The Thief Hotel, a new benchmark for luxury hotels?
By Youri Sawerschel, Founder of Creative Supply & Brand Strategist
As the definition of luxury is ever evolving, we ask ourselves: Who will be the next big thing? We picked the hotel brands that, we believe, have the potential to make history. Discover The Thief.
From criminal hub to exclusive destination
The Thief is the brainchild of Petter Stordalen, a Norwegian self-made billionaire and owner of Nordic Choice Hotel, one of Scandinavia's largest hotel chain. Stordalen wanted to make "something really different in Oslo". The hotel name comes from the Tjuvholmen neighbourhood, which translates to "thieves island"(in the 18th century, the area was a hub for criminals). Tjuvholmen can be accessed by waterways. Several yachts are docked in the hotel's surrounding canals, including the Thief's own fleet of two luxurious Riva motor boats.
Stealing you away from everyday life
With two restaurants, two bars (including a rooftop one), a spa and several function rooms, The Thief ticks all the boxes of a luxury hotel. At the heart of the Thief is a story of luxury escapism. In a country known for its natural beauty and minimalist design, The Thief stands out with its modern opulent interior. It takes Scandinavian design to extravagant territories – in which black and gold are kings. Sune Nordgren, the former director of Norway's National Museum of Art has handpicked original artwork for the hotel facilities and each of the 118 rooms. Artworks from the likes of Andy Warhol, Charles Ray or Richard Prince are to be found in every corner of the hotel – including video art in the elevators. About 75% of the hotel customers are travelling for business. Proof that a hotel doesn't need to look and feel like a corporate office to attract business people.
Luxury with a soul
From an interior point of view, the hotel has nothing to envy from the best properties in London, Paris or New York. Yet, The Thief has something that very few hotels possess – a soul. Unlike many stiff and intimidating luxury hotels, The Thief welcomes its guests with a notable laid-back attitude. Wearing dreadlocks and a fitted suit, Dominic Gorham, the hotel guest relations manager is the perfect incarnation of this casual luxury atmosphere. In a promotional video, he emphasised that The Thief doesn't have a rulebook for its staff. It rather gives space for its people to be at their best. The hotel is not particularly trendy though. It just feels like a luxurious hideaway for the wealthy. Daniel Setekleiv concludes: "We are not trying to please the mass market".
Devil is in the detail
During our stay, we were impressed by small service details that had a big impact. At turndown service, for example, a thermos of hot water with 2 cups of tea and biscuits were put in the room. Another example is the breakfast. Its buffet is grandiose and features everything from chia seed pudding to Benedict eggs, and it runs until midday on Sundays. Finally, the in-room shopping is a concept worth mentioning. Nested in a drawer, a selection of travel necessities as well as original objects can be found.
Next on the to-do list of The Thief is the launch of a series of virtual reality videos. These will be used as promotional tools. Daniel notes that "we are trying to use technology to tell stories, not just for convenience". With its fresh take on the luxury hotel business, The Thief stole our heart. It should be a source of inspiration for some of the big brands that have lost their authenticity. While the Thief is meant to remain a one-off project, we will make sure to follow the next independent projects of Petter Stordalen. He has the expertise, the funds and more than anybody else it seems, the passion to make a difference.