Amerikalinjen is a 4* boutique hotel ideally located in the very center of Oslo, in the former headquarters of the Norwegian America Line, whose legendary cruise ships transported travelers from Norway to America throughout the 20th century.
The neo-baroque style building was first unveiled in 1919, at a time when transatlantic voyages crystallized the dreams and ambitions of thousands of Norwegians, who set off towards a new world of opportunities, spurred on by the American Dream.
The red façade of the building is adorned with marine elements and references from Greek mythology, such as Tritons and Nereids.
The interior, which has been very tastefully renovated, has preserved the spirit of the building all while adding an elegant touch of modernity. The design is exquisite, refined, and functional. Nothing is superfluous or ostentatious, and everything has been conceived for guests to have a good time and a comfortable stay.
The flawless stylistic transition from one space to the next – the reception, lounge, bar (Pier 42), restaurant (Brasserie Atlas) and rooms – is in line with the esthetic heritage of 20th-century cruise ships. The decor combines luxury (with high-end materials such as velvet, leather, or marble) and urban minimalism (subway tiles, monochromatic palettes with colorful accents, patinaed mirrors and industrial style light fixtures).
Massive trunks serve as coffee tables in the reception lounge, and a common room on the 2nd floor (British 1st floor) has been refurbished with wooden interior taken from the Norwegian America Line’s last ship.
The rooms are very comfortable and stylish, they too having been inspired by the cabins on the ships sailing between Norway and the US: a large bed, beautiful desk, details in black and white, blonde wood, furnishings and light fixtures by Norwegian designers, and floor-level shower room. Once you’ve slipped under the covers of the lovely, soft bed, you feel as though you’re aboard a motionless ship.
The staff (at reception and breakfast) are wonderfully welcoming, attentive, and responsive.
Breakfast – which is currently being served on trays due to Covid restrictions – is generous and varied. The servers pay particular attention to food intolerance and allergies
Amerikalinjen is the perfect place for a cozy getaway. You can stay for one or more nights, take in the atmosphere while having dinner at Brasserie Atlas, or enjoy a cocktail at Pier 42.
We particularly enjoyed
The location at the very center of Oslo: just across from the train station, and a mere stone’s throw from the Opera house and the vibrant neighborhood of Bjørvika
The marine decor and esthetic (most notably the courtyard conservatory, the perfect place to enjoy your breakfast)
Oslo is the capital of Norway, but more importantly, it’s also Stéphanie’s birth town.
As a dynamic, creative, inspired city, Oslo is great to visit any time of year. Facing the fjord and surrounded by forest-clad hills, it’s the ideal destination for nature lovers.
Oslo is a city in motion – it’s undergone massive changes and evolved enormously in the last few years. Entire neighborhoods – such as Bjørvika, around the Opera house – have been created. There are plenty of parks, gardens, and tree-lined avenues, making it a uniquely green city, where nature is easily accessible all over town.
Oslo isn’t a cold city, neither literally, nor figuratively. On the contrary, it’s welcoming and conducive to interesting architectural, artistic, cultural, and personal discoveries.
In the summer, the locals flock to the seaside to lounge on the beach, unwind in a floating sauna, or take a dip in the sea. In the winter, the shorter days are better suited for visiting a museum or an exhibit, or finding a nice café, bar, or restaurant where you can enjoy the koselig (pronounced “kooshlee”) atmosphere. The notion of koselig can be defined as a warm, pleasant, cozy feeling. It could be created by soft and comfortable interior that makes you want to wrap yourself up in a blanket, an intimate get-together with friends in the summer, or a lovely hot drink in the winter.
We’ve selected 4 Oslo neighborhoods that we particularly enjoy. The idea is to take in the general atmosphere of an area, rather than point out very specific (more or less touristy) sights.
The construction of the Opera house by the Oslo fjord was the first step in transforming the old harbor district of Bjørvika into a vibrant new neighborhood.
Designed by Norwegian architecture company Snøhetta, the Opera, with its white marble roof, seems almost to emerge from the cool waters of the fjord. Don’t miss the atrium inside the building (a harmonious composition of wood, metal, and glass), and particularly the roof of the Opera house, to enjoy the splendid view of the Oslo fjord
Take a stroll along Langkaia dock (to the east, across from the Opera) to observe the unique architecture of the building in detail. The dock will lead you to SALT, an open-air cultural space combining, art, music, street food, architecture, and saunas.
