Every designer-friendly city needs a boutique hotel to exude said design-iness, no? That's where The Thief comes in. Last week, the 120-room property—designed by Mellbye Architekter AS—opened its doors in downtown Oslo, Norway, near the waterfront and ground central for an urban-renewal project that has all of Scandinavia talking.
Curious about the name? It's actually rooted in history. During the 18th century in Oslo criminals were brought to the very island (then called "Thief Island") that the hotel now rests on, Tjuvholmen, now closer classified as a peninsula. Just steps from the hotel and in this up-and-coming area are car-free streets, art galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants, and eclectic shops—all the goods for an artsy stay. Next door you'll find the new home of the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, designed by Renzo Piano and only open since last fall. Its collection of contemporary art features works by Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Tom Sachs, among others.
Hung on the hotel's walls are pieces of original art carefully chosen by curator Sune Nordgren. Each room is equipped with a flat-screen television, free WiFi, down duvets and pillows by Høie, custom-made blankets from L&J (Røros Tweed), wool slippers designed by Runa Clocke, bathrobes fashioned by Maggie Wonka, a Nespresso machine, Geneva sound system for the iPod docking station, and an in-room refrigerator stocked with "best of" refreshments. Spacious bathrooms feature corian sink basins and a rainshower.
Within the hotel are a rooftop terrace wine bar and a brasserie-style restaurant specializing in Norwegian fare prepared with locally grown ingredients as well as fish caught in local waters. In-room spa treatments will have to do until The Thief's spa opens in 2014. Come summer, the beach is just 100 meters from the hotel, perfect for a stroll along the water. Or, grab a bicycle rental from the hotel and explore as the Scandinavians do, on two wheels.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo credits: Courtesy of The Thief