Bryggen, the historic wharf area of Bergen, Norway, dates back to about 1070, and although none of the buildings survived from that time, there are a few that date back to the 1700s. It was in the middle of this UNESCO World Heritage Site (for Culture) that I decided to stay for an additional night following a cruise. After two weeks of pampering and stress-free travel, finding a central location, with easy access to the airport for an early morning flight, was the overriding factor in deciding where to stay.
The 342 room Radisson Blu Royal Hotel is located in the heart of historic Bryggen, blending into the rows of painted wood buildings that the city is famous for. The location is picturesque, is near the cruise terminal, is an easy walk to the central business area, numerous cafes and restaurants, shopping, artist galleries, and the famous fish market. A shuttle to the airport (about $14 per person, one way) picks up directly outside the front door for the 20 minute trip. The location is perfect for exploring this historical Norwegian city.
There is a downside, however, to this perfect location. It is also one of the busiest spots in the city. In fact, it is the third most visited attraction in Norway. When crusie ships are in port it can be especially crowded. Does the upside outweigh the downside? For a one or two night stay, I think it does.
Radisson Blu hotels are known for their chic, modern style, and each offers a location specific twist on the corporate theme. The Royal’s lobby has lots of low-backed seating arranged in conversational groups. The area has heavy drapery and dim lighting, so the low-backed furniture helps give it a spacious feel. The hotel offers free wifi, so it was not unusual to see visitors checking devices and hanging out in the lobby. It’s a relaxing spot mid-afternoon into the evening, but during morning check out times, it’s noisy and crowded.
The check in area features free standing desks and lots of a light, in sharp contrast to the lobby area. The front desk staff spoke English, were cheerful, and were helpful in arranging an early check-in after we left the ship.
Scandinavian and Nordic hotel rooms make me a little crazy. I like the sleek, non-cluttered look of the room. It helps make a spacious, uncrowded feel. But there are no drawers or closets in which to put your clothes and stuff. No drawers in the nightstand, a drop down desk with no drawer, no closet, no dresser, nothing. Well, not nothing, there were four pegs on a wall where you could hang a coat. The net result of this is that you have to live out of your suitcase, thereby messing up the room and cluttering up the once uncrowded room. To be fair, this is not just an issue at the Radisson Blu, I experienced it in a number of hotels in Northern Europe. And, we were only there for one night so we didn’t need to unpack. Still, it makes me crazy and is part of the reason why I think the hotel is fine for a night or two, but I wouldn’t recommend it for an extended stay. (Note: I’m told that the Royal does have rooms that offer drawers, it’s an upgrade apparently, but I didn’t see one.)
Only a few rooms have a water view, and most have no view at all. The hotel was built around the historical buildings in a way that was consistent with the design and environment. It’s likely you’ll have a close up view of one of these buildings.
The bathroom was equally sleek in design, which means you’ll have to keep yourself organized to avoid clutter, but I don’t find that it makes me as crazy as not having drawers in the room. Shower toiletries were plentiful and of mid-range quality, and a shaving/make up mirror was also convenient. The shower is a floor-to-ceiling walk in one, similar to what might be found in an accessible one. If you need a tub, this might be a deal breaker for you. Also, it means you’ll need to use a little extra care so as not to splash around too much and cover the floor with water. Not that I did that or anything.
The hotel has a fitness center and spa, business center, two restaurants, and bar on site.
Most everything you’ll want to see in Bergen is nearby. Walk around the wharf, learn about its history at the Bryggen Museum, get an overview of the area with a hop on/hop off tour, take the funicular to the top of Mount Floyen, and find the freshest seafood at the fish market. Wander the cobblestone streets and alleyways, browse the galleries, sip coffee at a local cafe. Everything is at your fingertips from the Radisson Blu Royal, and that’s the reason we chose to stay there.
The Radisson Blu Royal Hotel is located at Bryggen 5, Bergen N-5835, Norway. Summer rates start around $165 per night, double occupancy, and include breakfast. If you’re leaving early, let the front desk know, and they’ll have a breakfast to-go bag for you. Rates drop in the winter. You can also compare rates and book through Expedia or Hotels.com.
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