Photo by www.copenhagenmediacenter.com
Chill out in Copenhagen
The Danish capital is hip, relaxed and has great hotels and restaurants. It would be a crime not to visit, says James Ellis
Nordic noir is going from strength to strength. Following the success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander novels, BBC Four’s The Killing is the latest cult crime offering from Scandinavia. It is set around Copenhagen, the vibrant Danish capital, where you can take in the world’s top restaurant and the world’s top chef, some of Europe’s best boutique hotels and a host of things to do. Here’s our pick of what’s wonderful about the city.
Where to stay
The Nimb Hotel While it may look like Brighton Pavilion in miniature from the outside, the boutique Nimb is Copenhagen’s classiest accommodation option. There are only 14 rooms, 8 of them suites, all featuring four-posters, lush linens and tasteful art. The in-house restaurant, Herman, has a Michelin star and the Vinotek wine bar has more than 1,200 bottles of fine wine. The fairytale exterior complements its location as part of the Tivoli Gardens, the 19th-century amusement park with carnival rides that retain much of their old charm. Entrance to the gardens is included in a stay.
Details Two nights’ B&B in a double room cost from DK4,000 (£467) when booked through Small Leading Hotels of the World (slh.com)
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel The self-proclaimed “world’s first designer hotel”, which looms over Copenhagen for 22 floors, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The architect Arne Jacobsen was commissioned in the early 1960s by the airline SAS, which saw the city as a gateway for North American visitors, but was concerned by the lack of quality hotel rooms. Jacobsen took the commission to heart, designing everything from light fittings to a range of contoured chairs such as the Egg, Swan, Giraffe and Oxford that are so timeless that they live on today, despite the hotel undergoing several refurbishments over the years. The Alberto K restaurant is regularly voted in the city’s top ten.
Details One night’s B&B in a double room from £360, including a glass of champagne and a Copenhagen Card. (00 45 33 42 60 00, radissonblugne.com)
Axel Hotel Guldsmeden The best of the city’s three Guldsmeden hotels is in the heart of the trendy Vesterbro district, which is packed with hip bars and clubs. All 129 rooms feature four-poster beds and Balinese fixtures and fittings; the nouveau bohemian theme continues in the restaurant, where the organic brunch menu is crammed with superfoods, and in the hotel’s carbon-neutral policy. Bag one of the penthouse suites; each has a balcony and a hot tub from which to admire the views.
Details One night room only in a double from £115. Brunch is £17pp. 00 45 3331 3266, hotelguldsmeden.com
Tivoli Hotel Anyone with a family will love the new Tivoli Hotel. Little guests are greeted by classic Danish pantomime characters Columbine, Harlequin and Pierrot, while several themed rooms feature candy-stripe wallpaper and lights that are made from recycled trumpets or shaped like the Tivoli’s Ferris wheel. Unlike The Nimb, the hotel is not at the gardens themselves but a short walk away, though admission is included in the price.
Details One night room only in a double from £130. 00 45 4487 0000, tivolihotel.com
Wakeup Hotel In a city that can test the deepest pockets, the Wakeup is a welcome option. Basic yet stylish, it is what an hotel created by Ikea might look like. There are dozens of modern touches such as space-saving shower cubicles-cum-hanging rails, flat-screen TVs and allergy-resistant materials. It is similar to London’s Hoxton Hotel, and the reception sells everything from toothbrushes to cans of Carlsberg. Despite the free wi-fi access throughout, there are four terminals from which to access the net.
Details One night room only in a double room from £60. 00 45 4480 0000, www.wakeupcopenhagen.com
Where to eat & drink
Noma failed to gain its much-anticipated third Michelin star when this year’s Main Cities of Europe guide was published on Wednesday, but chef-owner René Redzepi retains his No 1 one position in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for at least another month (the 2011 list is released on April 18). A deserved gong it was too: Redzepi’s creative take on North Atlantic staples has done much to inspire the city to its current culinary heights. Bookings are being taken on April 1 for dates from July 1. A seven-course taster menu is DK 1095pp (£128).
