First opened in the golden age days of the 1920s, Hotel Bristol retains a hint of the hedonistic Oslo lifestyle of the inter-war period. Few other Norwegian properties can reel off such a long list of musicians, politicians and writers to have graced their bar while the leather armchairs and secluded alcoves of the library still conjure an atmosphere perfect for creative, philosophical and political discussion. Perfectly located for sightseeing, and with a selection of luxurious and characterful rooms, this is certainly the most charming hotel in Oslo.
The Bristol Grill, the hotel’s restaurant, has the look of an English country club about it, the oak-panelled walls overlooked by a menagerie of hunting trophies and an arsenal of antique weaponry. In spite of the ambience, roast beef and chicken tikka are sadly absent from the à la carte menu, which instead offers a menu of seasonal Norwegian dishes alongside some international favourites. The salubrious Bristol Bar provides classy cocktails in a similarly English setting, while snacks can be enjoyed amidst the archaic charms of the Library Bar or funky Hambro’s.
The rooms and suites here are remarkably different from one another in style – some use light and bright colours to enhance the perception of space; some are livened up with vibrant upholstery, others are styled in sombre tones and others provide a grandiose curtained canopy under which to sleep. As a general rule the larger rooms are most lavish, particularly the Suites and Business rooms
Head out into the city of Oslo, a rapidly-transforming capital that is now one of Europe’s more cosmopolitan cities. Karl Johans Gate, the city’s main shopping street, is just a short walk away, and the main attractions like the Royal Palace are also to be found in the vicinity. Follow the smell of the sea and the sound of the gulls for a block and you’ll reach Aker Brygge, the site of the town’s old docklands and now a vibrant waterfront teeming with cafés and bars.