A floating hotel. An art enclave. The January 2013 opening of The Thief on a piece of land reclaimed from the water on the island of Tjuvholmen, Oslo’s urban renewal hotspot, was exciting news for both the capital and the country. While Norway doesn’t use the star system for rating hotels, so it’s generally considered that there are no true five star-standard hotels in the country, the Thief changes that.
The first thing to address is the hotel’s curious name, inspired by the fact that criminals were brought in the 18th century to Tjuvholmen, then known as Thief Island. Today, the area is a pedestrian friendly zone of galleries, upscale residences and some fantastic restaurants. But the real place to steal away for visitors (sorry, we couldn’t help it) is within The Thief’s cosy interior spaces adorned with art. Each of the 119 guest rooms features a singular stunning piece on loan from the nearby Astrup Fearnley Museum – perhaps a black and white photograph of Kate Moss by Bryan Ferry or, in the case of the ultra-luxe Oslo suite, a collection of collages by pop artist Sir Peter Blake.
The welcome tiny added touches continue too: digitally animated portraits by Julian Opie in the lifts, and in the rooms: sensor lights, a Geneva sound system with iPhone hook-ups, Nespresso machines, and gorgeous bespoke throw blankets by Røros Tweed that just invite you to curl up and gaze upon the icy fjord, perhaps even from your balcony.
In the second floor restaurant, Fru K, Norwegian fare like reindeer, cod and scallops is given an international presentation during candle-lit dinners. Note, too, the Warhol hanging on the far wall.
Come summer, there’s a pebbly beach near the museum where you can swim in the clear fjord waters and a heated pool and full spa is planned to open in late 2013. The rooftop Champagne bar set to debut come summer will surely be Oslo’s swankiest alfresco watering hole. It’s true that Norwegian style has been making its mark on the world for quite a while, but no home country hotel has ever felt quite this indulgent.