaces are just as colorful and feature psychedelic pop art versions of traditional Japanese art and spray-painted canvasses. The atmosphere is very relaxed and guests are encouraged to take recommendations on things to do in the city from cool and in-the-know staff members. Aimed at the tech-savvy and modern traveler; check-in can be done on a computer, rooms may be opened with a smartphone and the lobby is filled with communal tables and spaces that promote conversation and socializing.
HTL Karl Johan
Just like it’s sister hotel in Stockholm, HTL Karl Johan is a boutique hotel aimed at the Instagram generation that wants the boutique look and feel without the price tag and the social experience it’s used to encountering at hostels. Because of this HTL has a fun, relaxed and welcoming attitude that puts an emphasis on guests interacting in common spaces rather than being confined to their bedrooms. The look is upbeat and youthful and, while rooms are small, they are very smartly designed and contain everything that today’s globetrotters will need.
Radisson Blu Scandinavia
Located just a block from Karl Johans Gate and the Palace Park, the Radisson Blu Scandinavia is your best bet for being at the center of everything in Oslo. Most of the rooms take advantage of the building’s height and location and offer stunning views of the city and/or the Oslo Fjord. Standard rooms are all decorated with an “Ocean Style” theme, while the more upscale rooms and suites have a tasteful combination of greys and warm tones with fun artwork that convey an urban-chic look. At 22 stories high, you can bet there’s a bar with a view somewhere: Summit Bar offers panoramic views of Oslo from the building’s 21st floor.
Scandic Holmenkollen Park
Overlooking Oslo from a hill, the Holmenkollen Park Hotel offers its guests the best of both worlds by being close to the city yet outside of it. The main building owes its peculiar design to a style of Viking-inspired architecture that emerged at the end of the 19th century in Norway known as “Dragon Style” since of the many details containing dragons and dragon’s heads that the buildings featured. Holmenkollen Park Hotel is located Northwest of Oslo and it’s surrounded by plenty of woodlands for cycling, hiking and exploring and counts one the country’s most visited sites, Holmenkollen Ski Arena, as its next door neighbor. The Arena features an impressive Jump Tower rising more than 60 meters above the ground in a futuristic-looking diagonal wave from which you may jump on your skis or enjoy the views of the city and the fjord.