On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway

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On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway

Hotels are well versed in making their guests feel on top of the world but in Oslo, the capital of Norway, the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel with the newly refurbished “The Top” Bar & Restaurant also allows its guests to wine, dine and sleep one hundred and ten meters above the city.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
110-meter high Radisson Blu Plaza in Oslo

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Oslo officially opened its doors in March of 1990 by the late King Olav V of Norway. Managing director Tarje Hellebust (62) has been responsible for the management of the 678 room hotel including 23 suites and 230 staff members since 2002. When he was appointed, he had a long list of fresh ideas and suggestions for reviving the hotel into the future.

First of all a critical look was taken at the arrival experience and the reception area, where the most eye-catching elements were the huge grey concrete columns, a small kiosk and dark walls, making the area look like any other small hotel reception. They transformed the concrete columns into stand-out marble design elements and opened up the welcome sensation of the whole lobby. Even Marie Antoinette had faux marble painted in her opera house at Versailles.

Most striking views

Today, visitors to the rapidly expanding capital of Oslo have access to some of the most striking views in the city. Next summer, guests will also be able to enjoy a 55-meter-long open-air terrace on the roof of the 37 story Radisson Blu Plaza hotel.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Fourth-generation hotelier Tarje Hellebust, CEO of Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel.

Oslo Plaza is conveniently located next to the main train station with directly access to the airport express train, several of the capital’s new attractions, like the new Munch Museum, The Public Library (Deichman), and the National Opera House, the Barcode buildings and monuments as well as the multi-purpose indoor arena Oslo Spektrum, known for hosting major national and international artists.

Fourth-generation hotelier

We meet with fourth-generation hotelier Tarje Hellebust, whose hospitality background includes a Chefs apprenticeship at Hotel Continental in Oslo, 1/2 a years as sommelier on The Royal Viking Star cruise ship, a Master degree from the University of Stavanger and front office management of the first Radisson Blu Hotel in Oslo (Scandinavia at Holberg plass). Following this, he was posted several years in Stockholm, London, Helsinki and in Manchester. He has been with the Radisson Hotel Group for more than 40 years, and now celebrates his 20th anniversary as general manager at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
From the reception
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Rest area at reception.
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Ground floor rest area
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Virw from rest area towards reception.

“I am so lucky and privileged to have a job where no day is the same ‘day-in-and-day-out routine’,” Hellebust says. “At this iconic flagship hotel, I feel that my main task is to always be open to new ideas and thinking, be a change agent and facilitate development and growth of our employees. This way we secure that we meet and even exceed our guests’ expectations. I really look forward to every day I go to work, and appreciate the relations and interactions with both guests, employees, owner and operator alike.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
From “The Top” Restaurant.

Investing heavily in the top floor

Radisson Blu Plaza has 678 well-appointed rooms and suites that offer breathtaking views of the city and the fjord. The bathrooms feature contemporary amenities including stand-alone bathtubs and showers stocked with a full set of refreshing bath products. We stayed in the Sonja Henie Suite.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Norway’s Queen of Ice, Sonja Henie
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Detail from the Sonja Henie Suite
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
The bedroom, Sonja Henie Suite
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
King size bed.

The hotel owner, Wenaasgruppen AS, has recently invested heavily in the hotel’s top floor with a new bar and restaurant designed by Projector Singular architects, Madrid. The refurbished areas are located high above the hustle and bustle of the city on the 33th and 34th floor, offering a cozy space where guests can enjoy a wide selection of drinks and up to date fine dining.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Head Chef Mads Granlundin the open kitchen.
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Our headwaiter and somellier Daniele had composed our dinner and the wines were exclusively selected.

The restaurant is located on the 33th floor, offering a variety of cuisines, including local Nordic specialties and guests can enjoy striking city views in a modern dining environment under supervision of Head Chef Mads Granlund. Daniele, who was our head waiter and sommelier for the evening, composed our menu:

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Deleicious accompanying bread
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
One of our starters.

Starters: Scallops from Frøya. Trout roe. Hollandaise sauce infused with cured ham. Under the hollandaise sauce, fermented summer cabbage with pickled mustard seeds and on the very top, jalapeno slices.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Veal tenderloin.

Main dish 1: Veal tenderloin. Veal brisket, corn mash with sauteed corn kernels. Rosette cabbage and pickled black trumpet mushrooms.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
: Confit turbot.

Main dish 2: Confit turbot. Squid. Grilled kohlrabi. Turbot & chicken stock and a king oyster mushroom at the bottom.

Side dish: Pommes Anna potato with potato and chanterelle foam.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Side dish.
On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Buckthorne brulée

Dessert 1: Buckthorn brulee. Blueberry compote. Kaffir lime leaf meringue on top.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Caramelized almonds

Dessert 2: Caramelized almonds covered in cloudberry ice cream with strudel on top and cloudberry gel on top of the strudel.

Not to forget the petit fours consisting of lavender and rhubarb toffee chocolate with cranberry powder.

Accompanying wines.

Can only be described as heavenly – up in the sky.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Thank you, head Chef Mads Granlund!

Next summer, the outdoor rooftop terrace opens for guests and a brand new “Chicago Pizza & Brew” with entrance on the ground level will serve delicious pizzas, beers and drinks where guests also can view Champions league, Formula 1 and soccer games on big tv screens.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Night virw from the room.

