History CochsPensjonat was started in 1927 by the Coch sisters –
hence the name. Initially there were two guesthouses in the building: Cochs
and Mina Johannessen’s. The guests were resident bachelors, two or three
sharing each room. There was a bathroom in each wing, toilets on the stairs,
and basins with water jugs and washbowls in the rooms. Food was important
then: three meals were served daily in the guesthouse dining-room, with
coffee and cakes in the lounge opposite.
A lifelong occupation
In 1946 Anna and Anton Gjesdal bought Cochs Pensjonat. Running a guesthouse
was a lifelong occupation, and the widow Coch and the Gjesdal family lived
and worked at the guesthouse until they died. In the early years most of the
guests were residents – they both lived and ate at Cochs. In the sixties and
seventies business people were predominant. Many employees in the postal
service, policemen and people working in a large Oslo manufacturing company
stayed at Cochs Pensjonat. The transition to hotel business took place in
In 1963 the
Gjesdals bought Mina Johannessen’s guesthouse.
The Skram family take over
In 1985 the present owners, Anne-Karin and Isak Skram, took over. They
actually met while they were both staying at Cochs Pensjonat in the sixties
– she was the daughter of the owners and he was a young student in Oslo
boarding there. They carried out extensive renovation work and made
considerable investments such as installing bathrooms and toilets in nearly
all the rooms.
Skram family. From left: Anna Gyril,
Anne-Karin, Isak, Johanneand Ida Victoria
The Royal rooms
In 1996 a large flat was incorporated into the guesthouse, and the “Royal
rooms” came into being – looking out on to Slottsparken. These rooms are of
a very high standard and are often booked well in advance.
In 2001 the Skram family bought the first floor of Parkveien 25. This was
also integrated into Cochs Pensjonat during 2002, providing 20 more
high-quality rooms. Cable TV was installed in all the rooms, along with
bathrooms. Only the prices remained the same.
In 2003 Cochs
Pensjonat has 88 rooms, 205 beds, employs a staff of 23 and is managed by
Anna Gyril, the daughter, who can boast an excellent hotel training in
Switzerland. Most of the guests are Norwegian and foreign tourists, but the
guesthouse is also widely used by upper secondary schools, colleges,
universities and business companies.
Anna Gyril, manager and third-generation guesthouse landlady.
Pictured here with the fourth generation, represented by
Lucas (six months) and Matilde (4)
From the third generation of Skrams it is the eldest
daughter, Anna Gyril, who has chosen to follow in the family footsteps. From an early age she showed an interest in how the guesthouse was run,
and she was an active participant in its operations throughout her youth.
The road then led her to the town of Neuchatel in Switzerland and to the
famous international hotel management school Sitc Têtê-de-Ran. Anna Gyril
enjoyed her studies there and was awarded her diploma in 1989. In addition
to learning about running a hotel, her language skills in French, English
and German were also enhanced during her stay in Switzerland.
At the moment Anna Gyril is at home with the fourth and so far final
addition to the “Skram tribe”. Apart from Lucas at six months, the family
also consists of Matilde (4), Daniel (9) and ten-year-old Victoria. The two
oldest children were at school when the photo was taken.
mother, like daughter; in this generation too it is the eldest daughter who,
at the age of 10, has already told her grandfather, Isak Skram, “I’m going
to be the boss of Cochs Pensjonat”! So continuity in the future will present
previous generations, Anna Gyril wants to place particular emphasis on what
is important to guests: that the guesthouse is clean and tidy, and that a
stay at Cochs Pensjonat feels like coming home to familiar people. She
points out that to reach this goal you must have continuity in both
management and employees – and with employees who have been working at Cochs
for ten years or more, this quality is ensured!
faces at Cochs
Here we have some of the cheerful people who make sure that your stay at
Cochs Pensjonat is
and tidy”. From left: Anita, Harry, Alicia, Nina (housekeeper and responsible for all the chambermaids). Front left: Ayako, with Ana Maria on
The Skram family have always paid great attention to the establishment being
clean and tidy: guests must experience it as their second home, and history
has shown that the very first Skram was right. More and more companies and
private individuals have become regular guests at Cochs.
