Vår historie •  Karl Johan Hotel • Oslos beste beliggenhet!

Our history

The Karl Johan Hotel is an historic and stately hotel located centrally on Karl Johans gate

The hotel was recently fully renovated and has 157 rooms in different categories, a restaurant, bar and two lounges. The hotel building as it looks today dates back to 1899, but has been serving as a hotel since 1874. Since the hotel consists of three connected buildings, it offers a wide variety of room types. The hotel has both quiet rooms with a window facing the inner courtyard and rooms facing Karl Johans gate, as well as the side street Rosenkrantzgate. With views of Karl Johan, Parliament (Stortinget) and the Royal Palace (Slottet), guests can also enjoy the lively atmosphere of the park.

ven with fantastic views of Spikersuppa, sidewalk restaurants, cultural buildings and the city’s main street, we are located on a quiet section of Karl Johans gate without traffic noise. Sit on the windowsill with a cup of coffee and take in all the sights and sounds

The hotel is a stone’s throw from the city’s best shops, restaurants, bars, theatres and cultural attractions, and only a short walk to Aker Brygge, where you can visit the bustling wharf, restaurants, cultural attractions and Akershus Fortress. The Karl Johan Hotel combines a variety of styles with a personal touch. ‘Something borrowed, something new’ gives the hotel its informal ambiance. The hotel’s colour pallet and interior design are inspired by the history of the hotel and distinctiveness of the building. The rooms and various hotel functions are designed to be experienced as fashionably comfortable with a city vibe. The hotel is a social hub, a meeting place for both those with a packed schedule and those with time to spare as they go about their day. Whether traveling with friends, family, for work or meeting with colleagues, the Karl Johan Hotel is the perfect venue.

he hotel’s history from the 1840s as part of an urban development plan in which the Royal Palace, Parliament and the city’s main street were to showcase the pride of Christiania, as Oslo was called at the time, reflects its important role in the hotel sector. Over the years, the building was demolished and transformed from being the only log construction building in the Karl Johan district to a proud corner building in German Baroque style in 1899.

From the very start, the hotel was run by the Larsen sisters, offering warm, friendly service and a heartfelt welcome to all guests – even those who were unable to pay their bill. The generosity of the sisters boosted the popularity of the hotel, which has continued from one era to the next. That same commitment to guests, warm hospitality and customer focus still characterises the identity of the hotel to this very day.

Over the years, hotel guests have experienced historic events from a front-row seat, with an up-close view that others could only dream of. In fact, most of these events took place just outside the entrance to the hotel and below the windows facing Karl Johans gate, a main street in a ‘rural setting’, where sophisticated young women were courted by eligible bachelors and the setting of every royal wedding, funeral, coronation, state visit and last but not least, Norway’s no. 1 national treasure: 17 May Constitution Day celebrations.

The Larsen sisters

"Once you’re stayed with the Larsen sisters, you’ll want to return again and again!”

The Larsen Sisters Private Hotel was in operation from 1874 to 1903. Karl Johans gate 33 was the only wooden building in the Karl Johan district at the time. This wooden building was torn down and the current building completed in 1899, still serving as a hotel run by the Larsen sisters. (Photograph: L. Szacinski (company). Oslo Museum/OB.SZ12179)

The Larsen sisters


he Larsen Sisters Private Hotel was in operation from 1874 to 1903. Miss Marte and Miss Marie were described as two altruistic sisters ‘of high moral character’. They grew up in Smaalendene in an old, wealthy farming family and moved to Christiania in their 20s to work. Marte had previously worked as a housemaid for the Nansen family in Store Frøen, which is why Fridtjof Nansen always stayed with the Larsen sisters on Karl Johan after returning from his polar expeditions.


arte had served as the right hand of the lady of the house at Frøen and was held in very high regard. She had a solution to every problem and was diligent, hardworking woman. Marte took delight in the happiness and well-being of others and is said to have had a heart of gold. She has also been described as “highly respected and loved” and showed this same warmth and dedication to her hotel guests. “She wanted only the very best for her guests, resulting in a much lower profit than could have been achieved,” said the attorney Nansen in an interview. “Marte loved to work for work’s sake” and performed several functions, including cooking when any of the kitchen staff were ill. Personally, she was very frugal, even “to the point of extremity”, but was always generous and accommodating to her guests.


arie had worked at Møller chemist’s shop and the sisters first opened an eatery on Dronningens gate before relocating to Karl Johans gate 33 in 1874. At the time, Christian Magnus owned the property, where a large grocery store was housed on the first floor. The sisters gave the hotel its soul and personality, which continue to this very day!

“She wanted only the very best for her guests, resulting in a much lower profit than could have been achieved.” Description of Marte Larsen

Kitchen maids and servants at the Karl Johan Hotel

This picture from 1902 shows the founders of the hotel, sisters Marie and Marte Larsen, together with their hardworking kitchen staff. The sisters ran the hotel from 1874 to 1903 and took on several apprentices in the kitchen to work alongside the hotel’s all-female staff.

