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The Broom Suite
It always seems to come as a surprised to us highly reticent, self-effacing Britons that other nations dig us – especially since we are a nation of inveterate travellers, always off on our long weekends and citybreaks to escape Broken Britain™.
But dig us they do, and the latest place to show its Britophilia is the Thief Hotel in Oslo, which has just unveiled two suites which it describes as “a homage to British design, art and culture”. Luckily there’s not a Union Jack inside – this is sleek, classy and understated Britain on show.
One is, fittingly, called The Brit Suite, and is entirely furnished with hand-made Conran (as in Terence) loot. The other is The Broom Suite, which gives the furnishings over to Lee Broom, this latest generation’s Conran, for his first hotel project. British photography and art by Bryan Ferry (yeah the real Bryan Ferry) and Sarah Hardacre complete the Anglocentricity. As you can see, this is sleek and stylish Britain on display - not a Union Jack in sight.
One of the suckiest parts of traveling is, well, the actual traveling: the getting from one place to another; specifically the airport to the hotel. At the far north Norwegian ice hotel Kirkenes Snowhotel you can take advantage of a more entertaining (and probably cuter) service than the usual transfer options, by using the hotel's own dog taxi service.
The just launched service is thought to be the world's first of its kind. Eight Alaskan Huskies transport guests from the Kirkenes Airport (one of the most northerly airports in the world) to the Snowhotel. Guests are provided with a thermal suit to keep them warm during the ride, which lasts around 45 minutes -- probably depending upon the dogs. All the huskies come from the hotel's own pack of 80, who also take guests on dog-sledding trips during their stay.
Oslo's hottest hotel, The Thief, isn't protesting the Olympics, but it is showing its support for Principle 6, a campaign to uphold the Olympic idea of inclusion and underscore Russia's anti-LGBT discrimination.
For the entire length of the Olympic Games, the hotel will be projecting a video at its entrance called "Russian Kiss," which is a sexy, music-video-esk short that features couples of all different backgrounds -- notably gay, lesbian, and interracial -- sharing some sugar.
"While Norwegian athletes are entering the podiums in Sochi, we are putting human rights on the agenda at The Thief," Owner Petter Stordalen said.
Our brother site, Jaunted, did a running series last week about its pursuit of the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle of Norway, and now it's our turn to recommend a base camp for your expedition.
We know an "expedition" to the "arctic" to "track down the Northern Lights" doesn't sound like it would be a comfortable venture, but allow us to introduce you to the Svinøya Rorbuer, a rorbu cabin property located in the harbor of Lofoton, a fishing town.
What's a rorbu cabin? It's a tradition Norwegian hut, built out over the water, typically on docks or poles, as accommodations for fishermen (those interested can learn more here). Svinoya Rorbuer offers one to three-bedroom cabins with a kitchen, living and dining area, and multiple baths.
As you can see from the photos, they offer both ocean and mountain views and are located between the fish landing station and the fish-drying racks, the latter of which is shown in the cover photo and a huge part of Norwegian culture (check out Jaunted's fascination with them here).
Given that Oslo is considered to be one of the world' most expensive cities for American travelers, we were surprised when we saw that its average hotel rate was lower than that of New York City. And it appears it's not just hostels dragging down the average -- we found three pretty solid hotel options in the city center with reasonable rates. Turns out, a room in Oslo won't cost you an arm and a leg.
The Thief: We did a big write up on this luxury hotel when it opened last year. It is easily one, if not the, nicest hotel in the city (think lights that turn on automatically when you walk into the room). The name comes from its location on an island once referred to as "Thief Island" in reference to its tendency to harbor seedy loiterers. Rates start at $274/night, but the most common rate a few months out was $323/night.
Oslo, along with the entire country of Norway, has a reputation for being one of, if not the, most expensive destinations in the world for travelers. Currently, one dollar will get you about 6 Norweigan krone, which seems like a positive conversation at first, until you realize that a beer costs 70 krones!
But, interestingly enough, according to its tourism board, the 2013 average daily hotel rate (ADR) in Oslo was $212 –- $69 less than the 2012 ADR in New York City, which was $281 (complete 2013 data has yet to be released). And remember that rate in Oslo includes breakfast and Internet, which we know is rarely the case in the Big Apple.
Hmmm... Given the high-priced reputation of the city, that’s surprising, don’t you think? Maybe the city, when approached correctly, doesn’t have to be a burden on your budget. Next week, we’ll dig deeper into Norway's capital and take a look at the options on a larger scale. Stay tuned!
Harry Styles of boy-band One Direction was the subject of an aggressive hugging barrage by a few fans while he was exiting Oslo's $2,175-a night room at the Holmenkollen Park Hotel. Taylor Swift's-ex was taking the intimate attack in stride and even reached out to hug the woman back, but the Norwegian security team shut it down when another girl came out of nowhere to get her some love, too. They quickly ushered him on to his tour bus and sent him on his way.
