Site Inspection - Hotel Sommerro Oslo
The latest upscale addition to the Norwegian capital’s hotel scene, the Sommerro opened its doors in September 2022. This historical building originally housed “Oslo Lysverker” (the city’s electrical company). Construction started in 1917 and was only completed in 1931. Hence the architecture bears the markings of multiple directions present in that era, from the beginning of functionalism, to art deco details and neo-classicism. The architects have managed to successfully convert what was originally intended as a (fancy) office building into a luxury hotel housing five restaurants, a library and a tea salon, as well as a rooftop pool & sauna, a SPA/pool/Roman bath in the basement and a state-of-the art gym.
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Hotel Sommerro Oslo
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The pool and Roman baths called “Vestkantbadet” in the basement of the building were opened in 1932 as a gesture from “Oslo Lysverker” to the local population in Frogner. At the time some apartment buildings in Oslo still did not have private showers or bathtubs. “Vestkantbadet” was run with the surplus energy from the office building and quickly became very popular.
The hotel offers 231 rooms and suites. The interior design was carried out by NY and London based company Grecodeco with the aim of however preserving both the Norwegian identity of the property as well as keeping with the 1920-30s aesthetic. In my opinion they have been successful - the rooms feel very authentic and they are comfortably large (with the exception of the Loft rooms, more on that below).
The room categories are as follows:
Loft (19-23 m2)*
Standard (19-26 m2)
Superior (24-28 m2)
Deluxe (27-34 m2)
Junior Suite (40-45 m2)
Suite (70-100 m2)
*The loft rooms are located on the last floor and have skylights only, there are two queen beds in two separate alcoves, so can be suitable for friends or family traveling together who want privacy and only need the room for sleeping.
I have seen all the room categories except for the suites as they were all occupied on the day I visited. Generally they feel very spacious, the bathrooms are lovely and the wardrobes are ample and come with bathrobes. Amenities are Byredo, the sheets are great quality from Høie and the beds from Hilding Anders are extremely comfortable. I stayed here in February and have been obsessing about that bed ever since.
Please note however that only the Junior Suites and the Suites have access to the rooftop pool and sauna. All rooms have access to the baths, however some against a fee (EUR 25 I believe).
FOOD & BEVERAGE
The former canteen of the office building has been converted into a grandiose restaurant with tables located around a rectangular bar in the center. The original artwork is still intact, the furniture carries the same signature style of the hotel. There is a live band playing (strictly jazz) and the menu is very continental (think French classics like steak frites, Chateaubriand etc). This has quickly become the hottest ticket in Oslo so reservations are advisable also for hotel guests (they will go out of their way to accommodate guests, but during peak times on weekends it can be hard). If you have guests wanting to eat a similar menu there is a brasserie across the street that is excellent.
The breakfast (always included whether booking direct or through Preferred Hotels Platinum) is also served in this restaurant and deserves special mention. It is a mix of a la carte and a buffet, guests can choose a dish from the a la carte menu (avocado toast, eggs benedict, etc.) and then also help themselves to the ample buffet. I especially liked the cheese selection showcasing some of Norway’s primary cheesemakers. For someone having traveled extensively in Norway this was probably the best breakfast buffet I have seen, maybe second only to the Thon in Svolvær in the Lofoten Islands.
Fine dining restaurant situated in a UFO-shaped glass building t(don’t know how to describe it otherwise) that was added during reconstruction. The views are of course impeccable, as is the food supposedly (I do not speak from experience, only from feedback from friends). The head chef is Frida Ronge who has built quite the name for herself at Tak Stockholm located in the hotel “At Six” (owned by the same group).
Izakaya Bar & Terrace
Located in the floor below Tak, but with the same views and a terrace, this place serves up Japanese izakaya-style cooking. Do not be afraid to encourage your clients to try Japanese restaurants in Oslo — the produce is prime quality and much closer to the source than a lot of what you get in Japan.
Plah & Ahaan
This is a so-called “progressive Thai” restaurant combining the essentials of Thai cuisine with Nordic influences. It has been around for more than 18 years, the Executive Chef Terje Omundsen decided to move his place to the hotel. It is technically divided into two restaurants or menus if you like. P,ah is a tasting menu, omakase style whereas Ahaan does a tasting menu as well as an a la carte menu. They are both excellent, surprising but delicious flavors.
This place is also not new in Oslo, it is an offshoot from a highly popular pintxos place in the Vulkan foodhall. It is casual, suitable for people who want to grab some nice wines by the glass and nibble on some light bites.
This is the tea salon, beautiful place inspired by the fairytales of Asbjørnsen & Moe (Norway’s answer to H.C. Andersen). They serve up a traditional afternoon tea (avec or sans bubbles) to the tunes of live piano music.
Rooftop pool & sauna
As mentioned under “Rooms” access to this area is exclusive to guests staying in Junior Suites or Suites. It is pretty unique though. Heated all year round (I was up there in February - fantastic experience even for someone from Oslo).
Vestkantbadet - Roman baths / pool / spa
I mentioned the story of “Vestkantbadet” earlier - it is gorgeous, has a beautiful vintage, glamor vibe to it. And the Roman plunge baths are lovely.
The Sommerro has its own cinema. They do screenings of classics on particular nights, often combined with a dinner and movie offer where you start by having dinner in Ekspedisjonshallen, and end the evening in the comfy cinema with popcorn and soda.
By far the best gym I have ever seen in a hotel. It is a boutique gym also open to non-guests, and supposedly the most expensive gym in town (I can see why).
The Sommerro is part of the Preferred Hotels Platinum Program and the rates match those of the hotel plus you get the following:
Upgrade (subject to availability upon check in, but try calling ahead)
Complimentary daily breakfast for two (this is always included in the room rate)
100 EUR credit towards food and beverages (not alcohol) in Ekspedisjonshallen, Izakaya, Tak or To Søstre.
This is a 5 star property that ticks all the boxes. The location is superb, views are fantastic and it is also great value for money considering that standard rooms with breakfast (incl of taxes) start at EUR 250. Taking into consideration the perks it is even better. My only word of caution is that it is not a your usual 5-star property, it has a lively, trendy and somewhat younger vibe. An unconfirmed rumor has it that the owner of the Nordic Choice Group (Petter Stordalen) originally had planned for this to be a Soho House, and that makes sense. It reminds me of the recently opened Soho House in Rome. My guess is that it didn’t work out because of the location - the Sommerro is located in what is commonly referred to as the “filet mignon” of Norwegian real estate and might not fit with the Soho House brand. But it does have that feel.
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT
Tricky question for an Oslo native. I do appreciate my hometown all year round. But when recommending a time for foreigners to visit I always say May or June as temperatures tend to be good (20-25 degrees C), days are long (sun sets at around 22-23:00), and celebrating May 17th (Norway’s 4th of July) in Oslo is an experience to be had at least once in life. Ironically, the Sommerro is located right on the square that is the main gathering point for the festivities for people living in the west end.
July is a quieter month as the locals leave for their holidays. In this period I would suggest sending them towards the Southern Coast. Hit me up for recommendations.
August and September tend to be cooler, but are a beautiful time of year seeing as the parks of which Oslo has plenty, light up in colors.
Should you have clients planning on going to the Northern part of Norway in the winter time for Northern lights, I would still make a stopover in Oslo. The winter climate is milder than New York, there is zero humidity and the snow melts as the sidewalks are heated. The Christmas Market is lovely, and the restaurant scene is thriving. The Sommerro is also very well located with respect to the airport express train, private transfers take longer (especially in winter).
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