It's great to see ambitious, new hotel projects in Oslo. The Thief opened to much fanfare, as it was looking to bring a level of modern designer luxury not offered anywhere else in Norway.
The last part of that sentence is key - in Norway. Norway is not a global hub for hotel excellence. Properties are often small, spartan, expensive, and lacking in service. I'm not sure why - great hospitality in Norway tends to be found in quaint, rustic experiences close to nature, not in city hotels.
So delivering something better than other city hotels in Norway is not an impossible task. And on this level, the Thief absolutely delivers. Given their clientele, the more important question is probably - how well does it stack up against world standards for this type of hotel?
The rooms are definitely the highlight. They are simply outstanding. A good size (enormous by Scandinavian standards), beautifully designed, with lots of excellent little touches. I like the in-room shopping thing, and all the appointments were absolutely first class by anybody's standards.
Great storage space, a safe, a little Samsung tablet for browsing (not that it actually worked that well) were all welcome touches. It's the first hotel room I've been in where I actually wanted to use the tea and coffee making equipment - everything was pristine, new and extremely clean. 10/10.
Their attempts to be whimsical and quirky (like the note on the spare pillow instructing you on when to use it) are fun - they don't feel too contrived or silly. All very good.
The bed is absolutely superb - one of the best I have ever slept on. The bathroom is very modern, premium and stylish. It's easily as nice as a bathroom in any top hotel around the world, my only complaint being that our toilet flushed a little too ferociously - once or twice the water escaped the confines of the bowl (ewwwwww). I was surprised this hadn't been tested properly.
The thing that is missing is the experience outside of your room. While the elevators are very lovely and artistic, the lobby is small (pokey-small, not boutique-small) and bland - it's a surprisingly unimpressive first impression for a hotel of this calibre. There are only two desks, which just doesn't seem like enough. Waiting to check in or check out is not something guests should ever be doing at this type of hotel.
The lounge spaces are very stylishly designed, the barmen on level two were suitably skilled and service-minded.
The breakfast experience was not particularly good - arguably not good enough for a hotel of this level. Service never rose above the typical, underwhelming level of Norwegian hotel service. We sat and waited five minutes for someone to come and offer us coffee or a drink. Nobody came. We asked a staff member near us, but he was more intent on setting the table next to us than helping us. On the second request, he eventually took our order.
I asked a staff member what time checkout was. He didn't know. He said he'd ask reception, and then I never saw him again. Breakfast food was mostly very good, but a little underwhelming in terms of variety.
The point of a hotel like The Thief should be to deliver an unforgettable experience, which means more than an amazing room. They are on the right track - the rooms and the beds really are magnificent - but they need to understand that an amazing hotel experience is about the total experience, and often that comes down to going that extra step and providing amazing service.
If they can aim higher than just providing slightly better service than the other hotels in Norway, this really will be a top world class hotel. I look forward to that day.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Stepping into THE THIEF is sure to rob you of something. Something familiar and shall we say, enslaving at times. And the thing is that the hotel is so good at it… that you might not notice until the end. You suddenly find yourself engaged in a world of new impressions: cutting-edge art, architecture and world-class gastronomy.And then it hits you, what’s been stolen from you…you haven’t had a single thought about your very long to-do list, the responsibilities at home, the everyday worries. ... more less
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