Why was I in Stavanger, Norway anyway?
I found myself in Stavanger, Norway for one night in need of a hotel after leaving my wife on the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark to make her own way home from CPH airport the next day on an American Airlines Business Class award ticket to Monterey, California. Our travel bargain is I get to travel frequently, primarily in economy class, and she gets to travel in style on my miles.
Since I don’t play the credit card games to earn miles, I generally can afford only about 3 or 4 one way business class tickets per year between USA and Europe. Most of our flying is on purchased low fare tickets.
Many tourists go to Stavanger for a hike to Preikestolen. Based on my one night in Stavanger, I’d choose Bergen as a better Norway destination for tourists. Bergen is a lively place in summer with plenty of hiking and views too and a lot more happening.
Traveling most of 2016 between San Francisco and Europe on round trip tickets starting in Europe put me in a tough situation of finding a way back home from Europe to California in late July. I learned from this year’s experience that late July is probably the most challenging two weeks of the year to get a discount ticket from Europe to the USA, just as it is for USA-Europe. I searched for months to find a low fare from Europe to California since buying my American Airlines ticket in October 2015, $500 Stockholm-San Francisco, outbound to California last November after Thanksgiving vacation in Europe, inbound flight back to Stockholm last month on July 11, 2016.
Finally, in April, I located a $571 round trip ticket for a flight on July 26 from Stavanger, Norway to San Francisco on SAS and United Airlines. I needed a hotel reservation in Stavanger, Norway the night before my morning flight to San Francisco. In April 2016 I booked the Quality Inn Stavanger Airport for 875 NOK or $106 for one night.
The morning in Copenhagen, before flying to Stavanger, I changed my reservation to get a hotel closer to Stavanger than the airport. I was feeling like experiencing a little Norwegian party nightlife after more than a week of fun times in Krakow, Poland and Copenhagen. Airport hotels have a real business vibe and rarely the excitement found in a city hotel. Clarion Hotel Energy Stavanger looked like the best deal for Stavanger at 12,000 Choice Privileges points.
Even better was Points Plus Cash rate 6,000 points + $45.
Even better was a suite for 6,000 points + $45.
I could hammer it over the blogosphere that one of the great competitive advantages of Choice Privileges are different category rooms, sometimes even suites, available for points at many hotels for standard reward rates. I don’t broadcast this feature heavily since I love it myself and I have seen changes happen several times over the past decade when benefits are advertised by bloggers too heavily.
When I checked today this same suite room type for Clarion Energy was available for the same reward rate 6,000 points + $45 on Choice Privileges for August 22 with a posted room rate $327 USD.
Airport Hotels are best when time demands demand airport location
I was feeling energized after two weeks in Sweden, Poland and Denmark in July and I wanted to find out what Norway had on tap. Airport hotels are fantastic when flight times demand it like those 6am or short overnight layovers. I had 18 hours between arrival and departure and an airport idea suddenly seemed like a bad idea on a Monday morning when my mind screamed “European summer vacation is over”.
I changed my airport hotel reservation about eight hours before I arrived in the city from Quality Stavanger Airport hotel to Clarion Hotel Energy Stavanger, 1.5 miles from Stavanger waterfront. I figured I would take a walk around Stavanger and get one night in a real Norway city for my last night in Europe and not just another airport hotel.
If Stockholm was kind of sleepy, Stavanger was in a coma
To make this long introduction end, Stavanger, Norway was by far the least socially energetic city of my European vacation stays in Stockholm, Krakow and Copenhagen.
I complained about Stockholm being Sleepy.
Stavanger was Comatose.
The streets were so deserted on a late July Monday evening that it was kind of spooky. In late July the sunlight does not fade until well after 10pm and more like 11pm. This city seemed evacuated by 7pm on the evening I walked for three hours around the town.
Clarion Hotel Stavanger was the highlight of my one day stay in Norway. This is a highly favorable review of the hotel and Choice Privileges.
Clarion Hotel Energy Stavanger, Norway
The weather was rainy upon arrival into Stavanger. This photo snapped on the plane includes the part of Stavanger where Hotel Clarion Energy and central Stavanger are geographically located. The lake visible in the upper portion of photo, not obscured by clouds, is about ten minutes walk from Hotel Clarion when heading to the waterfront. There is a large cruise ship in upper center of photo and that is primary tourist waterfront of Stavanger. This was the only place in the city where I saw more than three people (but fewer than a few dozen) on the streets for about 0.5 km on a 3-hour walk around Stavanger in late July. To place this absence of people on the streets in perspective, Google shows Stavanger has a population of 128,369 (2012). There were not too many cars driving around either.
Transportation to the Hotel
The Stavanger airport shuttle to the city cost 180 NOK round trip ($21.04 USD). The bus takes about 15 minutes to reach the hotel and another five minutes or so to city center. There is a bus stop directly outside the Clarion Hotel Energy, but going back to the airport requires crossing the street for a bus stop about 100 meters to the left of the hotel.
The hotel is located next to DNB Arena, the ice hockey rink for the Stavanger Oilers.
Bathroom had bot a bathtub and separate shower.
View from Suite 6000 Clarion Hotel Energy.
Clarion Hotel Energy Lobby and Restaurant
Kitchen & Table Madla
Breakfast was the type of breakfast I find desirable with lots of greens included among the typical breakfast fare of hot foods, breads, cheese, meats and fruit.
The bar had local beers and Brooklyn beer starting at 86 NOK ($10 USD) for local beer to $12.75 per bottle/glass. Cocktails started at 120 NOK ($14.60 USD). Those are typical Norwegian prices for alcohol.
I had purchased two strong 0.5 L Norwegian craft ales at the airport in duty free for 104 NOK ($12.11 USD). I went down to the bar for a pint glass with ice.
There is a conference level floor above the lobby.
My cost of 6,000 points + $45 for a suite at Clarion Hotel Energy Stavanger is the kind of deal that keeps me buying all the Choice Privileges points I can for my frequent excursions into Scandinavia.