Oslo, Norway is a place I have visited twice, the first time in winter 2013 and then returned 18 months later in late summer 2014.
My first trip in March 2013 was only a 23 hour layover on an incredible AAdvantage frequent flyer one-way award ticket where I traveled from Berlin TXL – Oslo OSL – Helsinki HEL – London LHR – Chicago ORD – San Francisco SFO with near 24 hour overnight layovers in all the intermediate cities.
Oslo at that time was ranked the most expensive tourist destination in the world. By the price of the Big Mac index, 110nok/$19.23usd for a hamburger blew my mind. A 168nok/$29.37usd veggie burrito seemed like a better value. Average price for a beer was 75nok/$13usd.
Loyalty Traveler – Hunger in Oslo. Prices? What Prices! (March 13, 2013).
The only way I could justify going back to Norway in 2014 was my Choice Privileges account loaded with 200,000+ points. There are 90 Nordic Choice Hotels in Norway and reward nights can be booked using Choice Privileges points. Most Nordic Choice Hotels in Norway were 16,000 points per night in 2014 and in 2018 these hotels are still mostly 16,000 points per night.
While I could book hotels for my two week stay in September 2014, there was still the issue of how I would afford to eat for two weeks?
Nordic Choice Hotels was my meal plan too. I stayed 13 nights in Nordic Choice Hotels, including 6 nights at Clarion Collection hotels. All 13 hotel reward nights included complimentary breakfast buffet and 6 nights in Clarion Collection hotels also included a light dinner buffet.
I redeemed 216,000 Choice Privileges points for the trip. Those 13 reward nights in September 2014 had a published rate price tag around $6,000usd. Two of the hotels I stayed in were luxury hotels and 7 of 13 reward nights were booked in hotel suites. Availability of higher room category choices with Choice Privileges points is another aspect of the program that I take full advantage of when redeeming my points.
I had $300 in spending cash for two weeks in Norway. I spent only $25 on food. The other $275 was spent on transportation for trains, buses and an airplane ticket to fly Norwegian from Oslo Torp Airport TRF to Bergen BGO.
Bergen is my true love destination in Norway. I went back to Bergen two times in 2015 and also stayed in Harstad, in Arctic Norway that year. In summer 2016, I had an overnight stay in Stavanger, Norway.
Oslo on my Mind
An abundance of Choice Privileges points had me thinking about Oslo again this summer. I booked a couple of reward nights at The Thief, Oslo for 20,000 points per night. Room rates at the time of my reward booking were $449 per night. Finding Choice Privileges reward availability for The Thief Hotel is difficult.
Turned out our flight plans did not work for routing our trip through Oslo earlier this month and I canceled that reward stay in Oslo.
The other day I put together a 5:30 minute slideshow of Oslo photos from September 2014. There are no image captions for the pictures. Basically, the photos mostly show the waterfront around The Thief Hotel, one of Oslo’s premier luxury hotels and the flagship property of Nordic Choice Hotels. Other photos are some images of Norway’s Parliament building, Oslo downtown and an urban park.
2018 is a good year for Norway tourist travel relative to 2013-2014
A dramatic change happened for tourists to Norway in 2015 and has continued to make Norway far more affordable over the past four years than it was during my 2013 and 2014 trips.
USD – NOK currency exchange rate 2013 to 2018
March 12, 2013 1.00usd = 5.71nok
Sep 12, 2014 1.00usd = 6.36nok
Sep 12, 2015 1.00usd = 8.15nok
Aug 1, 2016 1.00usd = 8.47nok
Aug 1, 2017 1.00usd = 7.92nok
Aug 22, 2018 1.00usd = 8.35nok
The U.S. Dollar buys 46% more Norwegian Krone today than it did 5 years ago.
Food prices have not increased anywhere near 46%, meaning it is significantly less expensive for an American tourist to eat in Norway now than it was 5 years ago.
On top of reduced food expenses, hotel reward rates have not increased if using Choice Privileges points for reward nights in Norway. One change that has occurred with Nordic Choice Hotels is several hotels that were Clarion Collection brand in 2014 switched to Ascend Collection. This means you still get complimentary breakfast, but no complimentary dinner buffet.
Here are a collection of articles I have written about my trips to Norway.
2014 trip: Oslo, Larvik, Sandefjord, Bergen, Bergen Line to Oslo by train
- Oslo, Norway walking on a summer day (Sep 6)
- Hotel Review Clarion Royal Christiania Oslo, Norway (Sep 6)
- Hotel Review Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion Oslo, Norway (Sep 7)
- Think before you eat whale meat (Sep 8)
- Six days in Norway and $6 spent on food (Sep 9)
- Hotel Review: Farris Bad, Ascend Collection Larvik, Norway (Sep 10)
- Hotel Review Farris Bad Kaupang Suite upgrade (Sep 10)
- Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord offers whaling culture experience and beds too (Sep 11)
- Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection (Sep 13)
- Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport low cost flights (Sep 12)
- USA Branded Bergen (Sep 12)
- Oops! Radisson Royal Bergen hotel damaged Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site.(Sep 12)
- Walk like a Norwegian up Floyen in Bergen (Sep 13)
- Think before you eat Norwegian farmed salmon (Sep 13)
- Biked, hiked and psyched about Bergen (Sep 15)
- Clarion Collection No 13 Bergen, Norway (Sep 15)
- Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen, TripAdvisor #1 hotel – Part One (Sep 16)
- Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen – Part Two (Sep 16)
- Bergen Line to Oslo, 500 km by train (and bus) – Part One (Sep 18)
- Bergen Line to Oslo 500 km by train part two (Sep 19)
- How I stole 2 nights at The Thief Oslo with points (Sep 23)
- Hotel Review The Thief Oslo Room 603 (Sep 23)
- The Thief Oslo by design (Sep 24)
- Clarion Collection Folketeateret Oslo is recommended Nordic Choice Hotel (Sep 27)
2015 trips Bergen, Harstad, Oslo Airport:
- Get high with the locals in Bergen, Norway
- Rain forecast for Arctic Norway trip this week
- Oslo Airport Never Odd or Even
- 68.8° N in Harstad, Norway
- Clarion Collection Hotel No 13 Bergen with dinner at Hotel Oleana
- Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus Harstad, Norway
- Arctic Norway and whales
- Clarion Bergen Airport modern style
2016 Stavanger, Norway:
- Hotel Review Clarion Hotel Energy Stavanger, Norway
- July still life stroll through Stavanger, Norway