For my final trip of 2013 I ventured north to the Norwegian capital, Oslo. I knew little about the city before arriving but I expected cold weather, cool design and expensive prices. These predictions were all proved correct, but there is so much more to discover in this unique city and after three days residing here I felt passionate and protective about Oslo, a Scandi capital often overshadowed by Stockholm and Copenhagen.
The Thief hotel is reason alone to visit Oslo. Just a year old, this luxurious design-led hotel bravely breaks boundaries and offers something entirely new. Located on the waters edge in the trendy new Tjuvholmen district, it is the creation of Norwegian billionaire, Petter Stordalen. Once just a humble strawberry seller, he now owns in excess of 170 hotels, of which The Thief is his most ambitious and prestigious yet. Back in the 18th century the city’s thieves were hung here, but after an unrecognisable transformation the area is thriving for both business and pleasure.
This hotel is all about the art. Walking into the beautiful lobby, I found the staff welcoming but discreet, the interiors indulgent and the artwork second to none. As a sponsor of the new, neighbouring Astrup Fearnley Museum, Thief guests have the advantage of seeing the collection for free (access is granted with your room key). The collaboration works both ways and in return art lovers are encouraged to visit the hotel, the art pieces on display here are rare, valuable and exciting. At the door an Antony Gormley figure pleads at your feet, once you enter you are greeted by Richard Prince’s impressive lithograph ‘The Horse Thief’. Step inside the lift only to realise that gigantic animated Julian Opie faces are blinking at you.
Wandering round within the precious art encrusted walls (which carry the highest hotel insurance in the world), it is obvious to see why every celebrity visiting the city chooses this accommodation. In the restaurant Fru K, Warhol’s famous ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ is casually hung on the wall, the other side houses a menacing sparkling skull by Damien Hirst. But it is not all glitz and big names, The Thief has a carefully chosen selection of lesser known works, for example the moving triptych of videos of Three Somali sisters by conceptual artist Charlotte Thiis-Evensen, also in the dining area. The top Oslo suite on the 8th floor is entirely dedicated to the work of Peter Blake, indeed he was the first guest to stay here. Here his beautiful pieces give the room its own special personality, I particularly adored the photographic portrait of legendary Norwegian ice-skater Sonja Henie, with crumbs of diamond dust to accent the ice, Blake’s inventive addition. Mega rich super celebs can stay here with all their entourage in the adjoining sections.
The style and modern sophistication is continued in the standard bedrooms, which vary in size and layout. We were given a Superior room with a small balcony overlooking the Fjord. The ochre yellow and charcoal grey colour scheme is unusual and striking, with a funky wall decoration and specially designed Thief woollen blanket covering the bed. Numerous velvet pillows are arranged on the amazingly comfortable Hilding bed, for ultimate comfort. A small seating area was perfect for reading by the window and the desk and wardrobe were functional and cleverly arranged. The room was cosy but had plenty of space to relax, and was well equipped with all the necessary gadgets. Free wireless internet and complimentary movies on demand were highly appreciated features. A Nespresso coffee machine and well stocked minibar are ideal for late night snacks and early morning caffeine calls. Those needing a retail fix will love the in-room shop, a drawer filled with quirky items, like Moods of Norway accessories and Smile Lab beauty goodies.
The bathroom was much lighter in look, clad in white and slate coloured marble. There is both a powerful rainforest shower and bath within the large room. Towels are provided in grey and white, I thought perhaps suggested for him and her? Lovely Parisian toiletries come courtesy of Carita Paris, and the extra plush bathrobes are designed by Maggie Wonka.
We enjoyed a splendid breakfast each morning in the dark and lavish Fru K dining area. The staff ensure your every request and desire is attended too, we had the off-menu French toast flipped in cinnamon and served with crispy bacon. Orange juice is extra sweet and continental options are very fresh and tasty. For those with business in mind there is a private dining area that doubles up as a creative meeting space, this is enhanced by the original Roxy Music album cover images.
A place of wonder and intrigue, The Thief is a mecca for art and a palace for guests desiring luxury accommodation in Oslo. Norway is known for its coffee, cutting edge and cool design and cleanliness but never before has there been an opening as exciting as The Thief. A sign of things to come, Oslo is a very promising future destination.
More information and book a stay at The Thief here: thethief.com/en