Young girls often moved to Christiania from rural areas to look for work. This is why in the early 1900s, there were large numbers of young women in the city, with no fewer than 139 women for every 100 men in 1890. This earned Christiania the name the ‘City of Young Women’. The most common profession for women in the capital was as a servant, with 46% of the working female population working as servants in 1875. It was a tough job, requiring that they work from morning to evening, with little time off and tight living quarters. To all of our hotel employees in the ‘old days’, from cooks and chambermaids to our often female directors ... thank you for all you have done to ensure that our guests have an ‘exquisite’ stay with us.
We continue to take great pride in offering our guests an exceptional experience.
Photograph: L. Szacinski (company). Oslo Museum/OB.SZ08644

Architect Ove Ekman


kman Restaurant – Our restaurant on the second floor is named after the building’s architect Ove Ekman. Ekman was one of the most respected and sought-after architects in the 1800s and early 1900s. He designed several of the business buildings in the Kvadraturen area.

Ekman was a graduate of the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry (called the Royal Drawing School at the time) in Christiania and continued his studies in Germany, Italy and France. When he returned to Norway in 1872, he started his own firm and was commissioned by the government, municipality, institutions and private individuals.

Ove Ekman’s particular strengths as an architect were his financial, practical and technical skills. His details, style elements and ornamentation were inspired by the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque and Classic periods. He was also adamant about the quality of all materials used.

His extensive experience with industrial buildings, hotels, restaurants and apartment buildings earned him a distinguished reputation. Karl Johansgate 33 is a majestic corner building of granite and sandstone in a classic German Baroque style. The building was completed in 1899, the same year that Ove Ekman was awarded Knight 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. It is with pride that we have dedicated the very heart of the hotel, its restaurant, to the architect who crafted such an exquisitely beautiful hotel – at the best location in Oslo!

Christian Semb Magnus

Christian Semb Magnus was a businessman best known for having given his name to the ‘Magnus building’ at Karl Johans gate 33, the corner building that houses the Karl Johan Hotel.

In 1869, Christian opened a delicatessen on Karl Johans gate and in 1873, purchased the corner building at 33, the main building of today’s Karl Johan Hotel. He lived here with his wife Hermine and their three children. In 1897, the wooden building was torn down and Christian had the current building built in decorative classical German Baroque style.

Magnus’ delicatessen was the first shop in the Karl Johan district. It was considered one of the city’s finest shops and one of the first to have indoor electricity installed. This contributed to the development of Karl Johan as a promenade. The shop was later taken over by Oluf Lorentzen.

Christian Magnus is an important figure in the history of the Karl Johan Hotel because the corner building owes its very existence to his ownership.

We have honoured Christian Magnus with a meeting room named after him.

A warm welcome to the Karl Johan Hotel, whether you are here for business or to enjoy a break in comfortable and attractive surroundings!

Photograph: Wilse, Anders Beer. Oslo Museum/OB.A01112 (1904)
(Note: The man in the picture is an unknown pedestrian on Karl Johans gate)

When the tram rode along Karl Johans gate!

The picture shows Karl Johans gate in 1914 at a time when the tram was considered a major tourist attraction in Oslo.

From horse-drawn streetcars in 1875 to electric trams in the 1900s, passengers have been transported along Oslo’s beautiful main street in style.

In 1970, large sections of Karl Johans gate were converted into a pedestrian area, making Oslo’s main street the world’s only pedestrian zone with tram tracks! This fact was used widely in marketing the city of Oslo, but after much debate, the last tram ran down Karl Johans gate on 25 March 1983.

Guests of the Karl Johan Hotel, called Hotel Nobel at the time, were among those to wave goodbye to 107 year of tram history on an elaborately decorated main street lined by thousands of spectators.

We continue to proudly host guests who enjoy a front-row seat for events large and small from our hotel.

Photograph: Wilse, Anders Beer. Oslo Museum/OB.Y2011. Year: 1914.

Source: oslogeek.no

Narvesen kiosk

Right outside the Karl Johan Hotel is the oldest kiosk in Oslo, the ‘Centrum kiosk’, better known as the Narvesen kiosk.

Built in 1914, the kiosk has been renovated several times over the years and was the result of an architecture competition in 1912 hosted by the Narvesen Kioskkompani.

Prior to this, a tower kiosk was built on Eidsvoll Square in 1898, the year before the Karl Johan Hotel’s new corner building was completed, but was replaced by the

Centrum kiosk. Today, the kiosk is a protected structure and a beautiful and familiar sight to many a hurrying passer-by, as well as culture aficionados.

You can enjoy – and shop at – this little bit of Oslo history when staying at the Karl Johan Hotel.

“Photograph: Ørnelund, Leif. Oslo Museum/OB.Ø57/0160a”

It goes without saying that we are immensely proud of our hotel, its role as an observer of history in the making
and last but not least, its exquisite style and excellent comfort.

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