Oslo’s Tjuvholmen (Thief Island) used to be an execution ground for smugglers and thieves. Today, this gentrified, pedestrianised harbour is home to arresting art and sculpture, restaurants in every flavour, colourful ice cream stands, luxury apartments and The Thief, a contemporary bolthole with artistic leanings.
In brushed gold, granite and glass, the curvaceous, nine-storey boutique hotel offers rooms with a sumptuous mix of textured throws, faux fur rugs and plush beds hidden beneath piles of plump cushions. Floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies overlook Oslo Fjord, where floating saunas are frequented by those brave enough to take the plunge in icy waters.
This winter, The Thief presents ‘Unplugged’, a series showcasing soulful Norwegian singers in an intimate setting, while its Art Space gallery introduces emerging Norwegian artists. The works of established legends – including Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Sir Peter Blake – decorate the best suites, lobby and in-house restaurant Foodbar. Guests also enjoy free entry to neighbouring Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum, arguably Norway’s most important private art collection, with modern masterpieces including Damien Hirst’s dissected cow and calf, ‘Mother and Child (Divided)’, and Jeff Koons’ ‘Michael Jackson and Bubbles’.
Pack wisely. Norwegians believe there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, and the Thief’s concierge will recommend frosty alfresco adventures by day, including a visit to Oslo Winterpark, a 40-minute drive away, with ski slopes for every skill level, and the 10-minute, 2000 metre-long Korketerekkeren toboggan run, accessible by metro. Warming up during Norway’s long dark nights will be even more fun at Winter Jump 2020.
Nothing to do with ski slopes, this is a four-day swing dance festival of joyful lindy hop parties and classes in and around Tjuvholmen, beginning 20 February. In Oslo, winter don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing. By Sarah Hedley Hymers thethief.com ◼
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© This article was first published in Dec-Jan 2020 edition of World Travel Magazine.