Still a newcomer in industry terms (opened in 2012), the Thief already feels established as the natural place to stay in contemporary Oslo. Sitting proud amongst the modern manmade marvel that is the Tjuvholmen peninsula, meaning ‘Thief inlet’ due to its history of piracy and skullduggery, the Thief encapsulates this city’s never ending quiet evolution.
With an art collection to rival any hotel in the world, the Thief could easily be in the heart of a host of cosmopolitan cities. Yet, there is also something so beautifully understated about the experience that makes it most at home in Oslo, a city known for modest, inconspicuous excellence. I wonder how many guests, stepping out of a taxi or having wandered from the metro, notice at first the Anthony Gormley statue nested just outside the door to greet them. There are spectacular things all around, just don’t expect a spectacle.
Despite being a beating heart of Oslo’s contemporary image, the Thief gives everyone and everything space to breath, in-keeping with the country as a whole. “People always tell me they sleep so well here; there is a tranquility that is difficult to find in other places”, says Dominic Gorham, the Guest Relations Manager. It’s true. Despite being in the heart of a capital European city, there is a sense of serenity to be found here, built not by natural isolation but by smart design.
We stayed for three nights with Florrie, our almost six-month-old daughter, and found the staff and facilities family friendly and welcoming. One more night and I think we would’ve tried their baby sitting service, a nice touch for parents looking to steal an hour or so to explore all that’s on offer.
Besides the big hitters, discreetly woven into the fabric of the place, there’s a host of other collections covering art, music and literature dotted throughout. Leaving aside the Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, Damien Hirst pieces, I grew fond of the original Roxy Music Album covers, hidden away on the walls of one of the private meeting rooms. You’ll never be short of small talk as you wander around this place, with inspiration everywhere (even in the lift, with video installations from British artist Julian Opie).
As well as the art, which would take days to get around by itself, the hotel boasts (well, let’s you discover at your own pace), a gorgeous restaurant on the 2nd floor, a cocktail bar near the lobby and a rooftop space with stunning views of the city.
Arriving at the Thief Bar, we’re introduced to the house cocktails programme, which all pay homage to the key pieces either hanging around the hotel or in the adjacent Astrup Fearnley museum, again a testament to just how integral art is to this experience. The execution of this integration is flawless, avoiding any gimmicky pitfalls, with every member of staff we spoke to proud to talk about the relationship between the artists in a straightforward, passionate manner. The ‘beautiful, amore, gasp’ cocktail, a tribute to the Damien Hirst’s spin art that hangs in the restaurant, uses Absolut Elyx, Cocchi Americano, Creme de Cacao, Salted PX Sherry topped with a homemade white chocolate swirl, to capture the playfulness that Hirst himself says inspires all his spin arts. Done insensitively that could feel pretentious or contrived. Here, it just feels right. “We want everyone in the team to be themselves and to show why they came here from all around the world to be part of The Thief”, says Felice Capasso, the Bar Manager.
Likewise, the Thief Restaurant, intimate and seductively lit, seamlessly weaves art and design into the surroundings. Without an extravagant menu, the kitchen, which sits openly in the middle of the restaurant, serves a collection of carefully curated and considered dishes, celebrating Norway’s natural produce. We had the scallops with apple and cauliflower and the Mushroom barley risotto, (the chantarelles locally foraged by the staff). Both, a proud showcase of the earthy flavours of a country known for its wilderness. Steak served with a myriad of sides and a more delicate monkfish dish followed, finished with the white chocolate mousse and a pistachio macaroon, alongside excellent wine pairings suggested by the team.
The Thief Spa, in its own adjoining building, offers all the experiences you would expect and more; a secret tunnel, lit in green immediately sets the tone for this secluded ambiance. “We take pride in our intimate atmosphere, and steal you away from everyday life” says Simon Gomez, the Spa Manager. And you really can see that straight from the first moment you walk into the Thief Spa. In a country that celebrates natural purity, with locals still continuing their weekly Fjord dip even though we were staying in the midst of November, the Thief Spa does its best to continue the tradition. Here, they only use organic products from all around the world including iKOU, Babor and Sesderma (any special occasions coming up need this iKOU Body Buff immediately!). The orange and jojoba full body scrub and deep tissue massage was a real treat, especially post-pregnancy (!), the heated waterbed being the icing for me to finally switch off and fall asleep. After the treatment, I could genuinely feel my skin breathe, feeling completely rejuvenated and exfoliated. I was shown a host of their organic products from Australian brand iKOU, and may have treated myself to a few of their gorgeous products all created with the finest raw ingredients, active extracts, antioxidants, and vitamins.
For a hotel with so much to boast about, what is most alluring about the Thief is that IT doesn’t. It lets you in to discover at your own pace, offering helping hands and suggestions as you go. And most exciting is that they have plans to do more, both with the Thief and with new ventures in the next few years. “We’re always wanting to do more, to keep pushing and keep dreaming”, says Dominic. I can’t wait to see what’s to come.
Katy Hulands is a travel and lifestyle blogger and social media consultant for the hospitality sector. She started the Unwrapped Series to uncover those special places (and things) that deserve the spotlight.