The team who make sure that you find Cochs Pensjonat clean and tidy are a
colourful and humorous bunch from several parts of the world. And in the
middle of the bunch, ruling the roost, there is the only man: Harry from
Kristiansund. Harry is the caretaker and has been at Cochs for many years.
“We have a really good working environment at Cochs,” he says, and adds with
a knowing smile, “With so many girls from all over the world around me it’s
no wonder I’ve been here so long!”
Jubilee celebrations, October 2002 During
2001-2002 Cochs Pensjonat was once again modernised and
extended, this time with 20 new rooms. At that time Lars Saabye Christensen
published his book “The Half Brother” in which large parts of the plot take
place in “Cochs Hospits”. What could be more natural than to invite the
author to the celebrations?
Lars Saabye Christensen was interviewed at the anniversary party, and
Aftenposten, Norway’s most popular quality newspaper, gave the following
description in its issue of 24 October 2002:
Lars Saabye Christensen stopped so often outside Cochs Pensjonat in Oslo
that he included the guesthouse in his novel “The Half Brother”. But it was
not until yesterday that he actually visited the guesthouse to relive old
went past Cochs Pensjonat in my childhood and I always slackened my pace.
But I never went in,” says Lars Saabye Christensen. He continues, “You
couldn’t see in. I imagined all sorts of things happening behind the
entrance door.” And these thoughts became reality in the epic novel “The
Half Brother” which by then had sold more than 250,000 copies and was to be
translated into English. In the novel, the character Arnold Nilsen spends
4,982 days in room 502.
It is a
strange coincidence that Isak Skram, the present owner, was also given room
502 when he came to Oslo in the sixties to study and lodged at Cochs
sits on the sofa and looks out at the back yard – a brick wall, rain and
slush, autumn leaves turning yellow. He doesn’t exclude the possibility of
the brothers in the book turning up again. He has plenty of time! And of
course room 502 today goes under the name “The Half Brother”.
"This is a great river of a book."
The phrase came spontaneously as I was irresistibly carried along with the
flow. The Half Brother is magnificent: a roman fleuve within a single
volume. Sub-plots, reflections and inventive sidelines run into the
mainstream narrative, with only the odd new paragraph or chapter allowed to
break the smooth bulk of the text."
Cultural history from basement to loft
the former storerooms in the basement is now a meeting place for Allgreen –
an environmental network advocating better urban and rural development. See
And it is from here that information advisor, pictorial artist and writer
Erling Okkenhaug runs The Gentle Wave. www.okkenhaug.com
In the seventies Cochs Pensjonat was regularly used by the record industry
at a time when new singers started to flourish in the more outlying
districts of Norway and were successful in the charts and on TV. The
eccentric record mogul Audun Tylden described it as follows:
them lodged at
Cochs Pensjonat at the bottom of Bogstadveien, strategically situated
diagonally across from Lorry. They had come to the Promised City to make a
long-playing record and had generously been allocated the better part of a
week to imprint their musical genius on the grooves of the record. They came
one after the other, and enthusiastic audiences swallowed the lot with the
greatest of pleasure. Svein Byhring sent them to the top of the Norwegian
charts in turn, Ola Nergaard presented them by the dozen on TV, and
journalists Stein Dag Jensen and Morten Stensland provided the Norwegian
public with details about where they came from, what they ate for dinner and
their sources of inspiration. This may sound idyllic for younger readers,
and in fact it actually was. They turned up one by one: Olav Stedje, Randi
Hansen, Unit 5, Beranek, Jannicke, Lava, Vazelina Bilopphøggers, Kjipe-Lars
Kilevold…. And the record industry’s main supplier of trophies worked round
the clock to meet the crying need for gold and platinum records.”
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