Photo: Broadstone

This Food-Focused Norway Hotel Has a Michelin-Star Restaurant and the Country's 'Best Breakfast'

Epic Stays
by Alex Bresler Oct 17, 2023

We hope you love the Britannia Hotel! So you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

I checked into the Britannia Hotel in Trondheim, Norway, with a slight cold. I was tired, congested, and run down from a back-to-back wedding weekend in Seattle and three-day cruise on the Norwegian coast. All I wanted to do when I got to the hotel was slip into a warm bath, eat a nourishing meal, and get a good night’s sleep before my flight home to San Francisco.

When I entered my room in the hotel’s historic building, I was too distracted by a plate of macarons wrapped neatly in front of a floor-to-ceiling mirror to notice that there was no tub in the bathroom. There was a TV remote on the desk but, curiously, no TV. I clicked the remote as I sunk my teeth into a perfectly airy yet densely chewy raspberry macaron. A screen appeared in the mirror. It was the first mirror TV I’d seen in person and the last technology I expected to find in a hotel dating back to 1897.

Superior 1897 Room
Photo: Studio Dryer Hensley
Superior 1897 Room
Photo: Studio Dryer Hensley

From the outside, the Britannia Hotel looks as stately, pale, and polished as the White House. That’s the historic building where roughly half of the hotel’s 200-plus rooms are located, as well as the grand reception area, spa, and six different dining and drinking concepts, including a one-Michelin-star restaurant housed in a former ballroom, a French-style brasserie, a cellar-style wine bar, and one of the city’s classiest cocktail bars. The current hotel, which reopened in 2019 after extensive renovations, also connects to an impressive new building that doubles its capacity.

Whether you stay in the new or historic building, the Britannia Hotel promises classical luxury and state-of-the-art amenities. Rooms without mirror TVs, for example, may have retractable ones built into marble counters, and the high-tech elevators are operated by touchscreens. Some modern touches exemplify the hotel’s hospitality rather than its technological refurbishments, such as the pillow menu that allows guests to personalize the hotel’s cloud-like Hästens beds as part of the nightly turndown service.

After selecting my ideal sleeping accouterments for the evening and finishing off the plate of freshly baked welcome pastries, my excitement ebbed into a sniffly sigh when I discovered the shower-only bathroom in my Superior 1897 Room — until I remembered the hotel spa.

Britannia Spa
Photo: Wil Lee-Wright
Britannia Spa
Photo: Wil Lee-Wright

Guests of any Scandinavian luxury hotel likely expect the spa to have a sauna, but the spa at the Britannia Hotel has three: a dry Nordic sauna, a wet sauna, and an infrared cabin, which share a space with a steam room and ice bath that’s adjacent to the spa’s lap and mineral pools. A handful of treatment rooms and a 24-hour fitness center with complimentary group offerings, such as yoga and spin classes, round out the wellness experiences at the Britannia Hotel.

I beelined for the saunas, hoping that they might clear my sinuses, before moving to the mineral pool for the soak I’d been craving. The balmy waters calmed my aching joints while the astral lights dome overhead soothed my regrets over having missed the northern lights on the cruise I’d taken earlier in the week.

The last thing I needed to recuperate fully was a good meal. That evening, the group of journalists I was traveling with met at the hotel’s Jonathan Grill for a steakhouse experience anchored by Japanese-barbecue-style grills. We began our meal with small bites centered on scallops and langoustines, two seafoods for which Trondheim is renowned. Dry-aged steak was plattered up for the main, which we each grilled to our preferred doneness right there at the table, alternating slices of perfectly marbled meat with forkfuls of buttery mashed potatoes, saucy mushrooms, and braised cabbage.

Jonathan Grill
Photo: Lars Petter Pettersen
Photo: Wil Lee-Wright

Each course was accompanied by a wine pairing that hinted at the hotel’s impressive collection. A fuller representation awaits guests who visit Vinbaren, the hotel’s wine bar, whose walls are lined with bottles of some of the world’s most coveted vintages. Instead, for an after-dinner drink, my group headed upstairs to the Britannia Bar, where leather-bound booklets describe signature cocktails that pay meticulously researched tribute to the history of Trondheim and the hotel itself.

The Britannia Bar’s cocktail menu was nominated as the Best Cocktail Menu in Norway at the Nordic-focused Bartenders’ Choice Awards in 2020. But it’s not the most impressive food-and-beverage acclaim that hotel has received. That honor goes to the Palmehaven restaurant, which won the Twinings Best Breakfast in Norway award in 2022 alongside fellow Trondheim hotel Scandic Nidelven.

Photo: Studio Dryer Hensley
Britannia Bar
Photo: Studio Dryer Hensley

The beautifully curated breakfast buffet is relatively small, which helps to keep the service more sustainable, alongside a la cart options such as eggs royale with fine Nordic smoked salmon, vegan crêpes with coconut cream, and caviar and morning bubbly for those interested. Palmehaven, which is set inside a palatial indoor courtyard-style hall dating to 1918, also serves lunch, puts on a kid-friendly afternoon tea service, and stages Artist in Residence concerts throughout the year.

I didn’t have a chance to try the breakfast during my brief stay at the Britannia Hotel. In part, that’s because my flight was very early in the morning, but it’s also because I wanted to spend every last minute I could in what has to be the most comfortable hotel bed I’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping in.

But hey, there’s always next time. Because you better believe I’m going to return to a hotel that’s so comfortable it can cure the common cold.

Where: Dronningens gate 5, 7011 Trondheim, Norway
Price per night: From $230

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