Sun, Jul 15, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Norwegians line up for chance to overnight at Ikea

THE GUARDIAN , OSLO

It brought us Swedish meatballs, Billy bookshelves and endless queues on London's orbital motorway on Saturday afternoons. Now Ikea is going one step further and opening the Ikea Hostel, where customers can stay overnight if they haven't finished their shopping.

Later this month Ikea in Norway will let shoppers nap down in one of its two Oslo warehouses, an operation that will last a week.

"It will be like an alternative hostel. There will be the regular dormitory with lots of beds stacked up together," said Frode Ullebust, a company spokesman.

"We will also have a bridal suite, with a round bed and a hanging chandelier, and the luxury suite, where customers can enjoy breakfast in bed," he said.

Family rooms will also be available for parents and children.

Ullebust said that, as far as he knew, this was Ikea's first foray into the hotel business. Every night, the 30 lucky few will be able to stack up on meatballs, Norwegian salmon and cranberry mousse as Ikea is offering free dinner and breakfast at the usual canteen.

Whereas many Britons may associate the Swedish furniture company with screaming children, traffic jams in the car park and the occasional riot when a new outlet is opened, it seems that Norwegians see a trip to Ikea as the ultimate tourist attraction.

"Around 900,000 visitors come to visit Ikea during the summer holidays. It's more than what one of the biggest attractions in Norway, the Holmenkollen ski jump, gets in one year," Ullebust said.

"We have five Ikea stores in Norway, all situated next to the four biggest cities, which are all in the south in the country. We found that people from the north of Norway include a visit to Ikea as part of their holidays," he said. "The Ikea Hostel will make the destination complete."

Overnight stayers can check in to their temporary abodes from 10pm, an hour before closing time, but will have to be quick in the morning.

"The shop opens at 10am so if they are lazy, people might get woken up by shoppers testing out their mattresses," Ullebust said.

Customers will also be able to take their bedsheets home.

"It's a nice souvenir," he added. "We will also give them bathrobes with the Ikea Hostel logo on, and some slippers, so they won't get cold at night."

And to top it all off, Ikea fans can join a very private tour of the building.

"Ikea never sleeps. They can go on a tour of the warehouse. They will enjoy Ikea by night," said the spokesman.

In addition, four employees will be on hand to look after the Ikea lodgers.

Eager applicants have until Wednesday to apply for an overnight stay, by filling in a form and saying why they want to sleep at Ikea -- a question many a frazzled shopper may wonder about.

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