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Maritime Muse

Oslo, Norway

A voyage of discovery for Oslo’s latest design hotel, Amerikalinjen

Oslo has welcomed a much-anticipated addition to its design hotel offering this month with the opening of Amerikalinjen, set in one of the city’s most iconic buildings. Produced and owned by Nordic Hotels & Resorts (purveyors of local boutique favourite, The Thief), the hotel occupies the former headquarters of Norwegian America Line, the cruise ship company founded in 1910 that transported over 900,000 Norwegians in search of a new life in America – the ‘land of opportunity’.

The building, set on Jernbanetorget Square, adjacent to Central Station, dates back to 1919 when local architects Andreas Bjercke and Georg Eliassen were commissioned to create a Neo-Baroque building with maritime accents. What resulted was a grand space befitting of the golden age of maritime travel – with soaring vaulted ceilings, statement staircases and decorative mouldings – and a worthy starting point for the many intrepid emigrants setting off to find the American dream.

Inspired by stories of the settlers, explorers and sailors, the new owners sourced inspiration from the transatlantic journeys, from forgotten cocktail recipes, dining menus and original glassware mouldings to maritime decorations, maps and ornaments like the sculptures of Triton, messenger of the sea, and Nereid, protector of sailors and fishermen, that hang over the oak front doors.

The new owners sourced inspiration from transatlantic journeys, forgotten cocktail recipes, dining menus and original glassware mouldings
Norwegian design dots the interior. Hertug Chair by Eikund
Soft neutral palette and harbour views
Interiors by Finnish studio, Puroplan

Local firm Kritt Architects was tasked with reimagining the building, creating 122 rooms and suites alongside an all-day brasserie, bar, basement jazz club and covered courtyard garden. Helsinki-based studio Puroplan headed up the interior design with cleverly defined room spaces that use opaque glass and smoked mirrors, placing emphasis on framed artworks from the ships, revived mid-century Norwegian furniture and pendant lamps from Norwegian glass company Hadeland, who provided the ships’ original glassware.

The local influence intermingles with American themed artworks – curated by Sune Nordgren – namely figurative painter Alex Katz, former street artist Shepard Fairey, and a two-and-a-half-metre tall sculpture, called Towers (representing modern America) – by British artist Julian Opie.

“Just like America was called the Land of Opportunity, today Norway has been given the same title; people are coming here full of the hopes, dreams and aspirations that we had when we left,’’ says Petter Stordalen, the owner of Nordic Hotels & Resorts. ‘‘We wanted to create a hotel that tells this story of people in motion and to rejuvenate and bring life back to this historical building. This is a hotel not just for guests, but for everyone.”