Life in a Norwegian Quarantine Hotel

Home » Expat Blogs » Life in a Norwegian Quarantine Hotel

Thousands of people arriving in Norway these last months have had to stay in a quarantine hotel. Here's one person's experience.

Norway's strict entry requirements have forced many travellers into a quarantine hotel. Life in Norway contributor J Alex West describes his experience of staying in one after a 30-hour journey back to Norway.

Man in a Norwegian quarantine hotel

A tale of quarantine

On the fifth of June, we entered quarantine in Oslo. Prior to arrival, we had to pay 4,200 kroner for quick-result Corona tests to obey Norwegian entrance laws:

‘The test must have been taken in the last 24 hours prior to arrival in Norway. For persons arriving by air, the test may be taken in the last 24 hours prior to the scheduled departure time of the first leg of the flight.'

Hotel quarantine was mandatory for us as travellers coming from almost-COVID-free New Zealand, as it is a nation outside the EEA/Schengen area.

We applied to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration well in advance for a ‘strong welfare consideration' and requested we be allowed home-quarantine for the sake of our three-year-old son following 30 hours of travel.

Oslo Airport

It was only when we landed and spoke with a Norwegian border official, that we were informed that a ‘non-response' was a ‘rejection-of-application.'

Quarantine hotel in Grünerløkka, Oslo

At the hotel in Grünerløkka, there was a single baggage trolley available for all the detainees coming from the bus, so it took some time to get our gear to the eleventh floor.

Our room was without air conditioning, fan, or fridge – three single beds crammed side-by-side, our bathroom containing a small sink, cubicle shower and toilet.

The current law at that time allowed hotel occupants to wander outside for up to four hours. We were instructed that we could go inside shops only for medicine and necessities.

The sun was out, and amidst the loosening of Oslo restrictions, Grünerløkka was heaving with people having a good time.

Street scene in Grünerløkka, Oslo
A previous street scene in Grünerløkka, Oslo

‘No more than two persons in the elevator' was written on an A4 sheet in the lift. As the door closed, a hand dipped into the elevator triggering the censors to open the doors fully.

Two men shuffled in, chatting to each other as I backed up. They pressed 9 and 10.

Food in the quarantine hotel

On Day 4, I was given sliced ham, sliced cheese, and sliced bread for the third consecutive breakfast. This was to be breakfast for the entire quarantine, with the occasional addition of boiled egg or Nutella and cream cheese.

In polystyrene takeaway containers, dinners were comprised of pasta, burger cutlets, boiled and fried potatoes, chicken, and salads – each meal with an abundance of red onion. 

Portions were generous and without the complements of herbs and spices. As we could not refrigerate our food, we had to throw a lot out. Not fans of fizzy soft drink, we accumulated 60 bottles of Fanta, Coke and Sprite to take back to our home and eventually serve to guests.

Daily walks and jogs along the crowded Akerselva path allowed for welcome breaks from the hotel. The staff did not assume I could speak English, so I embraced all opportunities to speak and practice Norwegian.

Grünerløkka on a clear winter day
A clear day in Grünerløkka, Oslo

One morning, I entered the lobby. The security guard was distracted by his phone. His mask dangled by string around his ear and when he noticed me from the corner of one eye, he hurriedly put his mask on properly.

Hot drinks were available for guests 24/7.

‘Can I have tea,' I asked the receptionist. 

‘Wait one second. I have to put water in the kettle.'

The receptionist returned after a few minutes.

‘Thank you.'

An early exit

We took tests on day seven. On day nine, we received negative results. Released twenty-four hours early, we left the hotel and headed home, having handed over the nine thousand kroner hotel quarantine fee.

Read more: The Ten Rules: A Personal Experience of Janteloven

Like so many returnee residents to Norway who have endured hotel quarantine, we will not be able to contribute to small local businesses trying to get back on their feet as restrictions are loosened this summer, which is a great pity – but we simply can no longer afford it.

About J Alex West

New Zealand born and of Hungarian and English background, J Alex West lives a quiet life with his partner and son in the Lambertseter area south east of Oslo City. He enjoys reading and writing, as well as exploring the outdoors. He occasionally works construction jobs to fund his writing habit, and in 2021 released his second set of essays 'Banish the Thinker'

Norway Weekly Subscribe Banner

7 thoughts on “Life in a Norwegian Quarantine Hotel”

  1. Hi, thanks for this information! Did you get to choose your hotel for quarantine? Or was one assigned to you? If it’s the former, is there a list of quarantine hotels? I have been scouring through blogs and websites and have not been able to find any information. My parents are going to be entering Norway in the next week. Thank you!

  2. Hi Sanjana,

    As far as I know, quarantine rules have now changed and it is no longer compulsory. Though with borders open, and many Norwegians abroad at this time of the year, I assume they are likely to change again. I no longer make predictions, as the rules alternate so often.

    To answer your question about choice re hotel – no I had no choice, I was put on a bus and sent to my hotel.

    All the best to you and your parents, and I hope they have a pleasant stay.

    Jameson Alex West

    • Hello Jameson, Thank you so much for posting this. We are really in the dark about travel for our (I’ll add, fully vaccinated) daughter to folkehøgskole in the North from the US. Were you tested both in the airport and at the end of your stay? My daughter has 4 flights to get to Oslo, so it will take quite awhile…so to understand…if she gets tested right before her first flight…that will suffice? Does the hotel arrange the test at the end? How do they let you know to come for the test? Thanks again for posting information about the hotel. It is really helpful.

      • Hi Lisa, I just read your thread – since your daughter is fully vaccinated and as long as the US is not listed as a ‘red country’ (check fhi.no and check the map), I believe your won’t need to quarantine.

        For example, my sister and I came from the UK (both Norwegian citizens), but had to take a rapid antigen test upon arrival since we came from a ‘red country’, although we took a test prior to arrival. We were put on a bus and were not informed where we were going or which hotel we were going to. At the hotel you will need to quarantine there for 3 days – but the day after you arrive you will be able to sign up for a PCR test (the hotel arranges this) which you would take on the third day. In my experience, we got a call from reception to let us know when to queue for our PCR test.

        Results would usually come the day after the test was done. Depending on the result, you with be either exempt (negative) or not exempt (positive) from the isolation hotel. Also, there is usually a representative from the commune that stays at the hotel every day from 8am-6pm for questions which we found extremely helpful.

        In the case that you do test positive, you will be sent to a isolation hotel for 10 days, but can be released if you test negative during your stay. Personally, I had a good experience at the quarantine hotel but the isolation hotel is a completely different story. We have been misinformed several times and have had to speak with multiple representatives from the commune of Oslo with 0 luck.

        Just be wary and make sure to speak with the commune in which your daughter will be staying in, or perhaps reach out to the US embassy in Oslo for further guidance if all else fails. Hope this helps!

      • Hi Lisa,

        Gia has answered most of your questions with her well thought out response. As I mentioned, I’ve given up trying to predict or calculate rule changes, and instead will live a quiet life and see what happens…for now (or for who knows how long).
        Just be persistent when dealing with authorities, as my experience, and the experience of many others, is the constant response of ‘I can’t answer your question, that’s not my department’s area’ – keep prodding!

        Thanks for reading the article, and I’m glad you got something from it. All the best to you and your daughter.

  3. Hi,
    I’m getting anxious after reading all the comments about quarantine hotels. I’m gonna need to work remote all the stay. Is there a good WiFi acces? Thanks in advance


Leave a Comment