Details 0045 3296 3297, noma.dk
Geranium If further proof were needed of Copenhagen’s culinary status, then how about it not only being home to the world’s best restaurant but also to the world’s leading chef ? Rasmus Kofoed picked up last year’s Bocuse d’Or award. Geranium, with its wonderful organic menu, has recently moved a mile from the city centre to a new location with great views. Kofoed was awarded a “rising star” on Wednesday, usually a precursor to a first Michelin award. A nine-course taster menu is about £115.
Details 0045 6996 0020, geranium.dk
Kødbyens Fiskebar If Vesterbro is Copenhagen’s beating nightlife heart, the former Meatpacking District around Halmtorvet street is its pulse. Kødbyens, a gorgeous fish restaurant in one of the old slaughterhouses, attracts a buzzing and beautiful crowd, particularly at weekends. The chef Anders Selmer is a Noma protégé and offers a new Nordic spin on local seafood, although the huge tropical fish tank at the centre of the restaurant can be a distraction. Starters cost from £12 and mains from £24.
Details 0045 3215 5656, fiskebaren.dk
Karriere Bar Another Meatpacking District favourite, this is a café, restaurant and exhibition and performance spacein one. The bar where, says the menu, “yuppies are charged extra”, features lights from ten Danish artists. Ulrik Weck’s pots, pans and bowls hung upside down as lampshades and Jesper Dalgaard’s huge floating planet made from cut willow are the most impressive. Mains cost from £21.Details 0045 3321 5509, karrierebar.com
The Oak Room Norrebro, the city’s Latin Quarter, is home to a number of cooler, more traditional cocktail bars such as this. A long skinny space swathed in red light, with minimalist decor, it boasts a cocktail list with some twists, including an Elderflower Martini and a rhubarb and cava spritzer; the signature Slutty Mary is spicy enough for a curry house.
Details 00 45 3860 3860, oakroom.dk
What to do
Go cycling There’s a cycle culture here and roads can be refreshingly car free. Bike Copenhagen With Mike tours sights such as the Tivoli Gardens, the Old Town and the harbour. The City Tour (£30 with bike) passes many locations from The Killing.
Details 00 45 2639 5688, bikecopenhagenwithmike.dk
Go to the theatre The imposing Royal Danish Playhouse is worth a visit for a tour or to eat at the Ofelia restaurant, with its wooden verandah over the water with views to the harbour. Walk down Nyhavn to get there and you pass Hans Christian Andersen’s house. The Little Mermaid statue, inspired by his fairytale, is near by.
Details 00 45 3369 6933, kglteater.dk
Take a foodie tour Michelin stars are all the rage, but delve deeper and find the inspiration behind the awards. This two-hour tour (£28) takes in Moroccan tea houses, twists on classic Danish Smørrebrød and traditional shops, markets and cafés.
Details 00 45 2980 1040, cphcool.dk
Visit Freetown Christiania In the early 1970s squatters took over an old army base in Christianshavn and declared autonomy. That is tolerated (if not accepted) by the authorities and the commune now consists of 850 people with a relaxed take on certain illegal substance laws. The citizens are friendly and welcoming, and there are some great bars with live bands.
Brewery visits The Carlsberg Brewery has a huge influence on the city. From the old housing projects for workers in Brumleby, now gentrified, to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek sculpture museum, the amber nectar’s presence is ubiquitous. Tours (£7.50, with two beers) cover history, show how the beer is made and also offer the chance to ride on one of the old delivery wagons (£6.50).
Details 00 45 3327 1282, visitcarlsberg.dk
Need to know Getting there SAS (0871 226 7760, flysas.co.uk) has a sale until Monday (March 21) with one-way flights from Heathrow to Copenhagen from £62. You get a free city card with access to museums, discounts on restaurants and free public transport. Two children under 10 travel free with each card. For more see visitcopenhagen.com