It is hard not to associate design with Scandinavia. Simplicity, minimalism, functionality and durability are the main features of Scandinavian design, which emerged in the 1920s and became synonymous with good taste in mid-century modern aesthetics from the 1950s on.
Since then, Scandinavian design has become recognized all over the world, and “Designed in Scandinavia” is akin to “Made in Germany” in terms of quality and tradition.
Way beyond what meets the eye, design is not only employed in decorative items, but in every kind of object created to facilitate our daily life and consequently make it more enjoyable.
So what about an onsite experience in Oslo, for example? Though the Norwegian capital might seem like a less obvious destination, when considering other Nordic capitals like Copenhagen or Stockholm, Oslo is a great place to take a deep dive into Scandinavian design. The city exudes art at every turn and it’s the only one in Norway with a design hotel: The Thief Oslo.
Located in a newly renovated part of town called Tjuvholmen, a district once infested with criminals and now a hub of contemporary architecture and art, amid pedestrian-only streets and squares, the hotel stands near the harbor, surrounded by canals and enjoying spectacular views of the Oslo Fjord and neighboring red brick buildings.
The renowned contemporary art museum Astrup Fearnley, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is adjacent to The Thief and it’s no coincidence that the works of art on display inside the hotel are borrowed from the museum’s collection. On top of that, guests enjoy free access to the museum!
The Thief Oslo is a lifestyle hotel, employing sustainable practices with a focus on local products. As it should be, the 116 rooms, distributed throughout the building’s eight floors, have Scandinavian furniture, as well as bed and bath linens by Norwegian designers. Each suite is decorated with works of art from the Astrup Fearnley Museum. They also have private balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows.
And because waste does not fit with Norway and its worldwide reputation for renewable energy, the rooms are equipped with an automatic lighting system that only functions when guests are present.
The hotel restaurant is outstanding and deserves a post of its own! In addition to offering a splendid breakfast buffet (included in the daily rates) with a selection of fruits, smoothies, breads, jams, yogurts, cheeses (be sure to try the “brunost,” a brown cheese that’s a jewel of Norwegian cuisine!) and items such as scrambled eggs prepared on demand right in front of guests, the restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner. During our stay there, we followed the Meatless Monday theme for dinner and opted for a vegetarian starter and main course, but the seasonal menu’s biggest hits are made with seafood, another Norwegian specialty.
For a starter, the beetroot mousse with hazelnuts, parmesan and slices of pickled yellow and red beets, was visually beautiful and also delicious, as was the main course: butter roasted celeriac, kale, pickled turnips and celeriac cream.
The Thief Spa is located inside an adjacent building that’s accessed through a panoramic lift and an underground passage decorated in shades of blue and green, evoking the fantastic colors of the aurora borealis. In addition to massages with organic Moroccan rhassoul clay, the spa has an indoor pool, sauna, steam room and hamman. The steam sauna is a delight for the eyes as well as the skin: at the center of the enclosed room, the water evaporates through a large heated and illuminated crystal. And to top off the dreamlike scenario, the ceiling is speckled with tiny bulbs, creating the effect of a starry sky.
But well-curated design with prime aesthetics would be worthless if the quality of the service was not up to standard. So it goes without saying that no other hotel in Oslo offers the combination of comfort, design and attention to guests found at The Thief!
Landgangen 1, 0252 Oslo, Norge
M: +47 24 00 40 00 | F: +47 24 00 40 99