A weekend in Copenhagen
Home of the “happiest place on earth” (Happiness Research Institute) thanks to Hygge mid-century-design, and the Danish Royal Family, Copenhagen is a Mecca for fashionable minimalists with an interest in fine dining and architecture. The chic, well designed and highly curated city subverts any pretension that often comes with high design and instead offers a relaxing, harmonious cityscape.
There is no question about visiting the Design Museum when in Copenhagen. As the first stop on many lists, the Museum has a phenomenal collection of Danish design including an entire exhibit on Danish chairs. With special travelling exhibitions throughout the year – an ode to Japanese design – oddly perfectly synchronised to Danish design, the space from it’s architecture, sculpture garden to surroundings is a harmonious ode to Copenhagen and the designers of Danish excellence.
For a the royalists out there, Rosenborg Castle is not one of the major royal palaces but it is home to the Crown Jewels and was home to King Christian IV during Medieval times and thereafter his son, King Frederik IV. The array of interior changes throughout the residence between Kings shows a level of opulence of the royals that is today, far from association of the Danish royals. The gardens are open to the public and are beautifully manicured and the perfect place for an afternoon walk.
For those in search of something a little different, Alternative Christiania is a freetown, hippy neighbourhood cultivated in the 1970s that acts as an independent, self sufficient community, that today mostly deals in hash production. Whilst many still live within the community, the former successes operating in old school trades such as weaving, blacksmith and organic food production has wained over the last decade. A popular spot for tourism, many inhabitants today put on a show resulting in a less than authentic experience.
It is hard to question the quality and excellence of food in Copenhagen. As the home of NOMA what could go wrong? With offshoots and inspiration everywhere, nothing bad has come from NOMA’s success. Combining traditional methods, with local produce, modern expectations and of course, Danish design, there are many restaurants that are the star attraction. None other than, BODIL which is quickly developing quite the reputation. As many Danish restaurant experiences go, BODIL has a set menu that changes based on available, local ingredients. Testament to the natural flavours and the shake up of flavour combinations, this restaurant is well ahead of the times.
A traditional steak restaurant, Retour steak Vesterbro is well regarded for it’s well sourced, well cared for meats. As the centrepiece of the meal, sides are a delicious addition to the curated steak philosophy bred in the kitchen. As a bonus, Retour has an excellent selection behind the bar with delicious cocktails and wine.
For the full, Danish experience, Restaurant Palægade cannot be missed. The impeccably designed Danish favourites all in one place dining room matches perfectly to the complex and highly thought out menu. Designed again, as a changing menu based what is on offer at market, there are some staple favourites such as the months ranged cured herring that takes a permanent place on the eleven course menu. Small but unbelievably rich servings leave you wanting more and more. This institution is simply divine.
The Coffee Collective is the home of coffee in Europe. Distributing all over, they have built quite a reputation as one of the best roasters and curators of coffee in the world. Sure enough, Copenhagen is where they call home and with four outlets from the roastery to cafes around town, it is hard to miss a lightly roasted cup of batch brew, espresso or milk-based coffee from the pros.
After a rebranding and a reshuffle, CUB Coffee Bar is the best place in Copenhagen for coffee. With well balanced flavours between drinks: creamy blends for milk, dark roasted origins for espresso and clean, light filter fragrances, CUB is a well thought out addition to the coffee industry, targeting customer needs and creating the best opportunities with coffee.
Torvehallerne is a great stop for a sample of all the best street foods and coffee available in Copenhagen. With a Coffee Collective stall as well as the famous Grød (gourmet porridge bar) there are bars, fresh pasta, coffee, bakeries and hot food stands under two large tarpon-like structures. Well worth a visit for a sample size of food in the city.
Not known as big drinkers, the city offers a range of little cocktail bar spots dotted around some of the more populated areas, with a warm and cozy vibe greatly needed on a cold, dark, wintery afternoon. The Danes biggest alcohol export has to be Mikkeller – a local microbrewery that is producing sizeable exports around Europe and North America. With 13 namesake locations around the city there is no shortage of Dane-designed outlets from bars to restaurants to source some of their brews. For the in-between drinker, The Barking Dog brings the comfort of the pub together with high end cocktails in an underground, hole-in-the-wall way. A busy night spot in the hipster district of Nørrebro, means you can make bookings, or arrive a little earlier for some pre-dinner cocktails.
No visit to Copenhagen is complete without stopping by the wide variety of design stores spread across the city. Home to some of the most highly regarded modern design houses in the world, this shopping experience is designed end-to-end as a relaxing, joyful experience amongst like-minded shoppers. Surprising too is the reasonable pricing of some of the prized pieces. HAY is a world of pastel, contemporary, smooth lines and aesthetic functionality. From dining furniture, bathroom accessories, kitchen necessities and everything in-between HAY have everything you could ever need and more in a chic, minimalist fashion.
Notre Dame is a mini-market of all things homewares. Their online shop and openness to ship around the world allows you to pre-plan before your visit. From hooks, rugs, garden pots and as a great stockist of Broste Copenhagen products, this store has everything from textiles to outdoor furniture.
Normann Copenhagen is the essence of Scandinavian design. A little out of the city centre but well worth the visit, the showroom is a drool worthy visit for any furniture nerd. The kind of place you wish to get locked in for the night, Normann is a true forward thinker with a strong reputation and long lasting history of innovative design with a shoutout to the trailblazers of the Bauhaus years.
Copenhagen is truly a city to visit again and again. With so much to offer, from history, monarchy, design, forward thinking philosophies about society and culture, and just generally a wonderful place of wellness.