I was recently in Copenhagen on a research trip, it was my second time in the city and I had the opportunity to go to a couple of places just outside the centre that I especially wanted to visit. One of these was Finn Juhl's house, which is currently closed, I didn't check beforehand! Don't make the same mistake as me.
Copenhagen is a beautiful city with vast areas of water weaving through it all, historical Danish architecture contrasts with some very modern structures such as the Silo designed by Danish architects COBE and of course some of the best shops showcasing impeccably designed Scandinavian homewares.
The city is set up for cyclists, with wide cycle lanes being separate from the road. I'm not a confident cyclist at all but felt very safe cycling around the city and it's definitely the best way to get around, explore areas and truly see everything.
I documented some of my favourite places below ranging from the hotel we stayed, restaurants, places to visit and brands to see.
A five-minute walk from the Central station. The hotel, which has been featured by GQ is dedicated to the city’s iconic design, with original furniture by Arne Jacobsen, Hans J Wegner and Borge Mogensen in the rooms. The hotel is relaxed and simple, the retro feeling of it is a refreshing change from Scandi minimalism that's ubiquitous across the city. I recommend staying on the 2nd floor as the rooms have the beautiful wooden herringbone flooring. The staff are wonderfully friendly and offer complimentary glasses of wine in the foyer in the evening, great for a nightcap when you get in from dinner.
A cult classic. Anyone who works in interiors, design or just loves a modern Scandinavian aesthetic knows HAY. The store is over two floors and showcases most, if not all of their product categories, including kitchenware, furniture and upholstery and what most people have a little bit of, their stationary. The space is light and airy, with large windows everywhere looking onto the main square with the stork fountain.
Bolia is a Danish brand most well known for their customizable upholstery but they offer well designed, sustainably made high-quality homewares. They collaborate with high profile designers so everything has a premium, cool aesthetic. I first came across this brand when I was in Berlin last year and saw the sofa of my dreams in burnt ochre velvet.
The largest and most well-known homewares department store in the city. Showcasing the best of Scandinavian design such as Carl Hansen & Son, & Tradition and Fredericia, along with younger contemporary brands we all know and love like Ferm Living and Normann Copenhagen. I would say this is the Selfridges equivalent for homewares with a touch of the Conran Shop. An inspiring space that offers the best of design.
The best dinner I have ever had in Copenhagen. Just divine. The restaurant is located inside Tivoli, the second oldest amusement park in the world. You need to pay for entry to Tivoli additional so bear this in mind. We sat down while it was still light inside a large greenhouse with plants everywhere, rattan detail chairs and a roaring log burner. As it got darker, there were candles and string lights lighting up the greenhouse creating a beautifully ambient environment with all the lights and rides in the amusement park visible outside a small distance away.
The food is contemporary, packed full of interesting flavour combinations, beautiful and thoughtfully presented in a creative way, without being pretentious.
After dinner, we continued our drinks outside in the seating areas which had a fire pits in the middle. Blankets were provided along with sticks and marshmallows to toast on the open fire. Heavenly, I still dream about it to this day.
Mad & Kaffe
In my opinion, the best place for breakfast and brunch in Copenhagen. Located in the Meatpacking district, this popular cafe offers small dishes, which you can buy in numbers of 3, 5 and 7, think of it as breakfast tapas. My favourite dishes are the Danish bread, scrambled eggs with champignons and chives, the non-dairy yoghurt with toasted nut and fruit compote and the sliced avocado with chilli and toasted almonds. The best time to arrive is 8:30 AM, where you can still get a good table and it's just getting busy, by 9 AM there are queues out the door. The coffee is good and served out of Bloomingville cups and mugs, I would recommend getting one of their nice fruit juices too.
Another place for breakfast and brunch, located in the city centre. The menu is small and considered with Danish dishes getting a contemporary spin such as the yoghurt with honey-soaked courgette, matcha and granola or traditional alternatives such as a boiled egg with cheese and rye bread, with the danishes and pastries taking pride of place on the countertop. They are very purist with their coffee and don't offer any non-dairy alternatives. While I was there Hay had there Kitchen Market pop up there. And just to pre-warn you, they don't have a toilet there.
Architecture is a particular passion of mine and when I first saw an image of this imposing church, I thought it was breathtaking and I needed to see it. It's a synthesis of architectural styles merging brutalist, expressionist and even touches of gothic with the dramatic verticle frontage which leads your eye directly to the sky. Made from around 5 million bricks, the interior is as dramatic as the exterior but has a softer feel with the columns and vaulting, though still made out of brick has some rounded forms with the verticle lines leading you to look up at the sheer height of the building. It makes me think of a dystopian future or the film 'Metropolis' and I especially loved the seating for the congregation, typically Danish looking string chairs similar to the Carl Hansen & Son 'Wishbone' chair.
The palace has a tall tower where you can go up to the observation deck and see panoramic views across all directions of the city. On clear days you can see buildings in Malmo. It is free to go up and there are also lifts up to the viewing platform, you just need to go through a light security check similar to an airport.
If you cycle to Nordhavn, the harbour area of Copenhagen there are some great examples of modern architecture such as the 'Silo' designed by Danish architects COBE. The exterior is made up of perforated metal panels creating an angular cubist appearance. It looks like it could from a science fiction film and photographs amazingly from any angle. Directly next to the 'Silo' is a tall, modern carpark with an exterior of red, rusted metal. If you are fit enough to climb all the stairs to the rooftop there is a large seating area with swings and mini trampolines, a great place to chill out and look out of the views of the harbour and sea.
If you cycle to Nordhavn to see the Silo, play on the swings on the rather cool carpark rooftop on the building next door grab a coffee here. The interior is minimal with Nordic touches of wooden furniture but what I recommend is grabbing a coffee and sitting a few yards away on the waterfront.
Photography by Laurie Holford
Written by Daniel Hubbard