Norway’s best hotel isn’t in Oslo. It’s not even in Bergen. It’s somewhere you might never have heard of—yet.
We can’t blame you if you’re not familiar with Trondheim (though surprisingly, it’s Norway’s third-largest city) but we can promise you’ll want to discover it now. In addition to its iconic harbor, lined with yellow and red homes, it’s a gateway to northern Norway and has a growing culinary scene. But maybe the best reason to go is not an attraction—it’s a hotel. The historic Britannia Hotel, reopened after three years of renovation, is so impressive it made Fodor’s top 100 hotels of 2019. Here are all the reasons it’s putting Trondheim on the map.
It Combines History and Modern Luxury Flawlessly
Britannia is superb at honoring the old and embracing the new. After a three-year renovation, the 5-star hotel reopened in 2019 but maintains the same venerable spirit from its first opening in 1870. Classic gold, marble, and brass touches speak to its bones, yet modern details like a touchscreen-operated elevator deliver all that you would expect of a 21st-century hotel.
It’s a Gateway to Norway’s Natural Wonders
The hotel is well situated to explore Trondheim, which you’ll find is worth a trip in its own right. You can take a Viking-inspired boat ride through the harbor and into the fjords at sunset, grab a coffee at one of the cozy cafes in the neighborhood of Bakklandet, and visit Nidaros Cathedral, the world’s northernmost Gothic cathedral. You can eat daring dishes at Bula, from the winner of Norwegian Top Chef, or Michelin-starred meals at Fagn and Credo. When the conditions are just right, you can even see the Northern Lights here. But Trondheim is also well connected for adding other stops in Norway, too: If you fly here with Norwegian, you can add a stop in Oslo on the way over or on the way home. You can also head north to Tromsø, where you can experience the midnight sun or Northern Lights. Or, take the train to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site Røros, just two-hours away.
The Rooms Are Peak Hygge
Sure, hygge is a Danish word that describes that intangible feeling of coziness and well-being, but it’s embraced by all of Scandinavia. There’s even a “How to Hygge” lounge in the Oslo airport. So, it’s not surprising that the rooms at Britannia are the picture of Scandinavian elegance, yet also warm and inviting. If you want to go all out, book a signature suite. The spacious rooms have comfy couches, Hästens mattresses, and a white Carrara marble bathroom with a shiny brass tub. And we can’t speak for you, but we get really excited when we see a grand fireplace, little snacks, and a TV that ascends from the foot of the bed.
You Can Eat a 10-course Meal in a Hall of Mirrors
Part of Britannia’s strength is its diversity of restaurant concepts, but the most memorable of all is the fine dining at Speilsalen—the “Mirror Hall.” The menu is a carefully crafted play that takes you on the journey of Chef Christopher Davidsen’s life, from his “very humble beginnings” (an amuse bouche topped with caviar) to “a poor man’s fortunes shifted” (an impressive monkfish entrée) and on, and on, and on. Ten courses and five hours later, you’ll start to see why Chef Davidsen has been awarded a Bocuse d’Or silver medal, and why the restaurant could be set to receive a Michelin star in February.
There’s a Champagne Made Just for This Hotel
Nothing says luxury like a house Champagne—it’s not exactly something every hotel has. That’s why it’s special that Britannia teamed up with Champagne Ayala to create a crisp Champagne cuvée that complements the hotel’s freshness and elegance—and it’s only served here.
The Breakfast Is Insanely Gorgeous and Scandinavian
Half the fun of the breakfast at Britannia is the setting: the stunning atrium of Palmehaven, lined with palms and a starred ceiling, was restored to look like it did in 1918. The other half is eating what Scandinavians eat. The buffet includes everything from brunost (brown cheese) to reindeer heart and honey straight from the comb. It also hosts afternoon tea on Saturdays.
You’ve Never Seen Anything Like This Cocktail Menu
Each signature cocktail at the atmospheric Britannia Bar has a back story inspired by the long history of Trondheim. Even more impressive, they were all verified by historians. The “Origins,” for example, with barrel-aged gin, chartreuse M.O.F, red apple, beet sugar, and Britannia Champagne tells the story of the hotel’s founding—and only uses ingredients available back then. The “Smoke” cocktail and “Journey,” served in a pirate ship, are showstoppers, but it’s not just smoke and mirrors that’s selling these cocktails—Mastermind (and Head Bartender) Øyvind Lindgjerdet perfected them over months.
The Wine Bar May Open a Rare Bottle for You
“Wine bar” doesn’t really paint the whole picture at Vinbaren. It’s also a wine cellar that happens to house one of the best wine collections in all of Norway, with 10,000 bottles and 200 wines by the glass. They open special bottles for their guests from time to time, like a rare Henriot Cuvée on World Champagne Day.
The Spa and Fitness Center Are Well Worth a Visit
All spas seem to emulate Scandinavian spas, but Britannia Spa truly is one, with a relaxing array of massages, an infrared sauna, and a plunge pool. And, while I normally don’t partake in vacation workouts, I couldn’t help but try out the Tabata class–that’s a high-intensity interval workout available to hotel guests. It will definitely get your blood flowing.
The Hospitality Is Amazing
I try not to say this a lot (because what hotel shouldn’t be hospitable?) but the service here is really something special. The team of doormen, drivers, and waiters all seem to have some kind of personal connection to the hotel and will get to know you by name. But you can also feel the care that went into the re-opening of this hotel—the owner, Odd Reitan, dreamt of owning this hotel since he was 14. It took $150 million dollars and three years to restore it to its former glory, but in the end, no detail was left overlooked. The result: you can sense the pride in the walls, in the way only somebody’s dream-come-true can.