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Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
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Travel to Oslo


Ship shape

1 April 2020

A storied address in Norway’s capital has been revived with modern art, jazz and some serious design swag

Taking pride of place in downtown’s Jernbanetorget Square, this century-old landmark and Oslo’s newest luxe lodging was once the headquarters of the transatlantic liner, Norwegian America. More than just a cruise ship, Amerikalinjen was a one-way ticket to the American dream for thousands of Norwegians.

Step inside the boutique hotel’s corner entrance to find New York contained within – from a moodily lit ground-floor all-day brasserie, Atlas (already a local favourite for its Oysters Rockefeller), to its subterranean jazz club’s speakeasy vibes. Meanwhile, the porthole-inspired windows of its glass covered courtyard café, Haven, and hand-blown globe pendants modelled on the ship’s originals, hark to Amerikalinjen’s maritime days.

The seafaring storytelling continues upstairs, where antique maps and vintage photos discovered in the listed hotel’s 16-month-long renovation, hang. As for views, you can choose from neon-lit Jernbanetorget Square, the city’s iceberg-esque Opera House, or the hotel’s greened courtyard.

A past-present amalgam, its 122-rooms vaunt mid-century classic furniture, deep-ledged windows, a smoked-glass mirrored wall and monochromatic subway-tiled bathrooms, stocked with toiletries by holistic beauty brand Sprekenhus. They’re just one of a handful of homegrown companies, including celebrated Norwegian glassmakers Hadeland (what Wedgwood is to England), tasked with localising Amerikalinjen.

For every modern turn, there’s a faithfully restored neo-baroque detail, like the staircase’s monastic-like vaulted ceilings or the library snug’s ornate wood cornicing, which turn the clock back 100 years.

Striking canvases by American heavyweights like nonagenarian Alex Katz (aptly, the son of an émigré) and social activist-cum-graphic artist, Shepard Fairey, promptly jolt you back to the present day. It’s no accident that his stylised Obama “Hope” poster presides over Amerikalinjen’s Pier 42 bar. This, of course, was the legendary spot where immigrants arrived into NYC, their hopes and dreams bundled into a small suitcase.

From the concierge

Decadent cocktail hour
A creative homage to the building’s centenary, Pier 42’s cocktail menu is structured around major events that have defined the past ten decades in both Norway and the US. Now you can take your ‘Vigeland Park’ or ‘Discovery of Oil’ libations upstairs with the hotel’s new floating bar service, which brings the mixologist and bespoke oak drinks trolley right to your door.

Sweat it out
It’s no secret that Scandis love a sauna, and the current Oslovian obsession is the floating variety. A five-minute brisk walk from Amerikalinjen is KOK – a 10-person, clean-burning raft sauna. Docked at Langkaia, the backdrop to your chilly dip in the harbour is Oslo’s Opera House, with its famous marble-clad roofscape. For an extra US$31, you can cruise (and steam) in the Oslofjord.

Philanthropic fare
Atlas brasserie isn’t all steak and Caesar salad. In collaboration with Oslo’s Red Cross, the kitchen works with one woman in the local community each season to create ‘Mama’s dish’. Taking inspiration from their home country, you might be treated to a spicy Eritrean heirloom recipe or Kurdish rolled eggplants with ground lamb, originating 3,500 miles away in Northern Iraq.

Words: Sarah Freeman