The Norwegian capital makes the most of its natural location, with venues by the fjord and up into the mountains
Of Oslo’s many museums, it’s the smaller, older ones on the outskirts that are perhaps the most fascinating. As well as the Viking Ship Museum and Norwegian Folk Museum, the peninsula of Bygdøy is home to the Fram Museum
, which houses the world’s most well-travelled wooden polar ship. The building was erected around the colossal vessel in 1936, and banquets (inspired by different polar regions) can be served on Fram’s deck for up to 90 guests. A tour of the attraction is a great way to kick things off: guests can learn about the ship’s perilous Arctic and Antarctic missions and take in vast polar bears (don’t worry, they’re stuffed) before sitting down for reindeer served with glazed beetroot, potatoes and brown butter. Enjoying a Northern Lights display over the ship makes a memorable way to end an event.
For a more traditional sit-down dinner, head up to the 300-capacity Ekebergrestauranten
. This 1929 functionalist-style building can be spotted up in the hills from Oslo’s equally modern-looking opera house on the waterfront. It’s set within the striking Ekebergparken Sculpture Park, and guests can admire art by Salvador Dalì, Damien Hirst and Jake and Dinos Chapman as they make their way into the restaurant. Inside, you can expect cool surrounds – all exposed-concrete and modern art. Make sure you look outwards too: the views of the city and fjord below are impressive – particularly from the 30-capacity mezzanine terrace. The food here is contemporary and seasonal: the open shrimp sandwich we sampled went down a treat.
For high-capacity, business-first events, the traditional Kongressenter
is a popular place to start: it currently hosts more than 1,000 events a year. Formed of 20 rooms, the venue is well set up for multi-national events – there’s a translator box in the Congress Hall which can connect to each delegate in the 1,400-capacity room. Based on exec chef Bengt Sjöström’s ‘Matfest’ concept, food served up at conferences comes from the congress centre’s own farm, which harvests fruit for its signature apple juice. These apples are also fed to its 50 pigs, which, Bengt claims, makes their meat taste incredible.
It was designed by Renzo Piano (the man behind the Shard), so it’s no surprise that modern art museum Astrup Fearnley
cuts a striking figure against its more traditional harbourside neighbours the Rathaus and Nobel Peace Centre. Our favourite spot for meetings is the Kiefer Hall, named after German artist Anselm Kiefer whose famous installation The High Priestess/Zweistromland is permanently exhibited here. Up to 200 can be hosted theatre style in this deeply contrasting space: its walls feature the artist’s huge, harrowing canvases, while a floor-to-ceiling window at the far end of the room offers fine views over the fjord. Drinks receptions, dinners and guided tours can all be bolted on to conferences held here – be sure to check out Jeff Koons’s Michael Jackson sculpture.
An Oslo landmark since opening in 1874, The Grand
lives up to its name, with an ornate marble entrance hall, vast intricate staircases and two restored rococo-style ballrooms. It’s a plush place – among its 274 bedrooms and 54 suites, there are traditional and modern, highly styled bedrooms. Our pick for bosses and VIP guests is the newly refurbished Penthouse Terrace Suite, which comes with a wrap-around roof terrace and its own dining/meeting room for up to 20 guests. The hotel’s famous Grand Café brasserie reopened late last year following a refurbishment. Its new 20-seat wine cellar makes an impressive space for private dinners.
There are a few Scandic hotels dotted around Oslo, but our favourite is located in Vulkan. A new district developed from a former industrial suburb since 2004, this cool area is now filled with bohemian bars, modern restaurants and record stores aplenty. Scandic’s
property here reflects this: it’s bright, modern and crammed full of cool Scandi design details. The functional bedrooms are no different – expect wi-fi as standard, refillable Face Stockholm products and a minimal look. Five modern meeting rooms and an all-you-can-eat Nordic breakfast (so much salmon!) completes the offering.
Also in the Vulkan district is Mathallen Food Hall
. A foodie’s paradise, this vast hall opened in 2012. After eying up all the stalls (from coffee, cheese and cured meats through to Asian tapas, tacos and wares from a local brewery) groups of up to 200 can take part in a food and drink masterclass in the top tier kitchens. We like the sound of the ‘cheese knowledge’ course. Another way to enjoy the venue is to organise a ‘Taste of Mathallen’ lunch, where vendors across the site will send over different courses of local delicacies. The fresh crayfish we tried were outstanding.
For a truly Norwegian experience, you need to get out of the main city and into the surrounding forest and mountains. Trains leave the main station regularly and can take you all the way up to Holmenkollen
, the world’s newest ski jump. There’s an impressive skiing museum to explore, but we recommend taking the zip-wire down from the very top. Perched atop a mountain, the way down looks nothing less than daunting, but the 361m descent is an exhilarating experience. Groups of up to 18 can recover in the VIP Jump Lodge with waffles, sour cream and lingonberry jam.
(+47 8153 0555) offers advice and venue-finding services for event planners.