We arrived in Oslo on a late night flight with two children in tow. Tired, hungry and a little fractious (and that was just the adults!) we were hoping for a smooth and easy transfer from Gardermoen airport to our hotel beds.
Smooth and easy was exactly what we got. The Flytoget express train is accessible directly from the arrivals lounge, and trains run frequently and on time – whisking us to Oslo's Central Station in 20 minutes.
The Oslo Clarion Royal Christiania is just a minute's walk from Central Station – leave the station, turn right and walk along the street to the traffic lights and you'll spot the hotel just across the road.
Check-in was seamless. There was no wait before we were attended to, the reception staff team were friendly and welcoming. The children were given a welcome pack, including colouring equipment and a token to exchange for a free ice cream – a thoughtful touch that delighted the kids.
The Royal Christiania is part of the Nordic Choice chain, with an impressive raft of environmental and sustainable policies that go far beyond the “Please re-use your towel” mantra found in many hotels (although re-using your towel is very important – read about the life of a hotel towel here).
These planned and monitored initiatives have produced excellent results, with the environmental impact of Nordic Choice hotels dramatically reduced – for example a 41% reduction in use of chemicals and a 45% reduction in non-recyclable waste – with plans in place to reduce impact further year on year.
Electricity throughout the chain is provided by Ishavskraft using 100% renewable energy, while low-flow jets in toilets, sinks and showers are being installed to reduce water consumption. Sustainable food is of great importance too: organic and locally produced food is used in the breakfast buffet, food waste is avoided and alternatives to meat – including plenty of fresh and healthy fruit and vegetables – are readily available.
The Royal Christiania is in a great location for exploring Oslo as it's within walking distance of many of the city's attractions. Karl Johans Gate – the main central shopping street that leads to the Royal Palace – is just around the corner, and the Munch Museum, Opera House and Aker Brygge are all a short walk away.
We stayed in a family room, which was comfortable and spacious – and ideal if you're travelling with children as there are two separate sleeping areas and two TVs. The children's sleeping area contained a double sofa bed –something our kids aren't too keen on, as they prefer to have their own, independent sleeping space. But this was an excellent-quality, comfortable sofa bed – fully made up when we arrived, which considering the late hour we were very grateful for – and after an initial grumble at having to share, the children slept very well.
Our beds were also good quality, with huge pillows and Scandinavian style mattress toppers – blissfully comfortable. Our room looked out over the street, and there was a little noise at night – hardly surprising in a city centre location – but as the room had air conditioning we were able to shut the windows and prevent any further disturbance.
In the morning, we discovered there weren't enough cups for us all to have a hot drink. Reception provided us with extra cups, as well as plenty of spare sachets of tea and coffee. In fact every request we made (we also needed extra towels) was greeted with “No problem!” and an immediate solution. We got the impression that nothing was too much trouble.
Possibly our favourite thing about the Royal Christiania was the excellent breakfast. This was a feast that kept us going all day: eggs, meats, smoked salmon, croissants, fresh fruit and salad are just a few of the items on offer. The children particularly enjoyed the waffle machine – fresh batter is whipped up each morning so that diners can make their own waffles, and enjoy with fresh cream and jam.
In the basement of the hotel there's a gym, which I would have liked to have used, but couldn't because I'd left my running shoes at home. There's also a cute doughnut-shaped pool, which was fun for kids – although serious swimmers may get dizzy swimming around in a circle!
Overall the Royal Christiania was a hotel that we found welcoming, in a convenient location and with top-notch service. This is a fantastic choice for families visiting Oslo, and for travellers looking for an eco-friendly option in the heart of the city.
Above: statue outside Central Station, a minute's walk from the hotel; the Royal Palace