The Deichman Public Library (to the north, across from the Opera) was conceived as a modern-day multimedia library and as a shared, living space. It contains a vast collection of works organized by genre over 5 floors. The building’s many couches and chairs make it the perfect place to study or relax. Mini movie rooms are set up for private showings, and there are fun activities for kids. There’s even a dedicated space for 3D printing! The café terrace above the library entrance also offers an ideal view of the Opera house. The Deichman Library was recently named the world’s best new public library by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
Between the Opera and the new Munch Museum, a floating footbridge allows pedestrians to walk to the tip of Sørenga – a new neighborhood that’s been built on the water, where young Oslo-dwellers and families alike meet up to enjoy beautiful summer days.
A collection of buildings called the Barcode Project and the façade of the Munch Museum make up Oslo’s new skyline.
The view from Akrobaten footbridge, which spans the railway, perfectly illustrates the barcode effect of the architecture. Thanks to the multitude of cafés, bars, and restaurants located on the ground floor of the buildings, it’s become a very lively area.
Along the waterfront, several saunas, beaches, and pontoons attract those who want to bathe, relax, and enjoy the fjord.
Aker Brygge, Tjuvholmen and Akershus Fortress
The pedestrian docks at Aker Brygge offer a completely open view of the fjord, Akershus Fortress, and City Hall. The docks are lined with shops and restaurants that are particularly popular with tourists. Aker Brygge is also the point of departure for the little yellow ferries going out to the Bygdøy peninsula, or for fjord cruises.
For future reference: the new National Museum, which will open in 2022, is located by Aker Brygge.
Extend your stroll along the boardwalk at Aker Brygge by continuing out to the Tjuvholmen peninsula, where you will find the Astrup-Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (designed by architect Renzo Piano), a sculpture park (with pieces by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor). The clean-cut architecture of the museum and the surrounding buildings give Tjuvholmen its unique character.
Akershus Fortress was built around a medieval castle inthe 17th century. This massive, steep citadel with paved pathways is home to several museums (The Armed Forces Museum, The Norwegian Resistance Museum, and Akershus medieval castle) and offers a splendid view of Oslo harbor.
Grünerløkka and Vulkan
Exploring Grünerløkka on foot is the best way to soak up the vibe of this bustling neighborhood. “Løkka” (pronounced “luh-ka”), as it’s affectionately called, is dotted with vintage and design shops, secondhand stores, koselig little cafés and restaurants, concert venues and bars, large squares, and lush parks. The area is popular with students, young families, and pensioners alike.
At the edge of Grünerløkka, in the Sagene area, a walk along the Akerselva river will reveal a string of converted brick factory buildings, waterfalls, and green spaces.
The new Vulkan neighborhood is also located by the bank of Akerselva, with Mathallen, a food court and indoor market concept, as its main attraction. Various shops and stalls sell culinary products and dishes from all over the world (Norway, Mexico, Japan, France, Hungary, China, Italy…) that you can then enjoy outside or in the common seating area in the middle of the market.
Our tip: near Mathallen, you can explore the little side streets and alleys around legendary café-bar Blå, where you’ll discover a unique, handmade outdoor chandelier, as well as many street-art pieces.
The old tree houses in Telthusbakken and Damstredet can be reached on foot from Vulkan, where they’re hanging on to the hillside in the St. Hanshaugen (St. John’s Hill) district, near Gamle Aker Kirke (Oslo’s oldest church, built in 1100) and Vår Frelsers Gravlund cemetery (where a great many famous Norwegians are buried, such as playwright Henrik Ibsen and painter Edvard Munch).
Telthusbakken and Damstredet are both quiet and very instagrammable streets with 19th-century houses.
Telthusbakken is lined with colorful, wooden houses on one side, and with community gardens on the other. At the top of Telthusbakken, it’s worth stopping a while to enjoy the view of the east side of Oslo.
The quaint old houses that line both sides of Damstredet all have lush little gardens. The great Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland lived in the pink house by the top of Damstredet for a few years.
Frogner, the Vigeland park and the Royal Palace
Frogner is the capital’s calm and affluent embassy neighborhood, nestled between the Royal Palace and the Vigeland park.
