What better way to escape the ominous arrival of my 50th birthday than to jet off to Oslo and lock myself away in the seriously chic Design Hotel, The Thief.
We have stayed in two other Design Hotels in recent years: The Hotel Urban in Madrid and the Nobis Hotel in Stockholm. Both hotels exude quality and style in huge measures. The Thief, young whippersnapper that it is, having only opened in 2013, is already stealing people’s hearts with its contemporary architecture, luxurious furnishings and stunning waterfront location.
Its owner, billionaire Petter Stordalen, has a passion for art that has made this hotel truly unique. A collaboration with the new Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art next door has enabled Stordalen to acquire many superb pieces which adorn public areas as well as bedroom walls.
An Antony Gormley figure can be seen just outside the entrance; a £1.7m Andy Warhol painting looks down on diners in the Fru K restaurant; and in the lifts, Julian Opie’s huge, colourful video installations blink at you in a rather unnerving way as you travel up to your room.
|Breakfast in Fru K restaurant with Andy Warhol painting.
The lobby is vast and yet there are quiet corners where the lighting is subdued and the sofas are squashy and inviting, ideal for reading a book, having a coffee or a game of chess. All the furnishings are, naturally, very chic but are comfortable and seductive at the same time.
|The Thief’s lobby and lounge area|
The bedrooms are stunning with the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in. Wooden floors, thick rugs and warm blankets are unmistakably Scandinavian but the rich red of the wardrobe interiors and the chocolate brown and gold walls give a nod to somewhere steamy and hot. It’s a very sensual room.
The Thief doesn’t just provide a mini-bar, it has an eclectic selection of items it reckons its guests might want to purchase: socks, underwear, tights, nail polish, cuff-links with tractors on them, a shirt and discreetly packaged condoms. If all that Norwegian fresh air has exhausted you, however, the turn-down service offers a flask of hot water and a Night Time organic oatflower, lavender and limeflower tea to aid sleep. The thick, ultra-soft, mink-coloured bathrobes are divine: never before have I coordinated perfectly with a room while wearing a dressing gown..
|The Thief bedroom|
The main restaurant, Fru K, was closed for a few weeks during the summer when we visited so we weren’t able to try it out but it’s seen as one of, if not the best restaurant in the city. At least we were able to have breakfast there and experience its enveloping chairs while enjoying an extensive Norwegian buffet and freshly-made cappuccino.
We didn’t manage to make it to the spa either but I gather it has brought together the best of Turkish, Moroccan and German rituals in surroundings influenced by the Norwegian landscape. I can imagine this would be the perfect way to spend a day in the dark winter months but as the temperature outside was a balmy 25 degrees plus, we made the most of the long summer days and evenings outside.
The Thief is located in Tjuvholmen (Thief Island), an area notorious for crime in the 18th century. Now it’s part of a rejuvenated waterfront, with restaurants, office buildings and apartments, all sharing modern, striking architecture. Although it’s an excellent choice for a business hotel, The Thief is perfect for leisure breaks as the ambience is very chilled: people saunter along the board-walk and sit outside at the numerous restaurants looking out into the harbour. In the hotel, all rooms have balconies, so there’s a definite feeling of being on holiday. Deluxe rooms have a view through to the fjord.
|View from balcony of Room 510
Service is unstuffy but attentive. Our only complaint was a faulty TV which we reported but had to contact reception again after nothing had been done after a day. But this was minor. Who needs to watch what’s happening in the real world when The Thief has transported you to another world of luxury and decadence.
Disclosure: We chose The Thief Hotel for our celebratory break but negotiated discounted rates in return for a review.