Britannia rules for luxury in Trondheim

After almost three years of renovation, the Britannia Hotel once again impresses

Brittania Hotel

Photo: Wil Lee-Wright / Britannia Hotel
This striking white domed building at the heart of Trondheim, Britannia Hotel, has emerged from years of renovation as a leader among luxury hotels worldwide.

David Nikel
Trondheim, Norway

This striking white domed building at the very heart of Trondheim opened in 1870 to cater to the British upper classes, who were lured to the region by the salmon fishing opportunities in the rivers of Trøndelag. While the new-look Britannia Hotel will be hoping to attract a wider range of guests than wealthy Brits, it still aims squarely at the luxury market.

Such was the buzz during the renovation that the Britannia was admitted to the “Leading Hotels of the World” group before it even reopened its doors, becoming only the fifth Scandinavian hotel to join the exclusive group. It now counts New York’s Knickerbocker, the Bellagio Towers of Las Vegas, and the Malibu Beach Inn among its extended family.

“Britannia Hotel has a special place in my heart and I’m very satisfied and proud that we can re-open as a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Only the absolute best hotels in the world can become a member. I’ve stayed at several Leading Hotels throughout the years, and I’ve always been impressed by the high level of service that I experience at the member hotels,” said the hotel’s owner, Odd Reitan. One of Norway’s richest people, Reitan made his money in retail but dreamed of owning the Britannia since the age of 14. Now 67, he has invested more than NOK 1 billion ($115 million) to make that dream a reality.

The result is undeniably impressive. The 257 rooms range from a 270-square-foot guest room with king-size bed and workspace, right through to the 1,120-square-foot signature suites and the opulent tower penthouse complete with private kitchen and dining room.

A good night’s sleep

If there’s anything the new-look Britannia can promise, it’s a good night’s sleep. That’s because in every guest room, a Hästens bed takes pride of place. The handmade Swedish bedmaker produces comfortable beds and mattresses that are hand sewn, consisting of the finest natural materials such as cotton, wool, flax, pine, and horse hair.

“When we choose suppliers to the Britannia Hotel we try to find similar values and things we have in common. Obviously the quality of the product needs to be top class, which definitely is the case with Hästens. It’s an internationally recognized brand that has a long and rich history, like the Britannia, and it is family owned and has perfected sleep quality for 166 years,” said a hotel spokesperson. The luxury experience in the guest rooms extends to the bathrooms, which are finished in Carrara marble.

Britannia Hotel

Photo: Wil Lee-Wright / Britannia Hotel

Dine like nowhere else in Trondheim

Equal attention has been paid to the hotel’s dining options, which go far beyond the typical Scandinavian breakfast buffet. One of the reasons is that the hotel wants to engage with locals, becoming not just overnight accommodation but a meeting place for the whole city.

Bocuse d’Or silver winner Christopher Davidsen has been brought in to mastermind the operation. The wine bar cellar aims to give visitors a taste of what’s on offer, with cheese and tapas offered alongside a choice of thousands of bottles of wine.

For a meal, there’s the choice of the elegant Speilsalen restaurant, French-inspired brasserie, or the more casual Jonathan Grill. The latter is the first restaurant in Norway to feature Japanese smoke-free grills. Guests can cook their own meat, fish, seafood, and vegetables just the way they like it. There’s also an a la carte option with a “near or far” choice including scallops from the local fjord or Japanese Kobe beef.

To top it off, the finger sandwiches and tiered cake stands of afternoon tea served in the airy Palmehaven lounge recalls the hotel’s beginnings as a destination for the British upper classes. Naturally, the tea is provided by Twinings of London.

As a Trondheim resident for the last six years, seeing a hotel with a doorman has taken some getting used to! There’s no denying the Britannia is an outstanding hotel that will attract a new kind of visitor to the city. Rooms start from around $235 per night, which compares favorably to other top-end hotels in Scandinavia.

David Nikel is a freelance writer based in Norway. He runs the popular website and podcast and is the author of the Moon Norway guidebook, available now in all good bookstores.

This article originally appeared in the May 17, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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David Nikel

David Nikel is a freelance writer based in Norway. He runs the popular website and podcast and is the author of the Moon Norway guidebook, available now in all good bookstores.