Exploring the Norwegian capital from two of its best hotels- pop-up saunas and all
Camillas Hus, Homansbyen
What’s striking about Oslo’s Royal Palace, a neo-classical building whose buttermilk-yellow façade dominates the sloping parkland of Slottsparken, is how close you can get to it. A few members of the King’s Guard and a low-slung rope are all that stand between the monarch’s residence and those of us strolling through the tree-lined lawns that surround it. The palace gardens are dotted with ponds and bordered by large mansions- so it’s also a surprise to spot a pair of wood-panelled Swiss chalet-style house dating back to 1845 tucked away to one side of the park. Together, these make up the seven-room hotel Camillas Hus. Slightly incongruously, they sit next to a bustling coffee shop and- even more curiously- and outpost of LA fitness studio Barry’s Bootcamp. As Lycra-clad locals puff past with workout mats, we slip into a world of four-poster beds, chaises longues and chandeliers. The hotel is named after Jacobine Camilla Collett, a nineteenth century feminist writer and an early tenant of the residence. Our antique-filled suite, which still has a patch of the original décor, is historic and elegant, yet homely. I soak in the claw-foot bath in the vast cream-tiled bathroom for what feels like days.
Breakfast is served in the chalet next door, a restaurant called Park29, where a feast of breads, jams and meats, rich smoked salmon and locally made berry cordial sets us up for scouring the city on foot. First, on the recommendation of the hotel’s charming maitre d’, we we soak up the morning sun on Aker Brygge wharf, the waterside strip bars and cafés where Osloites gather to gossip over coffee and ice cream. Then we scale Akerhus Fortress, snapping the tall ships in the harbour, and finish the day by strolling to the opera house via a pit stop at the pop-up bar and sauna Salt. We enjoy the Norwegian beer immensely, but leave the communal steaming to the locals.
Oslo Guldsmeden, Vika
Oslo Guldsmeden might not have curb appeal- it’s wedged between residential blocks not far from a motorway tunnel- but this popular three-star hotel, the first in Norway to be awarded Green Globe certification, is handily close to the piers, where you can buy an Oslo Pass to putter round the fjords peaceful islands on a ferry. While the frontage has a distinctly 1950s feel to it, inside the hotel is eco-friendly Norway- meets- Bali and supremely comfortable, with four poster beds whatever your room size, and an abundance of fur throws and woven rugs. Families, lone travellers with laptops and well-heeled couples all appear at the buffet breakfast. The hotel’s own little herb garden supplies its organic restaurant, Le Manon, and a small spar in the basement (steam room, sauna, a pair of loungers) is a welcome perk.
Amy Bryant writes for The Telegraph Magazine