Landmark hotel finishing facelift

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Oslo’s venerable Hotel Continental is in the process of reopening luxurious accommodation in the heart of Norway’s capital, after a NOK 400 million renovation project. As its new rooms continue to open this month, hotel owner Elisabeth Brochmann shared some insight into unusual requests from high-profile guests over the years.

Hotel Continental is one of the few Norwegian hotels to make it into some top international rankings. It's not included, however, in the new hotel booking system just launched by Innovation Norway. PHOTO: Views and News

Hotel Continental has undergone a major renovation that’s due to be finished this month. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, for example, who stayed at the hotel earlier this year in connection with the Stones concert at Telenor Arena, required an L-shaped sofa on which two people could lie down with their heads meeting in the corner. “We had to run right out and buy that sort of new lounge sofa,” Brochmann told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) as the remodeling project wound down last month.

Diana Ross, once married to the late Norwegian mountain climber Arne Næss, demanded specific colours on the walls of her room and didn’t want much furniture in it. Elton John, a good friend of Norwegian investor and businessman Christen Sveaas, wanted fat-free yoghurt, but ended up ordering eggs and bacon every day.

Teen idol Justin Bieber “shook up the whole house” when he visited during a not-so-secret trip to Oslo in 2012, because of all the screaming teenage girls who surrounded the building. “We had to close off all the entrances with police offices, because otherwise we’d be invaded by hysterical 14-year-olds,” Brochmann told DN.

The King of Jordan, Abdullah II, lined up motorcycles outside the hotel as he prepared for a road tour, while singer Robbie Williams secretly stayed at the hotel a few years ago and only used back entrances and employee elevators to avoid being spotted by other hotel guests. “Our chamber maids and waiters were rather surprised when the elevator door opened into their company canteen and he strolled out,” Brochmann said.

Fourth-generation owner
It’s all part of running one of Oslo’s top-rated and most expensive hotels. She’s the fourth generation of the family owning Hotel Continental to also run it, after taking over from her mother in 1985. She and her mother still own all the shares in the hotel and have resisted acquisition although the hotel is Norway’s only member of the luxury chain Leading Hotels of the World.

DN reported that the Brochmanns have earned nearly NOK 80 million running the hotel during the past six years and have now invested NOK 400 million in its rehabilitation over the past four years. Walls have been torn down, 66 new rooms created, new chandeliers hung and new artwork by among others Damien Hirst adorns the walls.

“We’re primarily a business hotel,” she told DN, so she strives for a professional atmosphere. The hotel retains its sedate air first instilled when it opened in 1900, although things can get lively in its famous Theatercaféen on the ground floor. Business is good at both the hotel and its restaurants: “It’s so full here that we often don’t have a single empty room,” she said and claims she’ll never sell the hotel: “I get nice offers all the time, but politely say ‘no thank you.'”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund