The hotel that stole our hearts

Want to hide out at a waterfront location, surrounded by luxury and exceptional artwork? The Thief, Oslo’s five-star design haven, will have you captured and under its spell in no time

By Cheryl Caira

Lead image: Artwork at The Thief. Credit: Mattias Hamrén & Jason Strong

The Thief snuck up on me one quiet, sultry evening, like the most experienced of robbers bundling up a shiny new find. Meandering round Oslo is a pretty mellowing experience, so by the time I’d walked from the shopping district of the city to the water’s edge at Tjuvholmen – the hotel’s location – I could already feel the stresses of home ebbing away.

An area infamous for theft and prostitution in the 18th century (Tjuvholmen translates to ‘Thief Islet’), Oslo’s fjord-side has undergone a transformation, becoming the city’s hotspot for upmarket bars and restaurants, arts and culture, plush property development and forward-thinking architecture. The Thief sits quietly observing the whole scene, with a shimmering glass façade which is both subtle and striking at the same time. The ceiling-to-floor length windows fill the hotel with calming, natural light; a key element of its design which centres on the contrasts between light and dark, giving the interiors a warm, contemporary feel.

Image: Mattias Hamrén & Jason Strong

You know when you arrive to a cast-iron Antony Gormley sculpture greeting you that you’re in for an artistic treat. Staying at The Thief is like enjoying a very laid-back tour of your own personal gallery – wandering the different corners of the hotel is a treasure hunt filled with unexpected artworks, peeping out where you least expect them. The hotel has attracted some of the biggest names in the arts since it opened in 2013, serving as a go-to retreat for celebrities and luxury-seekers. One of the world’s best-selling musicians was a guest there at the same time as us, along with a member of a rock band that we definitely weren’t cool enough to know the name of.

A mix of established and lesser-known names, the hotel’s art collection was curated by Sune Nordgren, former director of Norway’s National Museum of Art. Thief owner, Petter A. Stordalen, is a patron of the nearby Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, which loans the hotel some of its prized works.

Untitled (Cowboy) by Richard Prince. Part of The Thief’s extensive art collection

There is a room dedicated to Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, with original photos of Roxy Music album covers. Some Julian Opie to be found “on your way up”. And, depending on what floats your artsy boat, the arguable piece de résistance, a Warhol rarity from the Ladies and Gentlemen series. Being able to dine next to a piece of seminal pop art is definitely something a bit special.

On to the rooms. There are 118 in total, including six junior suites and the penthouse Oslo Suite, dedicated to British artist Sir Peter Blake. Our Superior Double room had that enveloping feeling of secluded luxury as soon as we sank into the super comfortable, down-duvet bedding. The hotel’s handpicked artwork extends into the rooms, which are furnished with alluring dark wood panelling, silky textures and gorgeous accents of colour. Wardrobes are spacious, so there’s plenty of room for overpackers like myself, and there’s a Nespresso machine for coffee on demand. The bathroom was also a deluxe experience, comprising of Vittorio marble floors and a refreshing rain shower. The best part was the balcony, where you could stare at dreamy views of the fjord.

After cosying up in the custom-designed fluffy bathrobes for a while, we decided it was time to try out the cocktail list in the seductive-looking Thief Bar. Guests can peruse the golden shelves of the library and read a book by the fire, or simply sip on something delicious. Being a Saturday evening the bar was buzzing, with the hotel’s expert mixologists shaking up a speedy storm.

Taking some time out to enjoy the spa is an essential. Guests can take a private glass elevator straight there and unwind beside the tranquil pool or in the hamam, with body scrub and massage treatments available. I particularly enjoyed lazing in the Finnish-style sauna.

Breakfast the next morning was an eye-popping feast: pick from a spread of perfectly poached eggs and plump tomatoes to enticing pastries and fresh fruit. Held in the hotel’s restaurant, which puts a spin on classic Norwegian cuisine, we drank our morning coffee next to a particularly naughty piece of artwork – let’s just say you need to read beneath the pinky sheen.

Viewing the sunset from The Thief’s rooftop, used as a sleek bar and terrace during the summer, was something I’ll never forget. Completely mesmerised, I watched a multitude of colours appear over the fjord and the city. I have to give it to The Thief – it slipped away unnoticed with all my worries, leaving me marvelling at its crafty powers.

Rates at The Thief start from around £236. Go to for more info