Britannia Hotel in Trondheim, Norway: A Northern Palace Hotel

Originally opened in the fjord-side city of Trondheim in 1870 to accommodate wealthy, salmon-fishing Britons, the Britannia Hotel reopened in April 2019 after a four-year, $160 million renovation. Now, the decidedly glamorous property — a member of The Leading Hotels of the World — is ready to welcome a new generation of affluent travelers.

The Britannia, which is just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle and is widely recognized as the world’s most northerly palace hotel, comprises 257 rooms and suites across several categories. All of the rooms are elegantly and individually decorated and feature a mix of rich textures. For more space, book one of the hotel’s two Signature Suites, located on the third and fifth floors and featuring views of the city’s old post office (its architect, Karl Norum, also designed the Britannia building). Each Signature Suite has one bedroom and a large marble bathroom and offers the option to connect to a Superior 1897 Room for an additional bedroom and bathroom. (Slightly smaller Executive Suites also offer the connecting option.) Because there are only two Signature Suites, it’s best to book them as far ahead as possible. 

The Britannia Hotel has 257 rooms and suites. Shown above is a Signature Suite. //  Photo by Dreyer and Hensley

When nothing but the best suite will do, request Britannia’s new one-bedroom Tower Suite. It has separate dining and living rooms, a fireplace, a raised seating area with a baby grand piano and private elevator access. It can also connect to 14 additional guestrooms, which makes it the ideal pick for celebs, CEOs and other high-profile guests who are traveling with an entourage or staff. 

For a stay in any room or suite during the busy months of June, August, September, October and December, plan to book at least a couple months out. Contact booking manager Kristin Haave ([email protected]; 011-479-080-9891) or front office manager Live Lorck ([email protected]; 011-477-380-0800) to make room reservations. 

In addition to its guestrooms’ chic new interiors, Britannia’s renovation brought with it an all-new six-treatment-room spa, which is overseen by Nadine Drechsel ([email protected]; 011-474-763-2850). She can advise guests about the most fitting treatments, many of which use luxe products by two of our favorite lines, Elemis and Voya. Signature treatments include the Body & Face Renewal (a relaxing massage and customized facial) and the Stress-Busting Back Massage, which incorporates targeted massaging, cupping and warm mineral mud, and is a great way to fight the stiffness that sets in during the long, transatlantic flight to Norway. 

The Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim is considered the world’s 
northernmost medieval cathedral. // Photo by Shutterstock / saiko3p

Britannia’s staff tell us it’s wise to book spa treatments a week in advance when possible, especially for weekend visits. Be sure to set aside some time to enjoy the spa’s relaxation room (its walls are covered in pretty greenery), its mineral pool, which sits beneath an astral dome; plus, its heated lap pools, Nordic saunas, steam room and infrared cabin. There’s also a gym staffed with personal trainers, so you can stay dedicated to your workout routine. 

Norway’s third-largest city, Trondheim is emerging as one of Scandinavia’s — arguably Europe’s — most exciting new culinary destinations, and Britannia is a serious player in the city’s dining scene. One can’t-miss meal in town is dinner at Britannia’s own Speilsalen, which debuted along with the renovation this spring. The restaurant’s ace team includes chef and 2017 Bocuse d’Or silver medalist Christopher Davidsen (it’s his first signature restaurant) and four-time Norwegian wine sommelier champion Henrik Dahl Jahnsen. A highlight of our stay at the hotel was sitting down in the exquisitely decorated restaurant for Chef Davidsen’s 10-course tasting menu, complete with wine pairings. Note that Speilsalen’s menu will change four to fives times throughout the year, and as needed, to showcase the best-quality local ingredients. 

The Spa has six treatment rooms, a heated lap pool, sauna, steam room, ice bath, mineral pool, gym and infrared cabin. //  Photo by Dreyer and Hensley

Guests can make reservations at Speilsalen by contacting Ida Dønheim ([email protected]; 011-479-889-0174), Britannia’s restaurant director. For an intimate experience at Speilsalen, contact Linn Kristin Pettersen ([email protected]; 011-477-380-0805), the restaurant’s hostess, to book its chef’s table, which seats one to four guests, or one of two glass-enclosed chambre séparée, which seat up to eight and 12 guests, respectively. (Round tables throughout the restaurant seat four to six guests.) While dining in the larger of the chamber séparée, we enjoyed watching Speilsalen’s servers, chefs and sommeliers move gracefully around the room from our own semi-private setting. 

Speilsalen is already popular with hotel guests and locals alike, so hotel staff say it’s advisable to make reservations several weeks in advance. Note that the restaurant is closed Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, and for three weeks in July. 

Speilsalen isn’t the only on-site restaurant worth trying: More casual options include the bistro-style Brasserie Britannia (think French classics, such as croque monsieur and onion soup); Palmehaven, a grand dining room that’s open for breakfast (the buffet spread is impressive), Saturday afternoon tea, and, periodically throughout summer, lunch and dinner buffets. At the hotel’s Jonathan Grill, guests can cook their own meat, seafood, fish and vegetables atop Japanese smoke-free grills — a fun and lively atmosphere for families, couples and groups alike. Tip: The restaurant also has an à la carte section for guests who’d rather let the chefs do the cheffing. 

Whether you’re a bona fide oenophile or casually enjoy wine, head to the hotel’s Vinbaren, whose cellars hold some 10,000 bottles. (Wine dinners are held here occasionally, too.) If cocktails are more your speed, make your way to the Britannia Bar. Bar manager Øyvind Lindgjerdet dazzled us with his knowledge of spirits and delighted our taste buds with cocktails made from Scandinavia’s signature spirit, aquavit. Regardless of where you decide to dine or imbibe, you can rest assured that your beverage choices will be taken seriously — Britannia’s F&B staff includes beer, wine and sake sommeliers. Even the hotel’s general manager, Mikael Forselius, is a sommelier.

The Wharves are seen along River Nidelva in Trondheim. // Photo by Shutterstock / Katepax

Trondheim’s dining scene earned all-new cred this year when two of its restaurants — Credo and Fagn — earned the city’s first-ever Michelin stars. Ask Britannia’s concierges, Sten Stensrud and Emma Brødreskift ([email protected]; 011-474-692-6931) to assist with restaurant reservations, and give them as much advance notice as possible. But when it comes to dining in Trondheim, we found that Michelin stars aren’t necessarily everything. Chef Reneé Fagerhøi’s Bula Bistro blew us away with its funky interiors and make-you-cry comfort food, and To Rom og Kjokken (translation: Two Rooms and a Kitchen) wowed us with unique cocktails (Tip: Try the refreshing Kyoto cocktail), caught-that-day seafood, and melt-in-your-mouth pasta, all so artfully prepared. 

If you truly want to eat the way locals do, ask Britannia’s concierge to arrange a day trip to Sula, Bogøy, Frøya, Hitra and other tiny islands in the Øyrekka archipelago with a local tour operator — we booked with Crazy Coyote and Wold Kysttransport. After a 90-minute ride across Trondheim Fjord aboard a speeding RIB boat, you’ll visit cozy restaurants, pubs and even the homes of locals for a taste of Norway like you’ve never known before. Traveling with a young fan of the movie Frozen? The concierge team can arrange a day trip to charming Røros, the UNESCO World Heritage site that inspired the smash-hit animated film. 

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