Bergen has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. What is it about Bergen? The enticement of the fjords, the candy coloured buildings on the harbour, the Viking history? Whatever the reason, it had been staring at me on my list for years, so when I booked a short break at the opulent Opus XVI on Norway’s west coast, I was excited, to say the least.
Fjords cruise scheduled, airport transfers sorted, TripAdvisor consulted, I arrived at Bergen Airport on a gloomy day in late autumn, but the grey skies didn’t get me down – I was in Bergen! Bucket list! Exciting!
Opus XVI welcomed me like a celebrity, red carpet and all. The front entrance brought me into a stunning grand hall with towering marble pillars and luxurious furnishings. The building was originally designed and built for Bergen’s largest bank in 1876, and has since been extended twice – the most recent addition being designed by architect Schak Bull, architect of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s Bergen residence ‘Troldhaugen’, who also happens to be his cousin.
The hotel’s close ties to Grieg are celebrated in style, with references to the 19th-century musician found scattered all over, offering guests a taste of the composer’s remarkable life and unique story as part of the one-of-a-kind experience that makes Opus XVI so spectacular.
The 65 luxurious rooms are each individually designed with modern interiors, but with a classic touch. Some rooms enjoy views towards Mount Fløyen, some look down over the quiet plaza of Vågsallmenningen, but whatever room you’re in, you’ll find luxury and comfort.
Speaking of comfort, I can’t help but mention, the bed at Opus XVI was hands-down the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. Ever. It was so comfy that I had to remove the sheets to investigate the brand, and since coming home have opened an ‘Opus XVI bed’ bank account where I put away some pennies each month so I can have one at home. Although the fjords were calling, I almost missed the boat because I didn’t want to get out of the glorious Opus XVI bed.
Mattress aside, my room was oozing with class, with muted colours, dark cabinetry, gold accents, tall windows and sumptuous textures. The marble-tiled bathroom had everything I could want (heated floors, cosy slippers and dressing gowns, Molton Brown toiletries), and the minibar was stocked with a fantastic array of snacks and drinks. I’m a sucker for a good coffee, so the in-room Nespresso machine – with an impressive variety of coffees – was more than welcome.
One of the greatest things about Opus XVI is its location; in my humble opinion, there isn’t a better hotel within such close proximity to what Bergen has to offer. A 5-minute stroll will bring you to the pier for a fjords cruise, to the famous fish markets, to plenty of museums, to the Fløibanen funicular, and of course to more cafés and restaurants than you could ever visit. I recommend Baker Brun along the picturesque promenade on the harbour for a traditional Skolebrød (coconut and custard filled bun).
The Bryggens Museum, a 10-minute walk from the hotel, is worth a visit. Particularly interesting were the display drawers filled with Norse runes. Another must-visit attraction is the Fløibanen funicular, which takes you up to the top of Mount Fløyen. The views are spectacular (even on a gloomy day), and the walk down through the thick, mountainous forest will give you endless waterfall photo ops, and takes you right back to the city centre.
After a day of sightseeing, treat yourself to dinner at Opus XVI’s restaurant: the aptly named Restaurant XVI. Boasting inventive dishes using fresh seafood and local produce, the menu’s starters, mains and desserts all looked absolutely divine; from the butter-cooked langoustine with smoked pepper; to the thyme and butter roasted monkfish tail with caramelised plums, bacon and goats’ cheese. For dessert, I enjoyed the Pear Belle Helene – a modern take on the classic poached pear and chocolate dish – a perfect ending to an exquisite meal.
And the food doesn’t stop there. The breakfast, oh, the breakfast! The colourful fruit buffet, pastries (and macarons, for breakfast!), delicious pastries, a phenomenal spread of meats and cheeses, and really great coffee, were good enough for royalty.
Being thoroughly impressed with the room, service and meals, my favourite experience at the hotel was just relaxing in the lounge, sipping a cocktail or a coffee, savouring the atmosphere in magical Bergen. One thing in particular that Opus XVI does so well is make you feel like you don’t have a care in the world, that time doesn’t matter, that you’re welcome to stay, or go, and come back again, at any pace you wish. I’d say that’s exactly what a short break should be.
Sometimes, you find yourself in a moment, knowing you’re having an experience that will stay with you forever – and that’s exactly what my experience at Opus XVI did for me.
Address: Vågsallmenningen 16, 5014 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 53 01 22 00