Let’s face it. Scandinavia is not cheap, but you don’t have to break the bank to find a good hotel in Norway. Whether in the capital of Oslo or further afield, there are good options that won’t deplete your checking account.
This month, we traveled to Tromso, a two-hour flight north of Oslo in the Arctic circle. It’s a great place to start your hunt for the Northern Lights. Our base for the adventure was the Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora.
Near the Action
The hotel’s location – Sjøgata 19-21 – couldn’t have been much better. Located on the harbor with views of the snow-covered mountains, the hotel is convenient to all of the city’s main attractions. The Tromso Cathedral is a short walk from the hotel’s front door, as are shops, restaurants and museums. The spectacular Arctic Cathedral is a bit further — about a 20-minute walk across the bridge, giving you breathtaking views of the city and mountains.
Guest rooms were clean and welcoming. Light parquet floors were complemented by dark-toned contemporary furniture. On oversized flat-screen tv was hung on the wall, but we never turned it on since our schedule was so hectic. WiFi was fast and reliable.
The twin beds were comfortable and featured traditional Scandinavian bedding. I just love those comfy cozy down comforters! In the bathroom, we were thrilled to have a power shower, although the layout was a bit odd. A moving glass partition separated the shower from the toilet area, and we didn’t have a bathmat. Luckily, housekeeping delivered extra towels to solve the problem.
Start with a healthy breakfast
Our accommodations included breakfast, afternoon snacks and dinner. Get off to a great start with a sumptuous breakfast that includes a choice of cooked eggs, yogurts and fresh fruit, cereals, juices and full-grain breads.
At 3 p.m., head to the dining room for coffee, tea and make-it-yourself waffles. Ah, what a challenge, especially when you don’t see the instructions. The result: an unpleasant surprise as runny batter overflows onto the counter. Can you say embarrassing?
Delicious, hearty soups and Scandinavian breads were the highlight of the evening meals and much appreciated after an afternoon in the frigid Arctic snow. There was also a selection of salads, meats and potatoes, although the salad selection didn’t vary from night to night. Yawn.
After consuming all those calories, there is an option to burn a few off. The hotel has a tiny fitness centre with a treadmill, yoga mats and free weights. It is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. There is also a fifth floor “Relaxation Corner” with an outdoor, rooftop jacuzzi.
Pros and Cons
The hotel is a non-cash hotel, so you pay for everything with a credit card, debit card or bank card. The front desk staff was often out-of-sight and didn’t always have answers to the questions we asked. One guest who lost a bag was given different information about its status from different employees, who didn’t seem to have a grip on who to call to inquire about it or the sense of urgency that the guest felt since it contained a passport and identification.
How did the hotel rate overall? An “A” for cleanliness and location, a B+ for breakfast and dinner and a “C” for front desk service.