This is part 6 in a series about my summer 2017 trip, which took me to Norway, the Netherlands, and Malta. You can read an overview of the trip here.
Oslo doesn’t have a ton of hotels from the major international chains, though some of the larger Scandinavian chains are well-represented (Scandic, Nordic Choice, etc.). There are three Carlson properties – one Park Inn and two Radisson Blus. I ended up spending all four nights in Oslo at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel, which was the more placid location of the two. The Radisson Blu Plaza is right by the train station, whereas the Scandinavia is next to the Slottsparken – both in the center city and walkable to a lot. I figured it was a good time to use my Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit, and booking several months early there was a 15% Early booking (yet not prepaid) rate—a decent price for peak tourist season in an expensive city ($156 a night), leaving an effective rate of $117 a night.
In all, my stay was mixed. The service was really not up to the standards I expect from a Radisson Blu at that price point. The room and facilities were generally excellent, with a big caveat – about 80% of the ground floor was closed off and had been completely gutted. There were dumpsters in front of the hotel and 80% of the lobby, the lobby bar, the main restaurant, and all the conference facilities were nonexistent. The result was mostly cosmetic, but it did make the hotel feel a lot less full-service, with a tiny area by check-in desks comprising the entire lobby, which was almost always crowded. It struck me as strange that the hotel would do such major construction for the entire summer – signs indicate the construction was from June through September.
I arrived a bit after 2pm on the Flybussen. All of the desks were staffed with clerks wearing “Trainee” tags. (I never saw anyone who was *not* a trainee at the front desk over 4 days.) The woman checking me in seemed very confused. After a bit, she said to me, “You requested room 1802, right?” Huh? Nope. She then disappeared in the back for a few minutes and then came back and said she had assigned me to a room on the 22nd Floor, the “Club Floor.” There was no club.
I headed to the elevator, and was a bit confused, as the elevator only went to 21. Maybe only some of the elevators went to 22? No. When I got to the 21nd floor, I saw that there was a door I had to swipe my key to open, and then two flights of stairs to get to the 22nd floor. With luggage, this sucked. Without luggage, it was still annoying. At a minimum, though, the front desk should have told me about this feature. It’s also a bit ableist. I’m generally fit, but for a lot of people, two flights of stairs is actually difficult. And the hotel doesn’t seem to have bellboys or porters so it’s basically a downgrade from floor 21. (No building nearby is anywhere close to as tall, so the impact on views is de minimis.)
I’m not sure what category room I had, but in my days in the hotel and in looking at the floor plan, it was definitely one of the smallest ones. It was newly renovated at least. The entry area was so small, though, that I couldn’t open my suitcase on the designated area, and dropped a bottle of wine and broke it when I tried. The door actually opens out because there’s no room otherwise.
The bathroom was frustratingly tiny, such that there was no counter by the sink. To sit on the toilet, you have to push the shower door into the shower at a 90-degree angle.
The rest of the room was fine. There was a comfy Queen size bed, and a desk and sitting area. The view of the North side of the city was perfectly fine, but the other side of the hotel has absolutely incredible views of the city and harbor. Indeed, there’s a bar on the 21st side on that side of the hotel that they plug as having the best views in the city. It’s frustratingly only open late in the evening; since there’s no lobby or lobby bar now, you’d think they would consider keeping it open all day.
There were other service issues. By day two, I had not received my Gold elite welcome amenity. I guessed it was sent to the other room I was supposed to be in. I went down and asked about it and wasn’t really given an answer. (A welcome amenity mattered more here than usual because everything in Oslo is so expensive and there wasn’t even a bottle of water in the room.) When I got to my room at 3:30 in the afternoon after a full day of sightseeing, housekeeping was first cleaning the rooms in my hall, which sucks. I had to find a place to sit and wait when I really just wanted to take a nap. The housekeeper apologized to me and said that it was taking so long because every time she tried to clean the regular rooms, she got a call asking for specific rooms to be made ready for new guests. To me, that means you’re understaffed.
On day 3, the welcome amenity arrived- a bottle of water and small bag of chocolates, with a note saying “Welcome back to us.” I have never been to this hotel before.
The gym was pretty good for a European hotel, located one floor below ground, and connected to an indoor pool. There was a range of cardio equipment and a decent supply of weights.
Breakfast at the hotel is included. On each of the three mornings I was there, the experience was very different. On day one, the crowd was almost all Asian tour groups and it was crowded but orderly. On day two, when I went a bit later, it was a mix of Americans, Europeans, and people from the Middle East – mostly families. Then on day three, it was an international zoo. Staff did do a very good job clearing tables quickly though.
The food offerings were pretty extensive, with a hot bar with a variety of eggs, pancakes, and sausage. There was a big bread and pastry table, as well as a center island of cheeses, meats, and pates. On the side were juices, yogurt, water, cereal, and coffee.
At each seat was a menu listing food options you could order, including omelets and potatoes, although it was actually hard to get a waiter to order from. On days two and three, there were no menus. But on day three, the hot dishes were literally empty and the rest of the buffet looked like it had been attacked by wolves, so I hailed a waiter down and was able to order an omelet anyway.
I checked out early in the morning on my last day. No one had mentioned it, but as I was leaving, I saw what seemed like an express breakfast/coffee set-up on the far side of the lobby, crammed in clearly due to the construction. Had I known I would’ve allowed time and grabbed a coffee and banana before heading to the train station.
In all, the Radisson Blu Scandinavia is a perfectly fine hotel. Perhaps after the construction is finished it will become a nice hotel, and maybe I just had service that was off. I slept fine, it was clean, and the location was good. It’s interesting because until my stay last year at the Radisson Blu Royal Copenhagen, I have had mostly positive experiences at Radisson Blus in Europe (which on a rough count, has been 13 properties). But this was two not great ones in a row. (Actually three; I’d almost forgot the bloody (literally) Radisson Blu Dublin Airport.)