Apparently One Direction has so many problems with over-eager fans (and ex-girlfriends) they're said to be hiring President Obama's security team for the US portion of their Take Me Home World tour which begins in June.
Man, the life of a boy band member is super hard, huh?
[Photo: Daily Mirror/Video/YouTube]
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On January 9th in downtown Olso, Norway, a former 18th-century prisoner colony became the country’s first waterfront hotel. It’s name? The Thief . Seriously, we don’t make this stuff up! The moniker goes back to the days when criminals were brought to the island just off the coast called Tjuvholmen, nicknamed "Thief Island". Today, you’ll find art galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants, and funky shops along this Scandinavian city’s mile-long waterfront. What won’t you find? Cars. So the primary way of getting around is via foot or bike--the popular local way.
And it’s your feet that’ll lead you to the modern 119-room hotel which is a member of Design Hotels. There are nine-floors at The Thief, including a penthouse suite, that affords panoramic views of the city. Add that and the rooftop terrace and we have a feeling no one will be longing to escape these quarters.
With early snowfall in Colorado and Utah last month, we gave you a rundown of some awesome ski deals. But for killer winter views that differ slightly from your typical (après-)ski resort, we're directing your attention to Norway today, specifically, to Juvet Landscape Hotel on the country’s southwestern coast.
Taking its name from the Norwegian word for ravine, this tiny hotel is about an hour flight from Oslo, followed by another 90 minute drive from Ålesund airport. You can drive to Juvet over the Trollstigen trail, regularly listed as one of the most beautiful drives in the world, and the immediate environment includes Geirangerfjord, a Unesco World Heritage site.
In the wilds of the fjords of Norway, travelers braving the hiking and biking trails (or driving RVs around the winding roads) will every so often catch a glimpse of a tucked away hotel, silently calling out like an oasis, We recently came across one of these lovely little properties at a stop along the famous Flåm Railway, just before reaching the high town of Myrdal, Norway.
The Vatnahalsen Hotel is popular with families and outdoorsy types, in the area for a night or two while continuing fresh air adventures through the lush Norwegian countryside, dotted as it is with waterfalls and mountains. When Vatnahalsen is at its busiest, the hotel also plays host to catered meals for cruise ship passengers docked in the lower fjord town of Flåm.
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As this last week of 2008 is prime time for best-of lists, The Times of London has released a list of twelve hotels which tip their scales in terms of hotness. Looking ahead to 2009, the list of newcomers includes everything from the Juvet Landscape Hotel in the backwoods of Norway to the Missoni Hotel of Edinburgh and the Dubai Armani Hotel, set to occupy the first 37 floors of the Burj Tower.
Considering the diversity of their choices, hotel openings in 2009 are guaranteed to be a hoot. We mean, who doesn't want to check out the Sassi di Matera Albergo Diffuso in Basilicata, Italy, with its 18 rooms with modern conveniences set inside natural prehistoric caves? Or how about the next venture from the man behind London's famed Conran Shop? Terence Conran is planning to open Boundary, a restaurant with a few rooms in Shoreditch.
Scanning through the various delights to come in 2009, we are most enthralled by the Le Gray, coming to Lebanon's capital city Beirut. From the man behind One Aldwych in London and Carlisle Bay in Antigua, the new 80-room Middle Eastern hotspot will grace the city's scene with a rooftop pool and minimalist furnishings. The Times then drops the bomb on future plans for development: "If Lebanon seems an odd location, the next is even odder: the Falkland Islands." It's another perfect reason for us to head to the middle of nowhere.
If you're planning a blow-out luxury trip for late in 2009, reading this article will help you book the newest and most-hyped hotels around the world. But if you're like the rest of us who simply daydream about the ability to do as much, you can at least add a few of these hotels to your list of places to sleep before you die.
[Missoni Hotel room prototype image: Skyscraper City]
If you're sick of the standard Paris, Cabo, or Vegas trips, consider heading out to the Svalbard Archipelago of Norway -- specifically to the island of Spitsbergen, a former base for whaling in the 17th and 18th centuries, now settled by both the Nords and the Russians.
It's in the Arctic Circle, so there's continuous sun from April to August -- and according to its Wikipedia entry, "November to the end of January there is civil polar night, where it is so continuously dark that artificial light must be used 24 hours each day."
It's also home to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. In the event of a doomsday scenario, the world can re-sow all of the world's plant life from a cache of seeds, currently being held in an secure underground cavern.
So when you're there, whether dogsledding, snowscootering, climbing glaciers, exploring ice caverns, fossil hunting, reindeer spotting, or checking out the Russian settlements, cozy up at the Basecamp Svalbard Spitsbergen.