Rica Park Hotel Stavanger Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Rica Park stands out for its old-world ambiance: Think floral drapery, studded leather armchairs, and wooden bookcases lined with colorful books. It's intimate at 59 rooms, and the cozy feel is furthered by a lobby fireplace and the smell of freshly-baked waffles wafting through the lobby all afternoon, a treat for returning guests or those checking in. The decor and style of guest rooms (particularly the bathrooms) is a bit unexciting, especially considering the pleasant lobby, but they're large, and the hotel has a fairly central location near the lake and theater.
Clarion Collection Hotel Grand Olav Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This business-oriented, 106-room boutique hotel is located in the same building that houses the Olavshallen concert hall, and has a unique music-inspired theme. It also has numerous freebies -- a DVD library, rental bikes, and most notably, free breakfast, afternoon waffles, and a light evening buffet -- all of which make this a serious value, especially in a country as expensive as Norway. Decor is sultry and sophisticated, with plush fabrics in jewel tones, and rooms come with good-sized flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and marble bathrooms.
Saga Hotel Oslo Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This trendy 47-room boutique hotel is located in the quiet residential neighborhood of Majorstuen, to the northeast of the Royal Palace Park. It re-opened in spring 2011 after major renovations, and now features stylish contemporary decor throughout. The building housing the hotel dates to the late 19th century, and the hotel honors Oslo's past with subtle decor details; for example, historic photographs of the city are emblazoned on the elevator doors and on decorative pillows. Rooms blend traditional elegance with modern style, and come with flat-screen TVs, minibars, and walk-in showers. The hotel offers a free breakfast buffet and cozy lobby bar, but no other features. The location is a bit removed from the heart of the action, and it's worth comparing rates with the slightly more central Carlton Hotel Guldsmeden.
Carlton Oslo Hotel Guldsmeden Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This 50-room boutique hotel is notable for two reasons: Its charming Norway-meets-Bali decor, and its eco-friendly philosophy. Some rooms and bathrooms are tiny, and the location is a tad removed from the heart of the action (though the Royal Palace and Aker Brygge are within walking distance). But features such as rustic-chic four-poster beds with fur throws; 27-inch iMacs in the rooms in lieu of TVs; a free organic breakfast; and a small spa area with a sauna make this an attractive, intimate option.