Norway is not known for its luxury hotels. This is largely because the Norwegian view of “the good life” is quite different from how the rest of the world sees it. Listed as some of the wealthiest and happiest people in the world, Norwegians love the outdoors and an ideal setting for them is one where they are close to nature, in the middle of the mountains, with the only sounds coming from the wind and wildlife. However, a hotel in the capital has challenged this model by giving locals and tourists alike a taste of modern comfort that is so different from the status quo it’s almost criminal.
Sitting on Tjulvholmen, which was historically a place for felons and scallywags, The Thief, a Preferred Hotels & Resorts member, immediately catches the eye with its focus on design and architecture by Mellbye Arkitekter. The focus on contemporary art continues once you step inside, the sleek furniture has been sourced by Anemone Wille Våge and the numerous paintings seen throughout the property were carefully curated by Sune Nordgren. From Jeff Koons, to Damien Hirst, to even Norway’s own Queen Sonja, guests will be spoiled for choice with the works of art that pop out of every corner of the design hotel.
Our Premium room was fresh and inviting with a colour palette that featured earth tones with fun pops of colour. The modern design elements seen throughout the hotel are reflected in the rooms as well. Geometric shapes on the headboards and textured rugs showed that The Thief did not shy away from the more traditional Scandinavian minimalist profile.
The Thief is a cashless hotel and the room showcased additional modern features such as smart lights and sound solutions and a rainshower. We also loved how the floor-to-ceiling windows and private balcony gave us an excellent view of the ships sailing on the Oslo fjord. The hotel has 114 rooms and suites ranging from standard rooms all the way up to The Oslo Suite, a penthouse suite with a private rooftop terrace, separate bedroom, dining room, and original work by Sir Peter Blake.
Breakfast became one of the highlights of our stay. Whilst familiar breakfast buffet items like granola, yogurt, and eggs were available, The Thief went the extra mile to include Nordic specialties like brunost (Norwegian brown cheese) and pickled herring. The focus on organic, local produce is crystal clear and the quality of the breakfast offering is one that guests continuously rave about.
Later in the day, guests can also enjoy dishes from the full menu such as beef tartar with elderflower, black garlic, and horseradish; roasted Norwegian skrei with sprouting tops, toasted chestnuts and caramelised bacon; and a chocolate torte glazed in cherry and topped with pistachios, chocolate crisps, and a cherry sorbet.
In a dimly lit area on the ground floor you’ll find The Thief Bar. You’re given a menu and told that you’re to pick the painting on the list that you feel most connected to. We do as we’re told and see that each painting is paired with a corresponding bespoke cocktail. The “Beautiful, Amore, Gasp…” I pick is a Damien Hirst number and its corresponding drink arrives in the form of an Absolut Elyx with Cocchi Americano, cacao, citrus, and salted PX sherry. My husband’s Untitled (Cowboy) by Richard Prince translated into a ginger-infused Buffalo Trace, Lagavulin 8, Smoked Porter beer, honey, aromatic bitters, and bacon.
“You should see it in the summer—it’s absolutely packed!” exclaims Dominic Gorham, The Thief’s guest relations manager. Gorham and his team have ensured that the roof deck is not only a great place to get a fresh air and enjoy a bird’s eye view of Oslo, but with DJ sets and a regular rota of artists, it has also become a true destination for nightlife and entertainment in the capital. He sits with me for tea and we talk about how he got involved with the Nordic Choice Hotels Group owned by Petter Stordalen, life in Norway, and what’s next for The Thief.
The Spa can be accessed via a lift straight from the rooms. Taking inspiration from around the world, guests can enjoy a Turkish hammam bath, a Moroccan clay treatment, or any of the various massage and beauty treatments on the menu. There is also an indoor cove for swimming, a gym for those wanting to stay in shape, and if you’re brave enough, the Oslofjord is right outside should you want to take an icy dip.
What to do
All guests receive free entrance to the neighbouring Astrup Fearnley museum, considered one of the landmarks of modern art. Tjulvholmen also has a number of other museums and galleries such as Galleri Brandstrup, and Galleri Haaken. Aker Brygge, with its pier and outdoor restaurants and bars, is also a short walk away. Further more, nearby downtown Oslo provides attractions like the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo Opera House, and Frogner Park.
Rooms can be booked from £330pppn.