It also puts Oslo on the map for lovers of independent, design-driven hotels

Norway’s capital Oslo may not be top of mind when one thinks of Scandinavian design—neighbouring cities Copenhagen and Stockholm still dominate the scene—but the arrival of Amerikalinjen, a boutique hotel that opened in March 2019, is hoping to change that. It has clearly invested a lot of thought and effort in architecture and design, and it serves as a great base to discover why Oslo is one of the world's least stressful cities.

A member of the Lifestyle Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Amerikalinjen is housed in a carefully converted landmark building. It retains all the bygone charm of a heritage property and yet is designed for the way we travel today. The interiors have a retro-eclectic feel, a direction pursued by local practice Kritt Architects, who consciously kept elements such as the building's maritime trimmings and ornate mouldings while infusing it with a touch of modernity through sleek lighting fixtures and contemporary furniture.

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The iconic building that houses the hotel was the former headquarters of the cruise ship company Norwegian America Line, which once served as the starting point for many hopeful Norwegians making their journey to the United States. Conceived by Norwegian architects Andreas Bjercke and George Eliassen in 1919, the 20th-century structure is now positioned as a place for today’s modern explorers exactly a century later. 

As a fan of adaptive reuse, the fact that they transformed a corporate building into a 122-room hotel was already a strong draw. The history of the storied space was evident from the moment I saw the preserved facade and entered the hotel's heavy carved wooden doors. There are plenty of other facets that showcase its Neo-Baroque roots—vaulted ceilings, grand staircase, and even a gilded lift were all retained to form the foundation of this unique hotel. 

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Instead of the usual "hygge" (cosy) aesthetic that most people associate with Scandinavian design, the rooms at Amerikalinjen are more colourful and glamourous. The beds are set against a smoked-glass mirrored wall; the materials, fixtures and motifs channel an Art Deco feel; and the walls are decorated with a gallery-style display of framed maps, photographs, and menus uncovered during the restoration. 

The rooms also feature Mid-Century modern furniture pieces that perpetuate a retro feel. A plus: the bathroom is stocked with amenities from Norwegian natural beauty brand Sprekenhus, which you'd definitely want to take home.

One of Amerikalinjen's greatest assets is its unparalleled location on Jernbanetorget Square in downtown Oslo. It's right outside the Central Railway station, making it extremely easy to reach (and find) even if it’s your first time in Oslo. One of the city's most prominent landmarks, The Opera, is a short walk from the hotel; from there, you can continue to have a relaxing walk by the lively promenade while looking at the mesmerising fjords.

The retail haven of Kvadraturen and entertainment district of Youngstorget are also just a few steps away, ensuring plenty of food, drink and shopping options. Don't forget to check out the up-and-coming Bjørvika neighbourhood, where the Munch Museum and newly-renovated Deichman public library are located.

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Even if you’re not staying at Amerikalinjen, you should consider passing by for a meal or a drink as they've put a lot of thought into their bars and restaurants. The space that first caught my eye was The Haven—a verdant covered courtyard clad with the building’s original yellow tiles, which was buzzing with patrons during my visit. The all-day brasserie Atlas is also a popular spot and is where hotel guests have breakfast. It features a lovely spread that includes local choices—I enjoyed brunost (brown cheese), for instance—alongside international favourites (yes, they have a great avo toast). 

Naturally, the theme of travel is evident in the other dining concepts as well. At the basement, there's Gustav, a speakeasy-style club inspired by New York’s vibrant jazz scene. At the lobby, there's Pier 42, a cocktail bar that was named after the first place passengers disembark at in the Big Apple. This is a choice spot to nurse a well-made drink while watching the world (and the charming trams) pass you by. 

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