One of the best-known hotels in the Norwegian capital.
I recently moved house! As anyone in rented accommodation knows, timing your move can be difficult. You want enough time to comfortably move but equally you want to avoid paying rent on two places at once.
I had arranged to move out of one place on the Friday but wasn't able to move in to the new place until Sunday, leaving a weekend gap. Despite numerous offers of sofas, I decided to splash out on a hotel for a couple of nights to help negate the stress of moving, and persuaded Gerry to join me.
As I booked a month in advance I was able to get a good deal on many premium hotels in Oslo, so I plumped for one of Oslo's four Radisson Blu hotels, a brand I know and like from my time in the UK. Here's my verdict…
Radisson Blu Scandinavia, Oslo
Holbergs gate 30
Despite being the oldest of the four Radisson Blu hotels in Oslo, it's not the most well-known. The iconic “Plaza” hotel that towers above the central train and bus stations takes that crown, partly due to its shiny exterior and partly due to it being the tallest hotel in Northern Europe.
Having said that, at 23 floors the Scandinavia is pretty easy to spot too. Upon arriving at the hotel we were greeted with the unnerving sight of the hotel surrounded by barriers with armed guards standing watch. After hesitantly approaching a guard all was well, for it seemed we were to share the hotel with none other than Hilary Clinton! Once we got inside check-in was a breeze in the spacious lobby.
The room was small but functional, with two very comfortable beds, two armchairs, a desk, TV, hanging space for clothes and a minibar. The bathroom was again small but there was room for a bath with a powerful shower head.
I prefer a separate shower, but a powerful shower is the most important thing and Norway seems to do this well. There was a decent selection of complimentary toiletries from Anne Semonin that was topped up each day. Some of these now sit nicely in my new flat 😉
Being up on the 18th floor, the room came with a great view! It was a view of the city rather than the fjord, but that mattered not to me, there was still plenty to see. The only niggle with the room was the climate control, which seemed to be stuck on cool air conditioning. This wasn't a problem at first but once or twice over the weekend the room felt a little chilly.
Breakfast is always good in the big brand hotels in Scandinavia and this was no exception. The sheer variety on offer was staggering, from fresh bread and rolls to egg and bacon, from fresh fruit and vegetables to pastries and cereals. Fantastic. But (isn't there always a but?) the service inside the brasserie left a lot to be desired.
The staff (aside from the friendly host at the door) were rude, almost pushing someone out of the way to refill one of the trays and snapping answers at people questioning where to sit or where to get coffee from. The service elsewhere in the hotel was very good, from the barmen in the Sky Bar to the cleaning staff, so it’s a shame those on the breakfast shift let the side down.
A quick shout-out to regular Life in Norway reader Odd Helge, who we joined for a drink on the Saturday night. He blogs about opera and Italian culture over at the Odd Pavarotti blog!
The highlight of our stay was visiting the renowned Sky Bar on the 23rd floor. The fjord views are stunning and even in the heart of the city you can see how green the city is. I could've stayed up here for hours just staring out of the window, but one Daiquiri was all I allowed myself, even though the prices were surprisingly reasonable for a premium hotel – I've paid more for a cocktail in London.
Upon “checking in” to the Sky Bar on Facebook, a friend commented to insist I visit the gents bathroom. Normally I would question such an instruction, but in I went, to be greeted by the best view I've ever had whilst taking a leak!
What do you think!?
Checking-out was slow with 6 people in front of me and only 2 of the many desks open, one of which manned by a trainee, but it was in the final hour of check-out so I didn't mind too much, especially as there was a coffee bar in the lobby. Check-out itself was painless as the room was pre-paid.
The Radisson Blu Scandinavia is a good choice for Oslo city centre and almost worth a stay just for a visit to the Sky Bar. However, the service in the breakfast room and dodgy air conditioning were enough to mean that next time I have a need for a hotel stay in Norway, I'll give somewhere else a try, especially as I'm still to try the other big brands such as Rica and Scandic.