Top 20 hotels in Northern Europe: Readers’ Choice Awards 2021
Set the scene. Many people will experience Oslo through Jo Nesbø’s thrillers Harry Hole, but until recently the Norwegian capital was not an obvious weekend destination, with most visitors passing through the ski slopes or the Northern Lights. . It started to change. While not the prettiest of towns, it is building a reputation for its contemporary art, architecture – check out the glacier-like Snøhetta opera house, and the nearly completed Munch Museum and National Library – and an intriguing food scene that makes ample use of the country’s incredibly fresh seafood.
What is the story? Well, it’s a central landmark that dates back to 1919, when it was the neo-baroque square-jawed HQ of the Norwegian American Line, a time when Norwegians jumped ship to seek their fortunes in the New World. It was reinvented by Nordic Hotels, which is one of Scandinavia’s largest groups but retains a low-key presence at the Amerikalinjen and its older brother The Thief, the (literally) art hotel that caused a sensation during from its opening in 2013. Original details have been kept intact, such as the Art Nouveau wood carvings above the doors and the sculptures of a sea god and spirit above the entrance, and the ground floor space has been transformed into a fluid succession of bar, bistro and restaurant, as well as a glass-covered veranda with fireplace and faux foliage. Everywhere, oceanic memorabilia such as menus and vintage snaps – look for one of the Haakon kings on the 7 with a walrus mustache – are gathered in pairs alongside bright pop art works by Shepard Fairey and Alex Katz, Swarms. pendant lights; and less obvious Scandinavian design classics, including the Veng armchair by Torbjørn Bekken.
What can we expect in our room? The occasional rattle and buzz of the tram outside, the sound of bicycle bells, people watching from a padded window seat. All rooms have light wood floors and navy beds, with matching velvety sofas and Scandinavian motifs evident in the lamps and casual chairs; there are framed liner pictures and menus on the walls, bedside decanters filled with filtered water. Bathrooms are carefully framed behind industrial-chic iron frames, with monochrome tiles and locally made Sprekenhus potions. The largest rooms are the suites of the former company council rooms.
What about food and drink? It’s possible to snack all day long, with flexible menus that marry New York classics with Norwegian ingredients, bagels with smoked salmon with deer tartare and lingonberry pavlova, whole baked turbot and mac à truffle. There are some inventive cuisines in Oslo, but the menus here play a little safe, even though the price is very reasonable in a city where dining out can be insanely expensive. A hell of a good coffee too. The cocktail menu crosses historic moments for the country and the United States: emigration stirs tequila with rooibos, lemongrass and wine, for example; Discovery of Oil is more martini-style, with a slick of black coconut oil floating over a mushroom and cheese infused aquavit.
How is the crowd? A pretty local scene on the weekends – the city’s brunch scene is still in its infancy, but jazz Sundays in the bistro get them along, with Al Green and A Tribe Called Quest on the soundsystem between sets and Norwegian eggs on the menu. A lot of people may have jumped on the boat here from Copenhagen; others from London, who already know Stockholm and other Nordic city breaks.
Something to say about the service? Almost Fifth Avenue in his attention – no need to tip the bell boy – with checkered jackets in the bar.
How is the neighborhood scene?
The hotel is located in the central Jernbanetorget square, opposite the main train station for frictionless transfers to the airport. The square was once Oslo’s Times Square, but has improved its style and, although a bit unremarkable, easily leads to interesting parts of the city, such as the harbor – where the Opera House, the Munch Museum is located. and the new library – and bohemian neighborhoods like Grunerløkka. Ask the concierge to show you the way to Svanen Bar, in an old pharmacy, and Katla Restaurant, the new project from the former chef of favorite foodie Pjoltergeist. Walk to sister hotel The Thief on Tjuvholmen Island and you’ll find enough contemporary art galleries for a weekend of browsing.
Anything else to add? The Basement Jazz Lounge, named after the founder of the shipping company, Gustav, regularly features tributes to Peggy Lee, Sinatra and other greats. Also look for the small, perfectly formed gym – which has a punching bag and one of those rowers with real water – and the wood-roofed reading room, which looks like a railroad car. the old one.
Something you would change? It’s a shame that the jazz concerts downstairs only take place on Fridays.
Is it worth it? Oh yes. Oslo is booming, and it has front row seats.