Summit Bar at hotel Radisson Scandinavia in Oslo. Photo: Herman Dreyer
Summit Bar at hotel Radisson Scandinavia in Oslo. Photo: Herman Dreyer


Hotels are taking on the attractions

Amazing architecture and first-class food now mean that hotels are competing with the traditional attractions of the cities they serve. Would guests rather stay in their room?

The Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel at Holbergs plass in Oslo has been given a facelift. You’ll notice as soon as you enter through the copper-framed revolving door. The slightly dated interior has been replaced with low seating groups and a large selection of books. There are smart little reception desks where you can check in. Or perhaps don’t check in. Because you can come here just to enjoy the fabulous fish soup with halibut and scallops at the new restaurant, 26 North. Or shoot up to the Summit Bar on the 21st floor for a cool cocktail and a view with the wow factor. The bar was given a refresh in 2016 and as you sit in one of the sofa groups you can now see almost all the way to Denmark.

“We wanted to provide greater variety for the hotel guests staying with us,” says Tomi Meriläinen, hotel manager of the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel. “At the same time, we wanted to create a place that is part of the neighborhood and the city; somewhere the locals will also think is a great place to visit.”

And they’ve succeeded.

“Since we opened the bar, the number of guests has increased month on month.”

Snøhetta is the architect firm behind the redevelopment and improvement of the Summit Bar.

Hotel manager Tomi Meriläinen says that the Summit Bar at the Radisson Scandinavia in Oslo is also popular with people who aren't staying at the hotel.

Positioning and development

Innovation Norway registered 4.1 million tourist arrivals in Norway in 2016, an increase of 12 percentage points on 2015. Hotels can help to promote Oslo as a destination, as Meriläinen tells Scandinavian Traveler.

“Many tourists come to Norway to experience nature and for the mountains and because of its cleanliness and its reputation as a safe place. Several areas of Oslo are now also undergoing redevelopment, such as Tjuvholmen and Bjørvika. Grünerløkka is already hip and trendy. Many of Oslo’s hotels are also working to position themselves and I believe this can help to make visiting the capital seem even more attractive.” 

Siri Løining keeps an eye on the hotels market.Hotel buff and writer Siri Løining says that the stiff competition among hotels has also helped them to compete with the attractions in the cities they serve.

“We already have hotels that are destinations in themselves,” Løining tells Scandinavian Traveler. “Just look at Juvet Landscape Hotel. It has unique architecture and staying where you feel at one with nature is an experience in itself. Or Farris Bad, which is one of Norway’s biggest spa hotels. You come here for the town of Larvik, but because the hotel offers its guests something unique. Thon Hotel Kautokeino has been built to enable guests to experience Sami culture and is a fantastic place to discover the natural scenery of northern Norway. Manshausen, south of Lofoten, where the modernist cabins designed by Stinessen Arkitektur contrast beautifully with the landscape, is another example.”

We can look forward to several new hotel openings in the capital in the near future too.

“Clarion Hotel The Hub will be the largest hotel in Norway when it reopens following renovation. Others set to open are boutique hotel Amerikalinjen at Jernbanetorget and Clarion Hotel Bjørvika. Hotel Continental, Thon, Scandic and several smaller hotels are currently being renovated. The Thief is upgrading its roof terrace and turning it into a year-round restaurant. All of which makes Oslo a very attractive city in terms of its hotels.”

Young people are particularly keen for hotels to feel authentic.

“Millennials are more explorers than tourists. If they can identify with the brand, or if the hotel is Instagram- and Snapchat-friendly, they may choose it before they have even looked at what the destination itself has to offer. They like to share pictures of the lobby, view or room. The hotel’s use of technology can also help to attract guests. One example of a hotel that has adapted to this market is Aloft.  Here, guests can order room service using an emoji, name and telephone number.”

The Juvet Landscape Hotel may not be in a town but the hotel itself is well worth a visit, with its spectacular architecture and natural location.

Putting guests first

Hotels are there first and foremost for their guests though. Meriläinen draws back the curtains of the hotel’s penthouse suite. It has a lounge, dining room, kitchen and two bathrooms, while in the bedroom the bed is positioned so that guests can enjoy panoramic views of Oslo and the fjord.

“I’ve slept here once. It’s a beautiful sight to watch the sun go down and the lights come on. And then waking up in bed and seeing the daylight return. Hotels used to just offer a bed to sleep in and a good breakfast. Now that we’ve added new features, guests have every reason to spend even more time here at the hotel.”


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