Opus XVI is preparing for its second Christmas in Bergen, and it has a clear ambition; to be Bergen’s Christmas Hotel.
– In the old days, people went to hotels to celebrate Christmas and New Year. We want to re-establish this tradition, explains Alexander Grieg, owner and host at OPUS XVI. In 2018, Alexander and his wife Britt Marie realised their dream when they opened the OPUS XVI hotel at Vågsallmenningen in the heart of Bergen. As Christmas approached, they made an unconventional choice.
– We brought our family to the hotel and celebrated Christmas with the guests. We served Christmas porridge with a hidden almond at 12 o’clock, while the Silver Boys choir (Sølvguttene) sang traditional Christmas songs on the big screen. A traditional Christmas meal was served in the evening, before we finished by walking around the Christmas tree, says Alexander Grieg enthusiastically. Alexander is convinced that it will be a good and traditional Christmas celebration, for both the Norwegian and international guests.
– You do not mess with traditions, and it is important for us that it is a good and traditional Christmas celebration. That is why we have brought our traditions to the hotel. This year there will be a Christmas buffet on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and we will also celebrate Christmas for the visiting guests, explains Grieg, who got the impression that the hotel guests enjoyed last year’s celebration.
– We are a small and personal hotel, which means that we have close contact with the individual guests. This is what makes us different from some of the other hotels, says Alexander, who does a bit of everything at the hotel. Last year the hotel was almost fully booked on Christmas Eve. The guests came from all over the world, including Norway. Alexander emphasises the fact that it is an offer that is open to the people of Bergen too.
– Many people need somewhere to celebrate Christmas other than at home, and some people might not have anyone with whom to celebrate. That is why we want our hotel to be a good place to be. We all celebrate together here, says Grieg.
Christmas starts in November
Despite the fact that Christmas Eve is not until the end of December, preparations begin well before the Silver Boys choir sing Christmas songs to mark the start of Christmas. Opus XVI organises Christmas parties in November and December, and it is still possible to make a booking. – It is important for us to be more than just a place to stay. We organise Christmas parties right up until Christmas, explains Grieg, and this year we will also be offering families a breathing space in the busy lead up to Christmas.
Afternoon tea and Sunday buffet
The weekends leading up to Christmas are busy for most people. This is why Alexander and Britt Marie are inviting you to a buffet every Sunday.
– There is an old tradition of going out to eat Sunday dinner. That is why we are offering a family buffet every Sunday during the lead up to Christmas – a perfect opportunity to have some breathing space and let someone else do the cooking for you, smiles Alexander. Opus XVI has also started serving afternoon tea every Friday and Saturday, a concept that has become extremely popular.
– We wanted to play on the old and fashionable, and we have really made it work. There are about 120 guests here every Saturday, and we serve old-fashioned afternoon tea, says Alexander, showing off the beautiful old teacups on the tables. – It is extremely interesting to see the variety of people who come to have afternoon tea, ranging from young students to elderly women, explains Alexander.
The family hotel
Opus XVI is family-owned, and Alexander’s great great grandfather John Grieg was the brother of Edvard Grieg. The family is very bound by tradition, not just at Christmas. – I am extremely proud of my family tree and the city of Bergen, which is why we wanted to establish a hotel that would highlight precisely this feeling. Bergen is a city full of traditions, and we want to achieve the same thing, says Grieg. The name of the hotel, OPUS XVI, refers to Edvard Grieg’s most famous composition, and the hotel reflects Alexander’s family relationship to the world-famous composer. In the reception area, there is a bust of Edvard Grieg that was made at the end of the 1800s, and in the basement, there is a small Edvard Grieg museum that tells the story not only of Edvard Grieg – but also of the entire Grieg family. Even the suites are called after important people and compositions by Edvard Grieg. However, the roots of Edvard Grieg are not meant to outweigh the hotel experience of staying in the city’s only five-star hotel.
– They are at the core, and exist as a common thread, but it is important to emphasise that the hotel is more than just Edvard Grieg. OPUS XVI is a modern hotel that is rooted in the history of Bergen, and this interaction is important to us, concludes the hotel manager.