Some interesting observations I made after having stayed at several hotels in Norway and Denmark for the last 1.5 weeks.
1. A lot of the hotels do not provide a kettle/jug for boiling water. If you are lucky, you will be given one upon request. My hotel in Copenhagen did not have a kettle for us. Luckily, the receptionist helped us fill up our thermos with hot water. Needless to say, there is no tea or coffee sachets in the room. However, 2 of our hotels so far have a complimentary tea and coffee service in the lobby bar. It’s nice to be able to sit at the lobby bar for a cuppa after a long blustery day of hard exploring.
2. The bathrooms seem to be designed in an odd way, of which I have yet to find a reason why. I have stayed in hotels in countries such as China, Singapore, New Zealand, the UK, and always, the shower area is either recessed or has a door to prevent the shower water from flowing to other parts of the toilet. Or you could be showering while standing in the bath tub with shower curtains. In my hotel in Copenhagen and Bergen, Norway, there isn’t such a thing! For the hotel in Copenhagen, the water drain is actually a distance a way so the shower water has to flow half way cross the bathroom! And for the hotel in Bergen, there is a floor to ceiling panel, but it covers only half the shower area! I find this design quite idiotic both for the hotel guests as well as the housekeeping staff who will have to mop up excess water on the toilet floor every day.
3. All my hotels so far have shower heads which can be extended and held in the hands if required. This is a useful thing to have, which most other hotels I have stayed at don’t provide.
4. It’s best to bring your own toiletries when staying in Scandinavia. So far, 2 out of 3 hotels did not provide any shampoo, even though the cost of the room is the same.
5. A lot of the hotels are old. The Hotel Opera in Copenhagen was built more than 100 years ago, so the room as well as the entire hotel itself looked very quaint. We enjoyed the fact that it was quaint, because to us it was a hotel with character. However, others may find it inconvenient that you have wooden floorboards that creak, lifts that take half a minute to get to the 2nd floor (and you have to open the door yourself), and metal keys that weigh a ton (instead of magnetic chip cards).
6. Almost all hotels I researched on for this trip provide buffet breakfast at no extra charge. The breakfast is pretty good. The number of hot dishes vary (mainly sausages, scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes), but all hotels seem to at least have various kinds of breads with cheeses, sliced hams and cereal. I have read that some hotels even allow guests to pack the food for lunch as well. I saw a few people doing it, but I don’t know if they were doing it secretively. I do know our 1st hotel charged NOK 40 (S$10) for a self-made packed lunch. Even if you have to pay a little bit more for the buffet breakfast, it may be a good idea to do so because eating out in Norway in particular is very expensive. You will find that most sandwiches at cafes cost at least NOK 100.
7. Cereal seems to be a big thing in Scandinavia. The amount of cereal I have eaten for breakfast since coming here is probably equivalent to the amount I have eaten for this entire year. Okay I have not been a great cereal eater but this trip has changed me! I want to try to eat more cereal and oats for a healthier start to my day. And we’re talking about real cereal here, not the Kokocrunch or fruit loops type. Beetroot seems popular in Norway too. I have been stuffing myself with beetroot because it has a lot of vitamins and isn’t widely available in Singapore! It changes the colour of your pee, beware!
8. Hotel staff in Norway aren’t all that friendly. We encountered one lovely lady who took 5 minutes to explain to us what was available to do on the weekends. But most others give the impression that their job is to answer one question and one question only. If they were talking to their colleagues before you disturbed them, they would resume chatting after your 1st question was done. There would be no “is there anything else I can help you with sir/mdm”, which forces you to do some mental calculations on whether it is worth it to continue asking your 2nd question. The staff we encountered in Denmark were nice, but we did stay in only 1 hotel.
9. Most hotels are only 6 or 7 storeys high so there is actually no need to ask for a room on a high floor. The more important question would be to ask for a floor with the best view possible, and one that isn’t facing a noisy street.
I will have the opportunity to experience 2 more hotels in Norway. This list may be updated if my observations change.