Just returned from 5 days in Norway at the end of a summer trip to E Europe (Belarus, Odessa-Ukraine, Chisinau-Moldova, Iasi-Romania). Will do a trip report for those few interested in that part of the world. Detailing out what I did for hotels and car rental if it helps others in the future.
In Norway, all but one of our nights were spent in Choice hotels which have many different brands (Comfort inn, Comfort Suite, Sleep Inn, Quality Inn, Clarion). What I discovered is that one brand provides not only a full breakfast but also dinner as part of the room rate. This is only for the “Clarion Collection” hotels. Given how expensive Norway is for room & board, this could be a great way to save money.
Paying for the room – While I could have paid cash for the rooms, I investigated what the rooms would cost if I used points. I joined the Choice Hotels program and checked how many points I could get for opening a credit card which wasn’t bad (32,000 pts). However, Choice hotels frequently sells points using promotions where bonus points are awarded based on how many you purchase. I ended up getting a total of 70,000 pts for a total of $550 (there was a 40% bonus if buying 50k points).
Most of the hotels I booked cost either 16000 pts/night or had a Cash and Points rate of 6,000 points + $75 copay. This meant that I effectively paid $122/night for these hotels. I considered this a good price to begin with before including a full dinner that one could take advantage of.
- Only the Clarion collection hotels seems to have the dinner option. Do check and confirm if going this route. My first night in Bergen I booked an Ascend Collection hotel and found out late that dinner was not included
- Not all locations will have a Clarion Collection hotel – for example, the only property in Sogndal was a Quality inn
- Don’t buy points speculatively. Only buy if you know you are going to use them
- Choice hotels do limit the point you can purchase on an annual basis though for couples, you can open two accounts and therefore buy twice the amount of points, if needed
- I like the Cash and Points options since the cost works out the same as using all points. HOWEVER, note that the cash portion of this reservation is non-refundable should you cancel the reservation. This was only noted after I completed the booking and got a confirmation
- Due to our travel schedules, we only got to try out dinner once and it was very good. This was at the Hotel Folketeateret in Oslo. Dinner consisted of two types of salad, one soup, grilled vegetables, and all the fixings for a chicken gyro. Dessert was not included. Soft drinks/wine/beer were extra.
- Choice hotels are not limited just to Norway and are also available in other parts of Scandinavia. I believe the dinner option may be available at the other Clarion Collection hotels in those countries too.