Once a low-key underrated city, for the past decade the Danish capital has been showered with superlatives. Polls claim it to have the world’s best quality of life and rate its citizens as the happiest people on the planet. Here’s our guide to where to stay in Copenhagen.
Despite its new-found glory, Copenhagen remains a relaxed, homely place, with accommodation to match – though it doesn’t come cheap. Facilities offered at most places are ultra-modern, often beautifully designed with eco-conscious features. There are also several excellent hostels that rival budget hotels in terms of value and style. Be aware that the latter are often packed with rowdy Swedish students during the summer holidays and availability can be an issue at these times.
Tivoli, Denmark’s most-visited attraction, may appear at first glance every bit as tacky as any other amusement park around the world. But it actually has much more to offer than just its thrilling set of rides. Its 83,000-square-metre gardens have gorgeous flower displays and fountains, and there’s a romantic boating lake, exotic buildings and spectacular illuminations at night. A few paces away is buzzing Rådhuspladsen square, whose innards hold a fascinating astronomical clock. Hotels close to the sights of Tivoli are particularly expensive.
Best for fairy-tale luxury: Hotel Nimb
A fairy-tale hotel located upstairs in Tivoli’s Moorish-inspired Nimb building from 1909. With just fourteen individually decorated, extravagant rooms, it can lay claim to being Copenhagen’s original boutique hotel. Features include open fireplaces, antique wooden furniture and sweeping views of the gardens. Hotel Nimb’s opulence covers in-room massage and a private chauffeur service (additional fee).
Best for comfort at hostel prices: Danhostel City
Housed in Denmark’s first high-rise building, this modern five-star hostel dates from 1955. With more than one thousand rooms over sixteen floors, it offers wonderful views over Copenhagen. Add the interior design by GUBI, facilities such as a bar-café in the lobby and games room in the basement, and you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re staying at a modern hotel – albeit one with bunk beds.
Like accommodation in Tivoli, places to rest your head in the Inner City are pretty pricey. That said, you’re paying for an excellent location. This is Copenhagen’s heart and hub, its compact warren of narrow streets and cobbled squares home to the capital’s principal shopping district and countless bars and restaurants. Historic buildings rub shoulders with modern but the area, bisected by the bustling pedestrianized thoroughfare of Strøget, is at its most atmospheric around the Latin Quarter, original home to the university.
Best for location: Hotel Sanders
Sanders is a five-storey luxury boutique hotel in a Jugendstil building from the 1860s. The 52 rooms range from snug to extremely spacious. The hotel’s magnificent interior design includes bespoke furniture from the colonial era as well as Danish classic design. The location around the corner of The Royal Danish Theatre is hard to beat.
Best for interior design buffs: Hotel Sankt Petri
Ultra-stylish design hotel housed in a former five-storey department store. The spacious rooms have dark parquet flooring and sleek Scandinavian furniture such as the super-comfortable Jensen bed.
Packed with busy bars and restaurants, canalside Nyhavn attracts thousands of visitors thanks to its pretty postcard setting. To Nyhavn’s north are the elegant Rococo houses of Frederiksstaden, built as a grand symbol of Frederik V’s reign. The huge dome of the Marmorkirken dominates the skyline, while three main streets divide the area. Store Kongensgade is lined with galleries, restaurants and high-end shops, Bredgade is quieter, and cobbled Amaliegade bisects the palaces of Amalienborg. All three streets lead up to Christian IV’s impressive defensive fortress, the grass-bastioned Kastellet. Finally, perched on a lonely rock off the Kastellet’s northern edge, is the city’s most famous icon – the diminutive Little Mermaid.
Best for warehouse chic: Admiral Hotel
Romantic waterfront hotel in a vast converted warehouse from 1787. Lots of its original features are still intact such as vaulted brick ceilings and enormous wooden beams. There are 300 rooms spread over six floors, each with its own unique charm. A sea view will cost extra.
Best for spa lovers: Babette Guldsmeden
Formerly the Hotel Esplanaden, the Guldsmeden hotel group have added a touch of luxury to this old building, which overlooks Churchill Parken and Kastellet. There’s a rooftop spa and brasserie for real indulgence.
Christian IV’s Renaissance summer palace, the Rosenborg Slot, provides a real contrast with the crowded streets of the inner city to the east. To its west is an almost continuous string of attractive parks and gardens. Apart from being lovely places to stay nearby, they also house several significant museums, including the Statens Museum for Kunst and Hirschsprungske Samling, the city’s Botanical Gardens.
Best for arty types: Ibsen
Arty hotel situated on a Nansensgade street corner with bright and airy rooms spread across two interconnected 19th-century buildings. Works by local artists (some for sale) are on display throughout the hotel. The management even accept art for part payment of rooms.
Best for environmentally minded visitors: Manon les Suites Guldsmeden
This hotel offers 82 suites, each able to accommodate a family or group of five people. Like the rest of the Guldsmeden Hotel family, Manon emphasizes sustainability – not just in its organic food and beauty products but also its daily operations. Room décor is distinctly hip and mid-century-modern in character. The location is convenient for both Torvhallerne – the food hall – and Tivoli amusement park.
With its tight network of narrow canals and cobbled streets, Christianshavn is one of the city’s most charming areas. Water is omnipresent, unsurprising given that the island was constructed from reclaimed land in the 16th century to form a defensive arc around the city. Its primary tourist interest is the unique “Freetown” of Christiania, home to one of the world’s most famous alternative communities. To the north, former naval base Holmen and its neighbouring islands have been re-energized after decades of disuse with post-industrial developments.
Best for a bobbing base: CPH Living
Absolutely gorgeous hotel boat with twelve identical smartly furnished rooms all facing Christian IV’s furnished brew-house on the opposite bank. Reception is unstaffed and you need an access code to get in, which is given to you when you pay for the room. There’s a sundeck with fine views and fresh sea air.
Best for chic apartment living: Central Canal Apartments
A series of clean, white and wood apartments, with fully equipped kitchens.
The two neighbouring districts of Vesterbro and Frederiksberg couldn’t be more contrasting. Vesterbro was until recently a neglected working-class area. Urban regeneration projects over the past fifteen years have smartened it up, inflating the value of property, and attracting more affluent residents. They have brought with them a slew of edgy art galleries, restaurants and bars. Conservative Frederiksberg combines elegant tree-lined avenues, beautiful parks and grand villas.
Best for boutique bliss: Axel Guldsmeden
Among the city’s most appealing boutique hotels with beautiful Balinese-inspired decor. This is where the supermodels come to stay and you’re likely to feel like one after a couple of days, with your every whim catered for. Given the level of pampering, all this comes at a very reasonable price.
Best for families: Ansgar
Small, friendly family hotel in what used to be the dodgy red-light district of Vesterbro. The no-frills tidy rooms are superb value and the price includes a lavish breakfast buffet which in summer is served on an outdoor terrace.
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