Destination Guide


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Courtesy of Visit Oslo

Tucked away at the tip of the Oslofjord, Norway’s capital could aptly be described as both a large village and a small city. It is Europe’s fastest-growing capital, but just beyond the rapidly developing city center are miles of uninterrupted forest, 40 islands and 300 lakes—teeming with Norse mysticism, adventurous pursuits and the regal Norwegian fjords.


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Facade - The Thief, Oslo, Norway

The Thief

A prison island in the 18th century, Tjuvholmen was infamously known as “Thief Island” until its gentrification in the 2000s. Now a burgeoning neighborhood filled with galleries and boutiques, Tjuvholmen was solidified as one of Oslo’s most exciting urban spaces when The Thief hotel opened in 2013. Overlooking the fjords, the cutting-edge hotel is the top choice for visitors interested in architecture and looking to stay in one of Scandinavia’s most innovative design districts.

Set just a block from the Astrup Fearnley Museum (guests of The Thief receive free entry), the 118-room hotel resides within a Cubist-style curved building, and contains an impeccable art collection, which was curated by the former director of the National Museum. Pieces by Andy Warhol, Richard Prince and Antony Gormley are hung casually throughout public spaces and the dining outlets, and upon-request art tours are offered for those who wish to learn more about the hotel’s collection. The hotel crowd is undeniably glamorous, and past guests have included Rihanna, Bill Gates and Steven Tyler.

Accommodations are plush and moody, with a deep, mostly grey color palette, shag rugs, loads of pillows on each room’s king bed and bold original art lining the walls. Woolen blankets and extra large towels enhance the cozy atmosphere, but the rooms are undeniably modern thanks to the futuristic furnishings and high-tech features including heated floors and motion-sensor lights in the bathrooms. The ten suites are individually appointed, and offer a range of styles from demure to over-the-top. The Eske- and Terence Conran–designed Brit Suite has a playful 1960s-inspired style with soft white light fixtures and cobalt blue furniture, while the Apparatjik Suite (designed by the eponymous music group) is as wild as it gets, with disco balls hanging from the ceiling and the option to project the image of one of the band members on the bed so guests can “sleep with the stars.” Each room features a private balcony with a great view – whether you are facing the Oslo Fjord or neighboring buildings, the charm of Tjuvholmen is undeniable.

Onsite amenities include the Foodbar for all-day Scandinavian fare and two bars—one on the rooftop and offering fabulous views (though somewhat lackluster food), the other next to the restaurant serving craft cocktails. (In the warmer months, the restaurant relocates to the indoor/outdoor space on the rooftop, overlooking the fjord.) The spa and gym are some of the best in the city; the gym is open 24 hours with several cardio machines and a small weight training room. The hotel also has three Riva boats for guests.

Suite at Hotel Continental, Oslo, Norway

Hotel Continental

One of the city’s oldest hotels, the Continental occupies an entire block opposite the National Theater in Oslo’s historic center, just a few minutes’ walk from the main street, Karl Johan gate. Opened in 1900, the hotel’s building was originally owned by a brewery company, but changed hands in 1909 when a local couple took over ownership (the hotel remains in the same family today). Unsurprisingly, the grand hotel’s best attribute is its friendly, personalized service.

The 131-room and 23-suite property has a classically grand lobby with antique chandeliers, elaborate gold mirrors and a buttoned-up doorman, who ushers each guest into the hotel. The lobby bar, Dagligstuen, is worth popping into to see the privately owned collection of paintings by Oslo’s most famed resident, Edvard Munch. The décor in the accommodations is a bit more modern that the public spaces (most of the rooms were renovated recently), and, while lovely, unfortunately lack in personality; the rooms feel a bit like those at any grand hotel. The furnishings are done in a neutral color palate of mostly creams and grays, with the occasional pop of lavender or orange in the headboard and decorative pillows. The best rooms are the Junior Suites above the Theatercafeen because they boast large outdoor terraces that overlook the National Theatre. The bathrooms feature cream marble flooring and Molton Brown toiletries.

The Continental has five dining venues on property, but the most notable is Theatercaféen, the hotel’s iconic café that has been open since 1900. Gym enthusiasts will be disappointed with the meager exercise facilities, but those itching to work up a sweat can follow the running path around the city or purchase a discounted pass to the gym next door. (While there is no spa, the concierge can arrange in-room massages.)

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