Grand in every sense of the word, the Grand Hotel Oslo is a historic, luxury hotel in the heart of Norway’s capital. Its white granite façade and iconic clock tower looks proudly over one of the city’s main thoroughfare’s; Karl Johans Street, and since it first opened its doors in 1874 it has hosted a wide range of artists, celebrities, world leaders and, of course, Nobel Prize winners.
Without a doubt this gorgeous venue had to be the Oslo stop in my Global Afternoon Tea Challenge!
The beautiful Palmen Restaurant
Stepping through the grand entrance and into the foyer, I was surprised by the mix of old and new that greeted me – classic staircases and marble floors were juxtaposed with a modern bar, complete with a neon homage to Edvard Munch’s The Scream by renowned artist Tracy Emin.
As Justin and I walked over to the entrance of the Palmen restaurant, where afternoon tea is served, I discovered more of the same; luxurious velvet seats and an intricate glass roof, through to a specially commissioned glass chandelier and a feature wall of eye-opening modern art. I was told this was to create the setting of a ‘sophisticated boudoir’.
Personally we found the work a rather garish mishmash of colours at first, as the painting was in fact made up of 36 smaller paintings. But as we began to look closer, we found ourselves double taking – these paintings covered, well, some very ‘interesting’ topics!
Images of fairytale-esque characters like Alice in Wonderland appeared in rather compromising positions; legs akimbo and having a ‘fliddle’ in one, and another image appeared to have one man with his head literally up someone’s arse!
We had to ask the maître d‘ if our eyes were deceiving us! He explained that this was a piece by Norwegian artist Vanessa Baird entitled Try A Little Tenderness. Supposedly she was inviting viewers to escape the real world through her take on a world of fairytales inspired by the history of both the hotel itself and the city of Oslo. Hmm, interesting!
The price of afternoon tea in Oslo
Having acclimatised our repressed British selves to the revealing artwork, it was time to tear our eyes away from the orgy paintings and focus on food.
Now, eating out in Oslo is never a cheap affair, but anyone who’s enjoyed afternoon tea in London will know that stacks of sandwiches and cakes in a luxurious setting never comes at a low price!
After paying over £10 for two small hot dogs and a bottle of water, and £18 for a pizza during my city visit, I was expecting the price of afternoon tea in Oslo to be extortionate. Sure, it wasn’t at the low end of the price scale, but it was on par with high-end venues in London – expensive for an everyday meal, but affordable as a special treat, which is exactly what this was!
So, for the fact lovers, afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel Oslo costs Kr325 (approx £30) for the standard offering, Kr425 (approx £39) with a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne, or Kr625 (£58) with a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée champagne.
Our afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel Oslo
Our teas came out quickly after choosing what to have (from a limited choice), but I was disappointed that rather than fresh tea they used teabags. However, I couldn’t fault how they were presented – the entire tea was served on Wedgewood Daisy Tea Story crockery. So pretty!
But the cute crockery paled in comparison to the beauty of our afternoon tea when it was served. The myriad of sweets, mixed with large succulent strawberries and trailing pea shoots was beautifully displayed and even the sandwiches didn’t disappoint!
I say this as, when it comes to displaying an afternoon tea, there’s not really that much you can do with sandwiches! However, thanks to the variety in the savoury selection, the ‘sandwich’ tier rally caught the eye.
A great savoury afternoon tea selection
A lobster salad brioche sat next to paprika scone, which was joined by a Norwegian cheese scone, a cucumber sandwich with salmon paste, and smoked salmon, crème cheese and crab roe served on a circular bread base. There was also a fun sandwich ‘roll’ filled with Norwegian cured ham.
The hotel’s focus on design encompassed the food as much as the décor!
I particularly liked the Norwegian twist to the tea; as well as including the traditional flavours such as smoked salmon and cucumber, they included locally produced ingredients like the cured ham and cheese. The quirky additions like the paprika scone and lobster were also interesting – both had delicate flavours and were beautifully fresh.
Next up were the scones – more often than not my favourite part of afternoon tea. I have to admit I did a little squeal of delight when I discovered these were chocolate chip scones – the best kind in my opinion!
I did however miss the usual clotted cream here, as we were instead served sour whipped cream for the scones, along with cloudberry jam. Not a jam fan myself, I made Justin step up to the challenge of trying this out. His opinion? It was an enjoyable strong, sharp flavour, one that he thinks could have potentially worked well with ‘sweet’ clotted cream.
A delicate patisserie selection
Although at this stage we were both beginning to feel pretty full, I pushed on (aren’t I good to you?!) and gave the sweets a good try. As with the savouries there were a great variety of treats to try, from miniature lemon tarts and red velvet cupcakes through to a rich, nutty chocolate brownie, a vanilla tart with grape and coconut, and a strawberry macaron.
The lemon tart was just the right amount of sharp, and I did enjoy the red velvet cake despite its denseness and cake to cream cheese topping ratio (there was as much topping as cake!). However, my personal favourite was the delicious macaron with its crisp outer shell and gooey centre. Justin’s on the other hand was the coffee and honey cake. It’s light, delicate sponge just dissolved on the tongue and he loved the rich coffee flavour.
The Grand Hotel Oslo – the best afternoon tea in Oslo?
I really enjoyed everything about my visit to the Grand Hotel Oslo – the setting, the service and the food. The staff were attentive and happy to bring over hot water when we needed to top up our tea, made us feel very welcome and we never felt rushed. We spent a good few hours sitting back and enjoying the ambience, slowly working our way through the dishes and just relaxing after a busy stint of Oslo sightseeing.
Although it may not be the cheapest afternoon tea I’ve had, for Oslo I didn’t think the price was too bad, and the service and quality of food are worth the price tag. It’s a chance to experience fine dining in Oslo without breaking the bank!
The next stop on my Global Afternoon Tea Challenge will be Salutorget, Helsinki – have you been?
Find out more about afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel Oslo, or book your visit here. Our afternoon teas were complimentary for the purposes of this review. However, as always, all views are my own.