Perminalen is just a few short blocks off the main shopping strip, Karl Johan's gate, and a ten-minute walk from Oslo Centralstation, where you'll end up if you take the train from the international airport. This is lovely because you're close to all the bus lines and underground railway stops, with the famous Akershus Castle just down the street as well.
There's a variety of pricing options, depending on whether or not you wish to share your room hostel-style with other guests. As of December 2003, single rooms go for NOK 495, twins for 650, families for 840, and one bed in a four-bed room for 280 (remember the exchange rate to USD is approximately seven kroners to one dollar). I thought it was pointless to spend $30 more just to have my own room and opted for the single bed. I definitely made the right choice, because, though it was during the off-season, I had the room to myself the entire first day until 2am, and even then, only shared it with one other guy until the last day. This is also a great way to meet some fellow travelers to hit the town with.
The room was surprisingly large, with a common table in the middle, two private desk/work stations, and bunk beds on either side of the room. There's also four separate closets, two large storage spaces, a cable-equipped TV, and, best of all, one bathroom for each room that has two sinks and mirrors, toilet, and a shower with soothing water pressure. Unlike a hostel, where oftentimes it's required to bring your own linens, or to rent them from the front desk, Perminalen has maids who change your linens and towels daily, empty the garbage, and leave a fresh mini-bar of soap.
A free breakfast buffet is included in the cost of your room, but don't expect anything exquisite. Coffee, tea, orange juice, cereal, cheese, chocolate spread, bananas, and crackers--if you don't eat meat, that's pretty much your smorgasbord to choose from. Not bad, but eating a pickle and cheese sandwich every morning with a cup of hot tea and banana got to be a little old. Carnivores do have a pretty big selection of cold meats, too, and there was some kind of fishy substance in a tube. The only thing I'll eat out of a tube is cookie dough, much less fish eggs.
Don't be alarmed by the military personnel you're likely to encounter here. All Norwegian men are required to serve one year, and all of the guys I talked to were my age and just taking care of their obligation. Apparently the military has some sort of agreement with Perminalen that allows soldiers to stay there practically free.
by Mr. Wonka
Brooklyn, New York
December 11, 2003
From journal Chocolate and Cheese in Oslo