How Oslo’s newest boutique hotel is redefining the art experience
I never thought Norway to be a country of forward-thinking creatives. Now before anyone takes this the wrong way, I should clarify that it’s not a country that came ‘top-of-mind’…well not until now. My recent trip to its capital city, Oslo, took me on a journey to its newest part of town called Tjuvholmen (Thief Island). Across 2000 metres waterfront, you can find a buzzing culture, creative entrepreneurs, happy people, impressive architecture, and a magnitude of modern art on every street corner. Thief Island has it all, as well as a brand spanking new boutique hotel – THE THIEF – that just opened in January of this year.
Criminals and shady dealings
First of all, let me give you a bit of background to this redeveloped island of Oslo. Back in the days of the 18th century, Thief Island was given its name for a perfect reason. It was the ideal hunting ground where shady characters such as robbers and prostitutes would lurk around day and night. It was a dark and grotty place where decent folk wouldn’t dare to enter, for fear of being lynch mobbed.
Over the years, the robbers and prostitutes left Thief Island in a sorry state. And it wasn’t until recently that a Norwegian family-owned property development company gave it a new lease of life – minus the shady characters. Today, the island, located South West of Oslo, is a power centre for contemporary art and good city living on the fjord’s water’s edge.
Good city living cannot be complete without a boutique hotel. So when Norwegian hotelier and property developer, Petter. A. Stordalen was asked to develop a hotel on the island; he knew it couldn’t be the same as the majority of mid-size chain hotels seen in Oslo. He wanted to orchestrate a concept that could act as a catalyst to synchronise the cultures of art and design, both on Thief Island and within the hotel, as well as giving a new meaning to ‘hotel art’.
Whether contemporary, controversial or both, art at THE THIEF is there for you to experience, while staying in a hotel that has great style, design and service. Every wall, niche, or anywhere that you can stick a nail though has a mixture of Stordelen’s own extensive personal art collection, together with collections from its next-door neighbour at Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art including works from Andy Warhol, Sir Richard Blake, Richard Prince and Bryan Ferry.
THE THIEF is the only hotel worldwide that has dedicated itself to the world of contemporary art by sponsoring an art museum, meaning that changing exhibitions also makes the art experience within the hotel just as unpredictable.
As we all know, art isn’t just oil and canvas. The emphasis on digital art is really what sets The Thief apart from other hotels. Waiting in a lift for example, which is known to be the most time wasting drags of day-to-day life, has now been radically changed at THE THIEF by having inside exclusively-made animated films by British contemporary artist Julian Opie. I even made the journey from the top to the ground floor in both lifts as I found the animations so curiously entertaining. If I had a glass of champagne at hand, I would have stayed there much longer. Who knows if social gatherings in hotel lifts will become a trend in the future!
Overall, THE THIEF experience did rob me of something over the few days that I spent there, but it wasn’t my credit cards or my pearl earrings. Instead, it could steal away the day-to-day stresses of life and replace them with fun, excitement and curiosity. Art can be tedious if not curated in the right way, but at the Thief, art is funky, entertaining, engaging and constantly changing. For the fast-moving contemporary travellers, staying in this hotel, encircled by a whole island of art lifestyle and culture is indeed not a mundane experience.
To make the most of this neighbourhood, stay at the boutique hotel, The Thief, Oslo