A feeling of New York in the middle of the capital of Norway

“It’s fantastic to finally be able to invite guests to evenings they won’t forget soon here at the top of the city of Oslo. With floor-to-ceiling windows 110 meters above the city and a Nordic-international menu in both the restaurant and bar, served with friendly service, the aim is to give our guests a kind of New York- ish feeling here in the middle of our Norwegian capital,” says Tarje Hellebust and adds, “This development is a kind of crowning achievement and something I have been passionate about and dreaming of for long time.”

He tells us that no other lifts in a Norwegian building brings guests more kilometers per year than the 10 lifts (one outside on the facade) at Oslo Plaza.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
The outdoor rooftop terrace opens for guests next summer. Illustration by architects.

“The rooftop bar covers the entire 34th floor and thus gives guests the absolute best view of the entire capital. We have improved the menu for cocktails & drinks and have our own DJ on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays. We can proudly say that this is Oslo’s most spectacular rooftop bar,” he adds.

Don’t ignore the ground floor lounge

In addition to the reception Lounge, Radisson Blu Plaza boasts two restaurants that offer authentic local and international flavor. We tested a selection of cocktails in the lounge all made by assistant F&B Manager and bartender Eskild.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
We tested a selection of cocktails in the lounge all made by assistant F&B Manager and bartender Eskild.

The image above shows from left to right: Hot raspberry, Passion, Berry Mule, 20 Century, Smokey honey, Norwegian Autumn and Espresso Martini. Admittedly, we did not taste all of these.

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
Stairways to the conference center.

Ideal for large events

The Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel provides 30 conference rooms totaling 1,800 square meters and can host up to 1100 guests. All rooms provide state-of-the-art technology and free high-speed wireless internet access. The hotel also offers indoor access to the adjacent Oslo Spektrum and partners with the grand arena to stage large events, including international trade fairs. A dedicated meetings and events coordinator is on hand to help you organize every detail.

High society

No wonder, Radisson Plaza is the preferred hotel for superstars from all over the world. The list of celebrities includes the Norwegian King and Queen, Boris Jeltsin, Yassir Arafat, President Bill Clinton (twice), Sir Elton John, Robbie Williams, Monserat Caballe, Cathlyn Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas, Willie Johnson, The Rolling Stones, Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Jenifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Salma Hayek, Will Smith, Donna Summer, Simply Red and Sting amongst others.

Radisson Hotel Group

“My impression is that skyscraper hotels are emerging as a trend in the luxury segment,” says Hellebust. “Radisson Blu Plaza is a flagship hotel under an international brand, Radisson Blu, the only true international hotel brand represented in Norway. Radisson Hotel Group is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic hotel groups with more than 1,400 hotels and is expanding rapidly. The ownership structure varies; some hotels, like ours, are on management contract, some are leased and some are under a franchise agreements. Radisson Park Hotel at Fornebu, which opened in 1971, was the first Radisson hotel in Norway, whereas The Radisson Collection in Copenhagen was our very first hotel to open back in 1960 .”

Where does your energy come from?

“I think the energy comes from achieving something, big or small, seeing and perhaps having a small part  in people growing and developing in their roles, seeing guests thoroughly enjoy themselves, and achieving milestones in our plan and celebrating these, and move on to the next… these aspects are vital for me.”

What are you most proud of?

“I have to admit that the pandemic time was tough, even a mental challenge at times. Unfortunately we had to lay off some 100+ great employees and even close the hotel for months. However, it was a game changer, I don’t think the hotel industry will quite ever be the same again and we could sort of “start from scratch again in a sense”.  When we reopened, we had a completely new perspective on management and operating structures. But all in all, I am proud that we have managed to adapt to various ups and downs. All things considered, I feel that we have contributed to putting this iconic flagship hotel on the map again in a good way, and being geared for the future.”

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway
“My impression is that skyscraper hotels are emerging as a trend in the luxury segment,” says CEO Tarje Hellebust.

Describe your greatest challenges?

“The unpredictability both on a macroeconomic and global level these days. The uncertainty and so constantly having to adjust, – what will tomorrow bring? I am also thinking of all our young employees who understandably ask themselves (and us) questions along the lines of “do we have safe jobs? Will I be able to pay the electricity bills, will there be peace soon”? We as leaders have to deal with concerns like this and try and create a certain calm towards these issues and show leadership and empathy with our fellow employees.

And I cannot fail to mention the uncertain economic conditions. Before, 52% of our income came from the foreign segments. After the pandemic, the main focus has changed to leisure private individuals, weekend guests and short city-breaks – often Norwegians and Scandinavians. Fortunately, we still have many international guests and this is again increasing rapidly as we speak.”

What about sustainability?

Our management team has always been environmentally conscious. Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel was the first hotel of size to receive the Norwegian Swan Eco label for our consideration of the environment. Our former Environment Minister Børge Brende was impressed when he visited us in 2003 and handed us the award during a ceremony here at The Top. Even then, our philosophy was that thinking green and sustainability was good, not just for the planet, but also for business; these days this is taken for granted and rightfully so.”

What should your hotel guests see in Oslo?

“Staying with us at Oslo Plaza gives you easy access to all the nearby city attractions as well as the suburban nature, all within walking distance. I strongly recommend a stroll up to Grünerløkka, where you will find an array of small restaurants, wine bars and a cozy semi-urban environment and atmosphere.”

On Top of the World in the Capital of Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg.

All images © Daily Scandinavian / Tor Kjolberg, except feature image (on top), photo by Radisson Blue Plaza and architect illustration of new outdoor terrace.

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