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Hotel Review – Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim, Norway

Image (c) Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim, Norway

We figured it was about time we covered some hotels in Norway, on account of the fact that Grown-up Travel Guide.com is based in, er, Norway. Even better, the opening of the biggest congress hotel in the country right here in our home town of Trondheim gave us the perfect excuse for some truly local coverage. Trondheim has a lot of hotels but clearly there is more demand than supply – mainly from the business and conference crowd – hence the opening of several new properties.

None has been more controversial than this one. It is huge and depending on your taste either hideously ugly or bold and daring. Opinion is very divided on this aspect, for me I found it quite interesting but I dislike the fact that it completely blocks the view of Pirbadet, Trondheim’s indoor water park right behind it which is a far more attractive building. Still, its location and size allows the hotel to offer views over the fjord from many of its rooms. It also houses a large live music venue/conference hall.

By the water? That’s not very central then?

Look, Trondheim’s not exactly Tokyo. You can walk to the centre of town in ten to fifteen minutes and even less to Solsiden, the popular shopping and restaurant area. There is a shuttle bus service too if you can’t handle such distances.

It is also very handy if you are arriving by cruise ship, as the terminal is in the same area. For all those lovers of Norwegian pop and rock music (there are some) it is also next to Rockheim, a new addition to the Trondheim cultural scene in the form of an interactive music museum. You know, you can play the guitar along with one of Norway’s rockers, fiddle with things etc. It’s actually very good fun and well designed, even if your knowledge of Norwegian music is limited to aha and a few ‘null points’ efforts at Eurovision. That’s perhaps a little harsh given that a certain Alexander Rybak still holds the record for the most points awarded when he annihilated the rest of the contenders in 2009.

Getting back on track here if you would – this must be the newest hotel you’ve stayed at then?

Yes, it opened a couple of weeks before we visited which does account for some of the teething troubles. I’ve actually been there twice; once to check out the bar and live music and once to stay.

The local newspaper carried an advert for an opening offer with heavily discounted rooms for a few weeks after opening which was very popular. We were not the only guests who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Clarion Hotels are part of the Choice chain in Scandinavia which in turn is owned by Petter Stordalen, a flamboyant (other adjectives also apply) millionaire who is not exactly shy of publicity – a sort of poor man’s Richard Branson.

Image (c) Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim, Norway

He laughed off all criticism of the hotel’s design and made a lot of noise about his recruitment policy for staffing the establishment which was to have an ‘audition’ process to find the most talented workers. We’ll return to this later…

Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim, Brattørkaia1, 7010 Trondheim +47 73 92 55 00

Website: http://www.clariontrondheim.com/starten

Email: cl.trondheim@choice.no

When?

Late May 2012.

Vital stats:

Four stars (unofficial rating as Norway does not use the international star system). Opened 2012, 400 rooms and 3 suites over 9 floors.

Location, location, location?

Situated right next to the terminal for cruise ships at the dock area north of the city centre, the hotel is a ten minute walk from town. Public buses pass close by and the main train station is also within walking distance. Note that a pedestrian bridge is under construction which will link the station (and thus the town centre) with the Brattøra area which will make it even more convenient. Airport buses stop at the hotel in both directions if you are arriving by air. Pirbadet and Rockheim are basically next door, and there is a supermarket over the road.

Image (c) Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim, Norway

The best part of the location is the view over the water; you may be able to enjoy this from your room but the Skybar (above) is more spectacular.

What about parking?

Parking is ruinously expensive in Trondheim (and Norway in general) at the best of times but if you have to there are 300 spaces under the hotel. Rates on application to the hotel.

Why choose this place?

We were curious to try Trondheim’s newest hotel. Yet there are plenty of reasons for picking this place – be it the proximity to Pirbadet, Rockheim, the cruise terminal or the railway station, the waterfront location or perhaps because of a gig in the concert hall.

Room

Image (c) Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim, Norway

There are four different types of room – Single, Double, Superior and Deluxe as well as several suites. We were booked into a Double and paid for an extra bed for our daughter. The room was modern and well-equipped but small – even without the extra bed it would have been cramped. Room features were as follows: LCD flat-screen TV, iPod dock, kettle, writing desk with chair, mini bar, iron, telephone, wired and wireless internet. The main bed was big and very comfortable, the additional bed was hard but did the trick.

Carpets?

