Not having visited Norway’s capital city since I was in my twenties (just a few years ago..), I was excited and curious to see how the city has changed and what it has to offer for the events market. Our group of 13 (only unlucky for some..) met at Gatwick bright and early on Friday morning and were expertly checked in by Kristina of Norwegian Airlines – with 4 daily flights from Gatwick alone and taking just 2 hours, Oslo is an important city hub with good flight connections.
Our wonderful hosts at Nordic Choice Hotels and MICE guru put together an action packed programme over 2 days, which provided just the right amount of fun and education. We all decided that the most used word over the weekend to describe the hotels, venues and restaurants was “cool”! The new Clarion Hotel The Hub was our home and we were all struck with the intimate and “cool” feel of the lobby and bar, despite being a hotel with 810 bedrooms and meeting space for up to 1,100 pax. Just a short walk away, we lunched at the Clarion Hotel Oslo which is located in the new and trendy Barcode area, which refers to the way the buildings look. Oslo is known for its gastronomy and in particular the best fish in the world, so salmon and cod were on the menu and did not disappoint – so fresh and tasty! With 250 elegantly designed bedrooms, 13 meeting rooms and a permanent art collection, the hotel is ideal for meetings and incentives alike. After building up an appetite with a “city challenge”, it would’ve been rude not to sample the delicious menus and cocktails designed by world renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson at the end of our first day - the rooftop gardens of The Hub supply the freshest ingredients for his Norda restaurant, which is located on the 13th floor.
Adrenaline Saturday did not disappoint – we started with a RIB tour on Oslo fjord and were grateful for the warm suits, goggles, suspension seats and a Leonardo di Caprio lookalike driver as we crossed the wake of the huge ferries and enjoyed the picturesque beach houses along the shores.
Later that day, after a tour around the Astrup Fearnley museum, a waterfront new venue for events, which houses an amazing collection of modern art, including some Damien Hirst pieces, we took the bus to Holmenkollen, which is high above Oslo, but only 30 minutes’ drive away. The famous ski jump was built for the 1952 winter Olympics and is a fantastic area for outdoor pursuits, including zip lining and abseiling – ideal for those thrill seeking groups….. and yes, at least half of the group took the plunge (literally) and abseiled down from the top of the ski jump, including me!! Life in the old dog yet…
A quick stop was called for at Fram Museum to show us the world’s oldest polar exploration ship, which would provide a very atmospheric setting for a client dinner, before donning the glad rags for the evening. Saturday night dinner was at the very (yes, you’ve guessed it) “cool” Sudost an Asian fusion restaurant housed in an old bank – once again, enjoyed by all and of course a boogie was obligatory afterwards at a nearby nightclub.
Breakfast at Clarion Hotel The Hub was impressive and in line with Oslo being voted Europe’s greenest city, Nordic Choice have reduced the size of their plates and bowls to encourage guests to waste less – clever idea!
We were all delighted to find that Oslo offers such a wide variety of hotels, restaurants, venues and activities for groups and appreciated the beautifully pollution-free fresh air too!