I haven’t had enough of ‘boring hotels’ yet
The lobby of our Oslo hidey-hole was maintained in a Stygian gloom. Valhalla was better lit. The interior had ghastly orange daubs of bad art hung on walls blotched with brown lumpy stuff. Not dried…? No. There was a slight twinkle from the wallsized waterfall separating the public area from the restaurant, but not enough to stop me falling down the black slate steps into the bar.
It’s “one of the coolest cocktail bars in town”, according to its own management. It doesn’t do coffee. It does cocktails. “But it’s 11 o’clock in the morning!”
Mrs Jones is adept at ferreting out these state-of-the-art hostelries. I don’t want to be this cutting-edge, though I do like being enough out of place to disconcert the clientele.
This is a sincere hotel, I will give it that. There are apples. There is free espresso. There are more cushions on the bed than there is bed. I like the extras, if not the heavy-metal bedroom ambience. Careful not to back into the lethal prickles of the 6ft cactus. How it survives the perpetual darkness is a horticultural miracle.
At the desk, Kirk, our greeter, is dressed like a mess sergeant on a galactic star ship. We are clearly privileged to be in the place at all. Books are arranged haphazardly on shelves, but they are only for show – or someone trying for a Seventies accountancy degree in Romanian.
The room, when we reach it, padding along dimly lit corridors, is a lighting showroom. A huge, comical punch ball with a 30-watt bulb is cantilevered over the available square metre of floor space. There’s a free-standing, luminous blob on one side and a jack-knifed tube that needs caressing into life on the console. The walls are painted dark grey. The doors are darker grey. The round rug is lighter grey. The floor is an alarming jet black. There is an art work with some sort of metal finish on the wall. It is a silvery grey. Glad I’m not wearing grey. I would merge. It is too dark to find the light switches.
And Amsterdam last year? I didn’t know what to make of the “art hotel” chosen to go with our art binge in that city. Its decor was visibly dating even as we stood waiting for service. You really can’t have an art hotel if your art is second-rate Eighties tosh.
The hipster crowd swanning in and out managed to make the guests seem redundant. The restaurant throbbed to retro disco. It was thronged with oddly dressed youngish fatties who were pulling shapes at the table. Fashion people, I guess. Dutch fashion people.
No waterfall here. Instead, a flaming fire ran thigh-high through the middle of the restaurant and smelt vaguely of turpentine. Service was tree-ring slow. Mind you, they had restrained themselves on the décor. Not too much black. Some grey. Lots of dark red.
This hotel had big red plastic heads instead of desks in the lobby and, worst of all, writing, in English, about “ideas” woven into the bedroom carpets. Even the carpet was urging me to be “creative”. I’m on holiday, for God’s sake. But again, exemplary services: a comfortable bed and a comprehensible television system.
A stay in Oslo prompted mixed emotions