Yes. This baffled me as they are not shown in the promotional images and not usual in Norwegian hotels. The carpets were clean (they could not have been used much given how new the property was) so that was fine but I’d much rather have had wooden floors.

Bathroom

The bathroom was small with a shower and toilet and supplied with the company’s own-brand toiletries. Hair dryer provided. Underfloor heating but no shower door at all. It would seem that the architects had finally given up trying to prevent leaking shower cubicles by not bothering to install anything to stop it.

Free internet I hope?

Yes, free to guests who receive a code at reception. If you are belong to the Nordic Choice Club loyalty programme you can use your membership number to log on which is a nice touch. The service worked fine in all areas of the hotel as far as I could tell.

Bar and restaurant?

Yes – there is a bar next to the lobby which has live music during the week, which is a great idea. (In the interests of full disclosure I should point out the extremely talented vocalist is a friend of ours but this did not sway our opinion). There is also a restaurant on the same floor. On the 9th is the ‘Skybar’ – a slightly over-the-top name but it does have great views. Another restaurant is also found here and early reports have been very positive, despite the extremely high prices (even for Norway). The bar prices are of course steep too. We didn’t try the restaurant but ordered food from the bar menu downstairs. We were not at all impressed, especially for the price. Even worse, the service was amateur to say the least. Seeing that my wife had finished her food the waiter collected her plate and wanted to take my glass, which I hadn’t finished. He then encouraged me to drink it up so he could save himself another trip. To top it all when I had finished we went upstairs to try the Skybar. Returning after some time to catch more of the live music we found that my plate – leftovers and all – was still on the table…

Pool, sauna?

No pool but Pirbadet is next door. This is very expensive for a quick dip though; some kind of discount for hotel guests would be a good idea. The hotel now offers packages with accommodation and entry to Pirbadet but there are no options for the more spontaneous.

The breakfast was included, right?

Yes, but here again we were very disappointed. The breakfast area is far too small for a 400-room hotel and finding a table was not easy. Either the hotel was chronically understaffed at breakfast or those working were extremely inefficient, or – unfortunately as seemed to be the case – both. Tables were piled high with used dishes and glasses which guests had to stack up to make space for their own. The food offered was uninviting and kept running out. Were those not powdered scrambled eggs? Please! With the Rica Nidelven hotel a couple of hundred yards down the road which has won the prize for best hotel breakfast many years in a row it was always going to be hard to compete, but they really seem to have simply thrown in the towel here. I’ve had better breakfast experiences at hostels – and certainly better service.

Service

You’ve got the point already I think. As well as the aforementioned examples reception was understaffed at both check-in and check-out so the queues were long and tempers frayed. And look; if we are standing in a line and a guest has the nerve to go right up to you and say ‘this will only take a second’ you do not stop serving your customer and address them! Exactly what ‘talents’ did your auditions identify, Mr Stordalen? You don’t need magicians, you know, you need hotel staff.

Any points/miles to earn?

Yes, Nordic Choice Club members earn points based on monetary spend. While separate from the US Choice system it’s still quite a good one for Scandinavia and of course you should join at the hotel if you are not already a member.

Can they look after your bags after you check out?

Yes, they certainly can.

Green or mean?

Choice do push their green credentials and this property is no exception. Indeed it is one of the few building in Norway to have been rated Environmental Class ‘A’. All breakfasts are organic, although it is unclear whether this includes the powdered eggs…

The Damage

We paid NOK 650 for a double room as an opening offer, but standard rates begin at around NOK 1000 depending on the season and day of the week.

 

The verdict please your honour...

The Good

The Skybar is unique in Trondheim and has wonderful views. Live music in the lobby bar is a nice feature. The room was comfortable enough, if a little small.

The Bad

Food in the bar was simply not worth the price. The breakfast area was too small.

The Ugly

The service was bad from start to finish.

Closing comments:

We enjoyed our stay at the Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim despite the staff seemingly being determined to spoil it for us. The hotel itself is a good alternative in Trondheim but there is work to be done. particularly on the service side.

Final score: 4/6

Please note: The author travelled as a regular tourist – no mention was made of the fact that a review would be written, the establishment was not informed of the author’s intentions and no special discounts were enjoyed. This is a vital part of our aim to provide impartial and comprehensive advice.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kari Hänninen

    I am well inform to this hotel from location up to sauna and other stuff,those are very good info,for sure if someone read this they will also get interested,specially the location i see it very cool.

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