On our weekends away, we on occasionally stay at boring, branded hotels, the type that look the same no matter what city you are in and provide little sense of place. We end up there usually because of convenience or cost, but it is certainly not by preference. We love funky. We like boutique, smaller properties that offer something different or have a fun design.
For our weekend away in Oslo, we avoided the boring choices and booked into the sixty-five room First Hotel Grims Grenka. It was the right choice.
Grims Grenka is located in the heart of Oslo city center. It is a ten minute walk at most from the main Oslo train station, so it makes for easy access if coming from the Flytoget airport train. It is also only a few blocks north from the harbor and just off of the main pedestrian thoroughfare, Karl Johans gate. Tram, metro and buses are all nearby and many of the sites are within easy walking distance.
The guest areas in the hotel are great. The lobby is funky, if a tad dark, with a variety of comfortable chairs and couches and a bookshelf separating it from the check-in area. Beyond that, the lobby opens up to a large atrium with huge skylights, bringing in natural light.
The entrance to the restaurant MADU is right off the lobby and where is breakfast buffet was set up each morning. The spread is generous, with a full compliment of coffee, tea, bread, pastries, meats, cheese and various spreads and dips. This being Norway, smoked salmon was on offer as well. There are a few hot items, including scrambled eggs, beans and sautéed mushrooms, but the star was the super crispy bacon. Buffet bacon is usually limp and sad, but not here. Kudos to the Grims Grenka for nailing that one!
From mid-May through August, the roof top bar, Q Lounge is open, offering alfresco drinking. We visited on probably the last weekend of the season, but it was nice to grab a drink after dinner on the roof. The weather was rather chilly while we were in Oslo (even though it was August), but the bar provided wool blankets and had the heat lamps going. It was a relaxing way to wrap up our night.
Our room was in the Winter Lounges category, not a suite but an upgrade from the standard Summer rooms. The room was quite sizeable, with a long entrance leading to a separate sitting area and desk with hardwood floors throughout. The L shaped couch was great and the massive LCD TV was on hinges, allowing it to swing out towards the couch or towards the bed for viewing.
The bed itself was the star of the room, with a super squishy mattress pad that had us searching under the fitted sheets for a brand name so we could buy one for ourselves. One downside to the room was a single window (heavily shaded in drapery, which was difficult to open and let in little light. Granted, we slept more with such a dark space, but we appreciate abundant light like most hotel goers.
The bathroom was separated into two rooms, with the toilet near the sitting room area and the shower next to the bedroom. The shower was great, with a huge rain-head shower and a vast array of specialty soaps and shampoos.
The Grims Grenka has a lot going for it. We loved the free (and fast) Wifi, available throughout the hotel without a password. There is nothing more frustrating that having to switch Wifi zones when you move from your room to the lobby and then the breakfast area. Having one Wifi area was easy and efficient, and frankly makes sense in this day and age.
The design was super cool and definitely our style. Distinctly modern, with beautiful but comfortable furniture, both in the lobby and our room. We loved the abundance of dark hardwood floors. The vibe was rather laid back as well. The breakfast area was never busy and the rooftop bar was fun without being pretentious or obnoxious. No loud, pumping house music rattled our ear drums.
We would not hesitate to recommend Grims Grenka to anyone visiting Oslo. It is not the cheapest option in town, but with special rates available from about £80 per night, it is affordable, especially in a city not known for a lot of deals. With its central location, cool rooms, great wifi and ample breakfast spread, the Grims Grenka is a great choice for exploring Oslo. It sure beats the boring alternatives.
Do you prefer fun, boutique hotels? Share your thoughts below!