The Vigeland park is one of Oslo’s most popular spotsfor locals and tourists alike. More than 200 sculptures made by artist Gustav Vigeland between 1920 et 1943 can be found all over this massive park, which was created on farmland in the early 20th century. Most of the sculptures are nudes representing the different ages of life, the most famous of which are the Monolith, the great central fountain, and “Sinnataggen” (Angry Boy). The park also has playgrounds, tennis courts, two museums (the Vigeland Museum and Oslo City Museum), cafés, a stadium, and a public pool. A large number of benches and greens make it the perfect place for a picnic.
The Royal Palace, which was built in the neo-classical style and finished in 1849, has been the main residence of the Norwegian royal family since the country gained its independence in 1905. It’s easily recognizable by its yellow façade and its ornate balcony with six Ionian columns. While the Palace square is one of Oslo’s must-see sights, the Royal Palace is only open to the public in the summer months. It is possible to watch the changing of the guards (every day at 13:30).
A majestic statue of King Karl-Johan of Sweden-Norway (born Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte in the French town of Pau) towers over the Palace square.
The Palace is located at the west end of de Karl Johans Gate (Oslo’s main shopping street), and is surrounded by the large, beautiful park of Slottsparken.
• Bygdøy is a large peninsula with bucolic and woodland views, elegant villas, marinas, seaside walks and several museums (such as the Fram Museum, dedicated to polar explorers, and the open-air Norwegian Folk Museum, which contains a collection of traditional Norwegian houses, as well as a magnificent stave church).
• The hills around Oslo, particularly Holmenkollen, with its famous ski jump
Since Strasbourg’s world-famous Christmas market is sadly cancelled in 2020, we wondered what it would be like if we simply imagined this year’s market.
Every year, one country is the market’s guest of honor, and place Gutenberg is filled with stalls selling souvenirs and culinary specialties from that country. In previous years, the guests of honor have been Belgium, Lebanon, Iceland, and many others.
Since Stephanie is Norwegian, we’ve imagined a market with Norway as the guest of honor. On that occasion, we wanted to share a typically Norwegian Christmas tradition with you. Those of you who are familiar with Alsatian Christmas traditions will know the Mannele, or Mannala, which is essentially a little brioche-man (as opposed to a gingerbread-man) enjoyed all through the month of December, but particularly on December 6th, for the feast of Saint Nicholas.
In Norway (and throughout Scandinavia) there is a somewhat similar tradition for making “Lussekatter“, or saffron buns, for the feast of Saint Lucia on December 13th. These very tasty buns have a bright yellow color (from saffron or turmeric) and are traditionally shaped into swirls and spirals. This is done to symbolize light winning over darkness and the sun slowly returning after the gloom of winter.
Just imagine the Norwegian village at the market … the smell of fresh saffron buns, the spicy aroma of gløgg (Norwegian mulled wine), stalls selling risgrøt (rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar, and butter) or smoked salmon, others offering aquavit and Christmas ale, little decorations with gnomes and trolls, traditional wool sweaters and mittens …
Let’s hope it comes true some day! See you in 2021, for next year’s market. In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy this recipe! God Appetitt!
Recipe for LUSSEKATTER or saffron buns
• 1 to 1,5 g of saffron
• 50 g of fresh yeast
• 0,5 L of milk
• 150 to 200 g of butter or margarine
• 0,5 teaspoon of salt
• 1-3 dL of sugar
• 1 egg
• About 1,5 L of flour
• Raisins for decorating (optional)
+ 1 egg and a splash of milk for the egg wash
How to make lussekatter:
Grind the saffron to a fine powder.
Crumble the yeast into a large bowl and stir out into a few tablespoons of the milk.
Melt the butter, then add the milk. Gently heat the mixture until tepid (test a drop on your skin, it needs to be tepid to activate the yeast, but too much heat will kill it.). Add the saffron.
Pour the milk and butter over the yeast and stir in the salt, sugar and about half of the flour. Add the rest of the flour a little at a time (you might not need all of it) and knead it in by hand until the dough is nice and smooth. Sprinkle a little flour on top, cover with a tea towel and set to rise in a warm place with no cold draughts until it doubles in size.
Knead the dough in the bowl for a minute, then knead out on a smooth surface where you’ve sprinkled a little flour, until it is smooth and easy to work with.
Cut or rip the dough into smaller parts, then twist, roll or braid different buns. Just remember larger buns will take longer to cook through. Decorate with raisins (optional).
Put the shaped buns on a greased tray and let them rise under a tea towel for another half hour). Lightly paint them with an egg wash.
Bake at about 200 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes or more, depending on your oven and the size of the buns. Just keep an eye on them and take them out of the oven when they are golden brown.