If Old Oslo is Edvard Munch, then New Oslo—as represented by this two-year-old hotel in Tjuvholmen, Oslo’s newest neighborhood—is Andy Warhol. Like the island on which it’s built, the Thief rises out of the blue waters of Oslo Harbor, a beacon of the city’s commitment to art and culture in the 21st century, as surely as venerable hotels like the Grand and Continental (a kilometer and change to the north) are anchors to that of the last century. Bedecked with sculptures, paintings, and more esoteric modern art installments (such as the grandfather clock in the lobby that weaves a golden yarn scarf at the rate of one stitch every hour), the Thief could almost be considered a museum.
But outstanding art collection aside, the Thief is a hotel, and an exceptionally cool one at that. Rooms are all designed with comfort, style, and entertainment in mind. King-size beds with extra pillows and down duvets are standard in all rooms, as are top-of-the-line espresso machines, Geneva sound systems, Wi-Fi, and 42-inch HD TVs with movies on demand at no additional charge. Bathrooms are equipped with waterfall showerheads and massive designer bathrobes that almost make towels superfluous.
Because of the Thief’s unique location, each room is blessed with an amazing view of the surrounding fjord, making the hotel (especially its rooftop bar) a popular spot for photographers.
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Neighborhood Vibe Everything about the Thief is pure New Oslo, including its location in a neighborhood that wouldn't have been found on a map 20 years ago (let alone in Ibsen’s day). The hotel (along with the cutting-edge Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, admission to which is free for hotel guests) sits on a newly-built man-made island with incredible views of the surrounding bay. Two footbridges lead north to a second island filled with ultra-modern high-rises teeming with flashy shops and restaurants. Serving fresh fish and other seafood dishes in an upscale setting, Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin AS is a stone’s throw from the hotel on Tjuvholmen Alle. Past this, a distinct nautical vibe reigns at the boardwalk, on which sit seafood restaurants and docks leading to fishing boats and ferries offering year-round fjord cruises and other maritime delights.
Need to Know
Need to Know Rooms: 119 rooms. From $375 . Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The Thief’s sole restaurant, Fru-K (or Lady-K, named after a legendary local farmer), serves set menus of modern Norwegian cuisine, including the freshest catch from fisherman who’ve fished the area for generations. Expect halibut and cod (especially in the winter months), lobster in season, and salmon year-round. Fru-K’s breakfast buffet (included with all the packages) is a good mixture of healthy concoctions like fresh yogurt with berry jam, freshly baked whole-grain breads, breakfast staples like bacon and eggs, and more esoteric items (to non-Nordic taste buds, at least) like reindeer sausage and Geitost cheese. Soak up the outstanding views—including that of the iconic Holmenkollen ski jump—from the Thief Roof bar. Head up on a clear (and famously bright) summer evening, order a cucumber gin and tonic, and gaze north. Spa and gym details: Since it opened earlier in 2014, Thief Spa has been popular with hotel guests and Osloites (who get annual memberships), both of whom enjoy full access to its warm swimming pool and Finnish sauna, as well as the spa’s wide array of sensual shower arrangements combining aroma and hydrotherapy. A unique quirk in the spa’s lighting creates a shimmering ribbon of glowing green lights when the pool is viewed from inside the sauna that’s eerily reminiscent of the Northern Lights. The gym, open 24 hours, is loaded with weights, cardio equipment, and full towel service.
Who’s it for: Monday to Friday, the Thief has a strong business clientele, while on weekends it’s most popular with leisure guests. For obvious reasons, artists, musicians, and other celebrities also flock to the Thief. Our favorite room: The Thief’s penthouse suite (named the Oslo Suite after pop artist Sir Peter Blake’s art project of the same name) has its own fireplace, walk-in closet, dining room, and separate bedroom. Being a penthouse, the suite naturally offers spectacular views of both city and harbor. Though it’s not meant for sleeping, Tjuvholmen is a chill-out space dedicated to Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music), a regular Thief visitor. The room is adorned with album covers and other art connected to the band. No kidding: Displaying original work by artists including Andy Warhol, Tony Crag, Jeff Koons, and Sir Peter Blake, the Thief isn't merely among the world's most artistically inspired hotels. It’s also likely the most heavily insured.