Image (c) ioconf.no
Our reviews of Norwegian hotels are a bit like London buses – you wait ages for one to turn up and then three come along together. Well, in quick succession anyway. Hot on the heels of our review of the Clarion Hotel Trondheim and the Park Inn Oslo we’re back in the land of the midnight sun to let you know what we thought of the Radisson Blu Royal Garden in Trondheim. Something of a local landmark, the Royal Garden lost its crown as the biggest hotel in town to the aforementioned Clarion but it has a few aces up its sleeve like a more central location and a swimming pool. On the other hand, it is beginning to show its ages and our last stay at the property in 2010 was something of a minor disaster in terms of both facilities and service. Putting the past where it belongs, it was time to see what the Radisson could offer in 2012 to compete with the glut of new hotels in Trondheim.
You’ve had quite a few stays there over the years?
Yes, and it used to be the place my family stayed when visiting from the UK before we had a house with a spare bedroom so I’ve experienced it by proxy too.
Did it not used to be home to Trondheim’s best restaurant?
That’s true. In it’s heyday (up to the early 2000s) it was home to the Prins Olav Grill which regularly won that award; but the restaurant shut its doors for several years and has now reopened with a more simple concept.
There’s more competition on that front too now of course…
Certainly, Trondheim now has its fair share of gourmet restaurants. But back to the hotel…
Image (c) opentravel.com
Radisson Blu Royal Garden Hotel, Kjøpmannsgate 73 – P.O Box 956 – 7010 Trondheim +47 73 80 30 00
Early July 2012.
Four stars (unofficial rating as Norway does not use the international star system). Opened 1984, last major renovation 2009, 298 rooms over 6 floors.
Location, location, location?
The Royal Garden has an enviable location on the river bank and has won several architectural prizes for its design – it is styled to fit in with the old wharf buildings along the waterfront. Unfortunately it doesn’t get the sun in the evenings on the riverbank side so no outdoor terrace was included; we did have a drink in the bar area which overlooks the water (and the sunny side of the river and far newer shopping centre called, appropriately enough, Solsiden (essentially ‘the sunny side’). The view was spoiled by the state of the windows, which were severely stained (we were assured this will be addressed in an upcoming refurbishment). The hotel is a few minutes waslk from the town centre, the railway station and ferry/cruise ship port. It is also on the airport bus route so transfers are easy.
What about parking?
As you should know by now, parking is extremely expensive in Trondheim (and Norway in general) but if you do have a vehicle there is a car park beneath the building or on the street outside. Rates on application to the hotel.
Why choose this place?
The location and ease of access from the airport are major factors; it is also good value with an advance purchase rate (or even better in the summer when the businessmen are absent). The fact that it has a pool may sway some visitors too – although it is no longer unique on this front either; the (more expensive) Britannia Hotel has a new pool/spa area.
Image (c) ebookers.com
There are two different types of room (Standard and Business) as well as suites. Most of the rooms have been refurbished in recent years and brought up to a decent modern standard; but there are still monster CRT TVs in most of them. In general the hotel is showing its age – not a good thing when it was built in the mid-1980s either. Anyway the room we had was a good size and had everything we needed. Room features were as follows: CRT TV, writing desk with chair, mini bar, iron, telephone, wired and wireless internet. The double bed was large and very comfortable.
No. If I remember rightly it had carpets before but in any case now there are lovely wooden floors and heated tiles in the bathroom.
The bathroom was a good size with a bath and shower and toilet but was the most old-fashioned part of the accommodation – the brown colour scheme took me back to my childhood almost instantly. It also appeared in need of some repairs with a damaged door frame and cracks in the porcelain. The hotel provides the company’s own-brand toiletries and a hair dryer.
Free internet I hope?
Yes, free to guests who log on with their room number. The service worked fine in all areas of the hotel as far as I could tell.
Bar and restaurant?
Yes – there is a downstairs bar next to the lobby and several seating areas including an atrium area with a (somewhat obscured) river view. We didn’t have the opportunity to try the restaurant but the wine list was surprisingly good and not too expensive.
Image (c) conferencemeetingvenue
Yes, they have a small (but little-used) pool and sauna facilities in the basement. It’s no Olympic size but perfectly adequate and seldom crowded, especially after breakfast.
The breakfast was included, right?
It was, and despite being a vast improvement on the last time we stayed (I’ll spare you the details) breakfast was average at best. There was enough space even at the busiest time and food did not run out, but the range of offerings was a little uninspired. And a quick tip to management – it’s all very well investing in a stacking plate warmer but it would have been an improvement if you switched it on…like the Clarion this hotel doesn’t seem to want to even try to take up the fight with the award-winning breakfast at the Rica Nidelven a stone’s throw up the road but I don’t see why they couldn’t have a go.
This was good – if I’m nit-picking they could have had an extra person at reception as the few people ahead of us definitely kept the one behind the desk occupied longer than anticipated. But basically service was above average and certainly way ahead of the Clarion.
Any points/miles to earn?
Yes, it’s a Club Carlson hotel so join up if you’re not a member. Again I was ‘mattress running’ here to gain 50,000 extra points in a summer promotion; it is well worth keeping an eye out for such offers.
Can they look after your bags after you check out?
Yes, they will be happy to do so.
Green or mean?
Not a great deal of information here, so a tough one to call. I will update this section if I get more details from the hotel.
We paid NOK 950 for a double room, but rates begin lower for advance payment and summer specials.
The verdict please your honour...
The location is great and the pool is fine. The facilities are of a good standard especially if you get a low rate.
Breakfast could be improved upon and the entire hotel is crying out for a thorough modernization (which I believe is indeed on the cards).
Well the bathroom and the CRT TV were ugly, but other than that nothing was all that bad.
It seems that Radisson has woken up to the threat of all the new kids in town by polishing up its act in Trondheim and focusing on good service and value. We enjoyed our stay here and were pleased to see that the chain’s flagship hotel in Central Norway is back on form after a few years in the hospitality wilderness. Even after all these years the Royal Garden is still perhaps a good option in Trondheim and holds its own.