This weekend I had the pleasure of staying at this historic hotel in one of Oslo’s most desirable areas, Frogner.
Much of Frogner was built around 1900 as homes for the Oslo elite. It still has an air of affluence today, thanks to its central location, nearby parks, great transport links and stunning architecture. Frogner is known for Frogner Park, home of the Vigeland Sculpture Park and Frogner Manor, now home to the Oslo city museum. The area also plays host to many embassies, with the UK, Austria, Russia, Poland, Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Venezuela, Brazil, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all represented.
Opposite the hotel is the beautiful Frogner Kirke (Frogner Church), an impressive granite and brick building from 1907 and still a functioning church today.
Despite being slightly west of the city centre, the hotel is well situated for a number of purposes:
- Work– The business parks of Lysaker and Fornebu are a short bus or taxi ride away
- Sightseeing– Vigeland Sculpture Park and the museums of Bygdøy are easily accessible
- Shopping – Many exclusive boutiques and independent shops are in the vicinity
Arriving at the hotel is easy as it’s within walking distance of the city centre for anyone moderately fit. However, this weekend the temperature in Oslo plummeted to -16C, so public transport was our savour! The 30 and 31 buses from Jernbanetorget and Nationaltheatret are very regular and stop outside the hotel (Frogner Kirke stop). A few minutes walk away is the number 12 tram (Elisenberg stop), which quickly connects you with Vigeland Sculpture Park, Majorstuen and Aker Brygge.
The exterior of the hotel is visually stunning:
Check-in was a breeze, at which we were warned of a problem with the lift, where it kept returning to the top floor rather than the ground floor! The maintenance service had been called and it didn’t prove an issue as we made our way up to the fourth floor, before descending to the third 🙂
The first thing we noted about the room was the lock – it required a real key! None of this electronic card nonsense where you’re stuck in the hallway for ages trying to insert the card at the right angle or speed. Hotels take note – real keys are great!
Inside, the room was spacious. A couple of comfy chairs and a table created a lounge area, with the TV on a swivel stand so you could see the screen comfortably from either the chairs or the bed. The room was slightly dated, but the old furniture and main lights that took a few minutes to become bright just add to the feeling that you are staying in such a historic building.
There was a fantastic balcony and I just wish the weather had been slightly warmer to allow us time to enjoy it, rather than just rushing out to take a photo!
The channels available on the TV were limited, but enough (primary Norwegian channels, a couple of Swedish channels, and CNN). Other facilities in the room included a wardrobe, decent sized desk with drawers, a hairdryer, a minibar and snacks, and a kettle with selection of Twinings tea and instant coffee. There was no iron but an ironing room is available in the hotel.
The bathroom was small compared to the size of the bedroom, but this didn’t really pose a problem. It might have been useful to have an extra towel rack, however. As expected there was a good selection of toiletries, replenished each day, and a really powerful shower.
Vitally important for nerds like us, the wifi supplied by Telenor was super fast. I was easily able to surf while Gerry held a Skype video call with his family on the other side of the world.
A good night’s sleep
A new feature Rica is rolling out across its hotels is the Pillow Menu – yes, you can order a softer or firmer pillow from reception if the one supplied isn’t to your liking. The menu comes complete with a guide on getting a good night’s sleep (in Norwegian) and – I assume related to this – I was asked at reception in the morning if I’d had a good night’s sleep. A nice touch 🙂
The Rica Hotel Bygdøy Allé partners with the Egon restaurant on the ground floor of the building. For those unfamiliar with Egon, it is a popular restaurant chain throughout Norway, known for its big portions and rough wooden interiors. I would compare Egon to the Harvester chain in the UK. Breakfast is served in Egon exclusively for hotel guests, after which the restaurant opens its doors for normal service.
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Egon. I find their food of variable quality and slightly overpriced for what it is. So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that we made our way down to breakfast!
But to my delight, there was nothing to worry about. On offer was the typical continental style buffet, with fresh bread and bread rolls, a great selection of cold cuts, a decent amount of hot food, and endless amounts of tea, coffee, juice, milk and water.
The staff were attentive and friendly, and although some of the decor was dated, it is perfectly in keeping with the style of the hotel. We enjoyed our stay at the Rica Hotel Bygdøy Allé and highly recommend it as an ideal hotel for business travellers heading to Lysaker/Fornebu, or tourists who seek a central location with pleasant surroundings.
Disclosure: Our stay was courtesy of the Rica Hotel Bygdøy Allé. However, all hotel reviews on Life in Norway are independent and free of any influence from the hotel itself.