Oslo, Norway – The hotel that we would like to talk about today is called The Thief. The name will perhaps conjure up images of dark deeds or remind one of an almost sleuth-like identity but you would be going in a vastly wrong direction. This is Oslo’s first luxury design hotel and possibly the gem in all of Scandinavia’s design hospitality scene, and definitely no small-time criminal.
It is also named for justifiably good reasons. First of the reasons is borne of geography. The neighbourhood that it is situated in is called Tjuvholmen or “Thief Islet”, the tiny peninsula it shares with Oslo’s newest and most important contemporary art venue, the Astrup Fearnley Museum. It is so-named for being a former den of small-time criminals (including thieves of course) and also the place where they met their end (hanged) back in the 18th century. Second of the reasons is borne of (art) history. It alludes to recent art thefts, including the high-profile pilfering and recovery of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, housed in another museum not too far away. Third of the reasons may be borne of its credo- to steal your heart away through the unique experience it offers by staying here.
Fast forward to the 21st century, Tjuvholmen became one of Oslo’s most important urban regeneration and renewal projects, and is Norway’s answer to New York City’s Meatpacking District or Melbourne’s Docklands. It is now a pedestrian-only area full of art galleries, wide boulevards and is connected to the charming harbour-front area of Aker Brygge. In an interview done with Design Hotels, a carefully curated list of hotels that promise guests an authentic experience infused with life and culture, of which The Thief is a member of, naturally, its owner, Petter A. Stordalen, proclaimed “[he] wanted The Thief to lead the way in the redemption of the area—or as [he] like[s] to phrase it, ‘The New Oslo’.” The above-mentioned Astrup Fearnley Museum is housed in a Renzo Piano masterpiece housing works by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. Naturally, all hotel guests get complimentary access to it with their keys.
On arrival, a Gormley cast-iron statue (Draw) with a certain avoirdupois greets you, literally on all fours (it is said to be facing Mecca- talk about being truly culturally sensitive on approach), upon your arrival at the art-stuffed lobby which includes a Warhol painting (Ladies and Gentlemen), a Niki de Saint Phalle's steel-and-polyester sculpture (Le Grand Rossignol) and another sculpture by Tony Cragg (Subcommittee). Its rooms are all decked out with contemporary works, albeit by lesser-know artists but its crown jewel chambre, the Oslo Suite, shines with works by the esteemed English pop-artist Sir Peter Blake. All in all you know your on-premise artistic experience is assured when the collection is curated by Sune Nordgren, former director of Norway's National Museum of Art.
The on-site restaurant, Fru K, is no fruitcake when it comes to décor and cuisine. It is a nod to the “Mod-Nor” movement that is gaining momentum amongst the increasingly gastronomically adventurous locals with dishes such as venison with fondant potato and poached turbot with Jerusalem artichoke. The terrace also happens to be one of the trendiest spots in town too if the to-be-seen scene is your cuppa, and with heartbreaking views of the famously majestic Oslofjord, one might be forgiven for slighting the crowd.
In all, one gets the drift- this is a proud and chic contemporary of its arts institution cousin next door, and by no means that feckless, young artist who tries too hard. It is easy for someone with a net worth of $1.2 billion who owns more than 170 hotels (under the Nordic Choice Hotels) to be tempted to go over the proverbial top as we have witnessed so many times before to excruciatingly gaudy ends but not this billionaire. He keeps with the true innate sense of Scandinavian understated-ness by making the art the focus and sneaks into your more refined consciousness by keeping service intimate and relatable, which invariably makes for a truly classy result that is The Thief.
Landgangen 1, N-0252 Oslo | + 47 24 00 40 00 | website | fr USD360 for a Superior Room