Sep202015

Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus Harstad, Norway

Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus is one of two Nordic Choice Hotels in Arctic Norway outside of Tromso, where there are five Nordic Choice Hotels. Quality Hotel Grand Royal Narvik is the other hotel. Harstad and Narvik are accessed via Evenes Airport, midway between the two towns.

Arctic Norway is the portion of the country above 66 degrees North latitude within the Arctic Circle. I came to Harstad with the intention of going to the Lofoten Islands, considered a photographers’ paradise for jagged peaks rising out of the North Atlantic Norwegian coastline with many white sand beaches and wildlife.

Hotel Arcticus

Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus on the end of a pier in Harstad, Norway.

Hotel Arcticus-1

The hotel construction is interesting due to the building’s multipurpose nature. The entrance to the hotel is also an entrance for Harstad library and Harstad Kulturhuset, the performing arts theater.

Hotel Arcticus reception   Hotel Arcticus reception-2

Hotel Arcticus reception-3   Harstad Kulturehuset

The hotel lobby was packed on Thursday and Friday when there were theater shows. One was a St. Petersburg, Russia group and Friday night was an Elvis Presley tribute. The bottom right photo are the steps to the Kulturhuset, directly off Hotel Arcticus lobby. Bicycles seen by reception desk are complimentary use for hotel guests.

The hotel lobby has a small bar space by reception. Beer is 65 NOK ($8.00 USD), rum & coke or gin & tonic 115 NOK ($14.00 USD).

Hotel Arcticus bar   Hotel Arcticus bar-2

Dining room space for breakfast and dinner buffet

One of the most desirable attributes of this hotel for me was the view from the dining room. As a Clarion Collection hotel there is a breakfast and dinner buffet for three hours in the morning (7-10am weekdays, 8-11am weekends) and three hours in the evening 6-9pm. At breakfast there is a griddle for making your own eggs, and hot trays for scrambled eggs, bacon, baked beans and the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. Cereals, yogurts, veggies, cold meats, cheeses and a variety of whole grain and multi-grain breads provide plenty of options for breakfast. A selection of fruits and jams, orange juice, apple juice, yogurt drinks, coffee, tea and milk round out the breakfast offers.

Hotel Arcticus dining room-1   Hotel Arcticus dining room-2

In the evening the main course changed nightly. On Thursday night there was a fish casserole, Friday night was beef tacos and burritos (no refried, pinto or black beans though), and Saturday night was honey glazed pork chops and potatoes. The dinner buffet also included vegetables, salad mixings, potatoes, breads, cold cuts, cheeses, fruit and a chocolate pudding sort of cake dessert. In the evening only water, coffee drinks and tea are available for free. Other drinks are available to purchase.

I did not go hungry during my stay. In the seven or eight hours between meals there is always coffee, tea and fruit available for guests.

Hotel Arcticus Room 518

Hotel rooms are on floors 3, 4 and 5. My room was on the 5th floor facing the town of Harstad. There are some ocean facing rooms.

The room was a comfortable size with couch and chair and double size bed.

Hotel Arcticus 518 bed   Hotel Arcticus 518 TV

The TV had about 15 channels. The only dedicated English language channel was BBC, but for some reason it was not available 90% of the time. There were plenty of English language programs with American TV shows on the Nordic channels with subtitles. There were also two or three Viasat movie channels, depending on time of day and most of those were English language movies with no subtitles.

The refrigerator had a couple of bottled waters, but otherwise was empty. I was able to fit about 8 cans of beer in the space.

Hotel Arcticus bath-1   Hotel Arcticus 518 bath-2

Shower water pressure and toilet operated fine. There was an interesting warning sign on the bathroom wall, “When taking a bath or shower, please keep the door closed, as steam can release the fire alarm.”

The fire alarm sounded one time during my stay at the exact moment I pulled my key card out of the room main power switch. This is a hotel where you need the key card inserted to have power for the outlets. Apparently it was just a coincidence that the fire alarm sounded at that moment and unrelated to my room. The alarm ended after a few seconds and there was no hotel evacuation.

Perhaps somebody else was taking a hot shower in their room with the bathroom door open.

My favorite feature in the room was the large window that opened fully. I kept the window open wide nearly 24 hours a day to get fresh sea air in the room. And every morning I heard the Hurtigruten ferry to and from Tromso blast its horn at around 7:55am as my wake up call.

Hurtigruten ferry-1   Hurtigruten ferry-2

Hurtigruten coastal ferries going north and south arrive and depart Harstad in the morning. Fast boats are the only other ferries during the day. There was a tall ship sailing vessel that came in on Saturday and left again. The mast was taller than my 5th floor room.

Tall ship   Hotel Arcticus 518 room view

Fitness and Sauna Rooms

Another notable feature of the hotel is the 4th floor with fitness and sauna rooms. The sauna room has glass walls located several floors above the dining room.

Sauna-1   sauna-2

Fitness-1   Fitness-2

The view is spectacular in the right lighting. Here is what I might have seen from the sauna at a different time.

Hotel Arcticus view

The weather was persistent rain for most of my time in Harstad. Public transportation options are limited on weekends, especially Saturday. While my travel objective of seeing the Lofoten Islands was thwarted due to weather, the weekend at Hotel Arcticus was a delightful place to hang out for a few days.

Lofoten Islands

Lofoten Islands Archipelago seen in the distance on the approach to Evenes Airport, Harstad/Narvik. There is bus service from Evenes Airport to Svolvaer, Lofoten Islands. A car rental is the best transportation option with limited public transportation services available in the region and hundreds of miles of road.

Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus off the radar for Choice Privileges

My experience is there are few Americans or Choice Privileges members who book hotels using Choice Privileges points outside of Bergen, Oslo and a couple of other major tourist spots.

I booked Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus using Choice Privileges points. The standard reward rate was 16,000 points per night. I booked one standard reward night and two nights using Cash + Points at $60 + 8,000 points per night.

There was a problem recognizing my stay as prepaid with points. I ran into the same situation last year in Norway when I stayed at hotels outside of Oslo and Bergen. The computer systems for Choice Privileges and Nordic Choice Hotels apparently do not coordinate well for reservations using Choice Privileges points and the staff rarely encounter a hotel reservation made with Choice Privileges points. Nordic Choice Hotels operate as a separate entity and have their own Nordic Choice Club loyalty program.

I never heard an American or English tourist voice during three days at this Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus or around Harstad. Nearly everyone I encountered spoke English, but that is to be expected in Norway. I did not hear anyone at the hotel conversing in English, unless I was speaking to them. The most likely encounters with non-English speaking people living in Norway are Norwegian immigrants and there appeared to be quite a few Harstad, a town of 24,000 residents. Several of the hotel staff in the kitchen were not ethnic Norwegians.

Hotel Arcticus is about a 40-minute bus ride from Evenes Airport, also referred to as Harstad/Narvik Airport. The round trip ticket price for Flybussen.no airport bus was 25% less at 330 NOK ($41.25) compared to 220 NOK ($27.50) one way.

Harstad Rainray

Colorful light seen from Hotel Arcticus, Harstad at sunset.

Related Posts:

68.8° N in Harstad, Norway

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. Given the questions/requests I get when checking in using US Choice points at various Choice properties in Norway and Sweden, it indeed seems to me that there are not many (if any other) US Choice program customers redeeming these points at most Nordic Choice properties. For me the give away about this relatively underused redemption method is the reaction of the check-in personnel, some of whom: think I’m an employee of Choice US; or otherwise ask me for a bank card (or other additional form of payment) to charge the room rate.

    On most of my redemption stays at Nordic Choice properties — more so the stays not in cities with relatively large populations (i.e., outside of Oslo, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen) — I’m usually not asked for any bank/debit card or other additional form of payment; nor am I asked to show any ID.

  2. Most ethnic Norwegians and others born and raised in Norway study English from an early age and get a huge proportion of their media in English. The result is that the only non-English speakers whom I regularly encounter living and working in Norway tend to be those of non-Scandinavian and non-South Asian backgrounds. This tends to hold true across much of the Nordic Choice hotels area.

    The Norwegian hotel industry is heavily dependent upon the labor of immigrants to Norway. For customer-facing staff at hotels in Norway, a large proprortion of the labor force is from Sweden. The ethnic Swedish labor force in Norway usually speaks English too. That said, the Scandinavians fluency in English can vary, and it’s not always easy to tell how fluent or not early on in the conversation.

    About the hotel staff not being sure about the rate plan/reimbursement arrangement, I’ve had that hit multiple times — even multiple times at some properties — and the resolution sometimes involved them having to call the US program number and work it out over the phone.

  3. Ric, any recommendations on best ways right now to acquire Clarion points (outside of Daily Getaways)? We’ll be heading to the Nordic region soon and I’d appreciate your suggestions.

  4. Eric – Cash Plus Points reward stays work like IHG Rewards Club. If you have 8,000 points, then you can buy the additional points needed for a reward night.

    If you don’t have 8,000 points, then you can buy them from Choice Privileges for $88.You can buy up to 50,000 points in a calendar year for $550.

    There was a 30% discount offer in July when I bought 50,000 points for $385. The rate was $7.70 per 1,000 points.
    http://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2015/06/27/buy-16000-choice-privileges-points-for-123-20-through-july-28-2015/

    Here is another post where I describe how to acquire points for $7.50 per 1,000 through Points Plus Cash reward bookings.
    http://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2015/06/16/hacking-choice-privileges-reward-nights-for-anaheim-disneyland/

    Book a 25,000 points reward night on Cash Plus Points and you will pay $7.50 per 1,000 points.
    At booking you are charged 8,000 points + $127.50 to buy the additional 17,000 points.

    Cancel the reservation and all the points go back into your account. You now have 25,000 points.

    I have not needed to do Cash Plus Points trick myself, so I don’t know how many times you can do that without raising a flag on your account.

    At the time I booked my hotel reservations in July, Choice Hotels new website was still not fully functional for reward bookings. The Points Plus Cash option was not available online. This month the Points Plus Cash option returned and I changed three of my hotel reservations from Standard Rewards to Points Plus Cash to stretch my points for more reward nights. I purchased 24,000 additional points at $7.50 per 1,000 points.

    Most Nordic Choice Hotels in Norway are 16,000 points per night making these nights $120 per reward night. Room rates for many of these hotels are often over $200 per night.

  5. We’ve used the “cash and points” and then cancel game to generate points on the relative cheap and had no issued. There is one annual limit per account to buy points directly from points.com; and there is a separate, much higher limit to de facto buy points by way of the “cash+points” and related cancel game.

    If traveling as a couple, this game can be done for the account of each person.

    Also, gifting award nights to immediate relatives is allowed; but there isn’t much reason to test the boundaries of that.

  6. @GUWonder – good to know about Points Plus Cash since I have depleted my account once again down to 8,000 points.

    True about the English from TV. I’d say that most of the TV shows and movies I watched in English were not subtitled.

    Good thing for those of us who are redeeming Choice Privileges points for Nordic Choice Hotels is this incredible value will likely last for a while longer since it is not a big revenue loss.

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