How do I love Copenhagen? Let me not count the ways, lest I sound like a philistine when it becomes obvious how many of them are food-based…
It might be less incriminating to count the ways our hotel for this visit’s so ideal for access to a large number of the lovable – and alright, often edible – things about Copenhagen. Just a few minutes’ walk from Copenhagen’s Central Station – itself just a 15 minute train journey from the airport – we’re at the Absalon Hotel and checking in within half an hour of breezing through the Danishly-efficient passport control. And even speed of touchdown to unpacking aside, this hotel’s location’s ticking a lot of boxes. A lot of pastry-shaped boxes.
If you totally hypothetically wanted to spend three days burying your face in the best of Copenhagen’s food and drink scene, there could hardly be a better-placed hotel for it. Looking at the hotel from a bird’s eye view, the Absalon’s the grand, neoclassical heart of a web of eateries, coffee shops and bars.
To the west, there’s Vesterbro – the Absalon sits at the edge of the city’s ex-warehouse district. In a Dalston-ish way, those warehouses and industrial spaces have been a magnet for some of the most exciting food and drink businesses, pop-ups and events in Copenhagen – a room at the Absalon means access to nonchalantly brilliant pizzeria Mother Restaurant, elegant organic bistro BOB or the barbeque food and beers at the Warpigs brewery.
Research and guidebooks become far less important when you can just roll out of bed and wander through the backstreets of the neighbourhood in search of food, galleries and junk shops. In the more residential streets off Vesterbrogade, tree-lined and bike-strewn, we stumble on the draft beers at the tiny, renowned Mikeller Bar, and the street seating and champagne-and-chocolates menu at Anker Chokolade.
To the north of the Absalon, there are some compelling reasons to take advantage of the free cycle hire at the hotel – though nothing in Copenhagen’s really beyond walking distance, two of the best street food markets in the city merit a visit by bike. Copenhagen Street Food’s on the further side of Copenhagen from the hotel, justifying the wheel power. And the Torvehallerne covered markets are a lot nearer to the Absalon than Copenhagen Street Food – but the bikes would come in handy when you find yourself loaded down with traditional Danish snegl pastries and sandwiches for a picnic in nearby Ørsteds Park.
But the Absalon caters for healthier pursuits, if that’s your jam. There’s that free cycle borrowing, which you don’t solely have to use to get from snegl pastry to snegl pastry. It might sound unorthodox, but you can take them for rides that don’t involve a single snegl: to Nyhavn Harbour, to catch one of the canal boat tours starting from there, or to the Round Tower for views across the city and a brief pause in the tower’s beautifully-named Kyssebænken – a designated alcove for kissing in… And we’re aware, peripherally, of the Absalon Hotel’s Running Copenhagen partnership: jogging guides will pick you up from the hotel and sprint across the city with you in tow.
I mean, we definitely don’t go on a running tour of Copenhagen, though I feel almost virtuous just for staying in a hotel where that’s an option. But the call of Vesterbro, in all its bar-scattered, good food-laden glory right there on our doorstep, is much too strong.
It’s not just Vesterbro, either. There’re good things happening in every direction from the Absalon. We’re booked in for dinner on our second evening at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl, the beautiful, experimental restaurant in The Danish Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden – a full review of its enormous, high-concept bravado is coming. And the walk there from the Absalon takes us down broad avenues lined with a succession of buildings that more or less explain the existence of the #housegoals hashtag.
In a concession to this not being entirely an unbroken sequence of eating things, we do visit the Danish Design Museum, and the Fotografisk Center, an exhibition space in Vesterbro serving as a photography gallery. We explore Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest operating theme park in the world, we admire ex-apothecarists’-building-turned-cocktail-bar Lidkoeb. And we even leave Copenhagen briefly – taking advantage of the Absalon’s being so near to Central Station, we jump a train to Louisiana, a museum of modern art on the coast where the art’s eclipsed by the gardens, edged by the North Sea.
So with all these attractions waiting the minute you step off hotel property, Absalon has its work cut out for it, trying to give you reasons to stay in. But they’ve risen to the challenge, both in the bedrooms and in the hotel at large. The decor – Designers’ Guild furnishings, with colourful splashes everywhere – will come as a bright, welcome relief to anybody assuming Nordic cool has to come in shades of stark, white minimalism. Even having a bath’s a colourful experience, with a dial to change the lighting across a rainbow spectrum of options. Shower soothingly in the warm glow of peach lighting, or energisingly in a blast of filtered-through-tree-leaves green: not just mood-lighting, but lighting for every mood…
On hand with mood-enhancing touches of a different sort, sister hotel The Andersen across the road serves up free drinks every night during Wine Hour, for guests of both hotels. Throw in the games room at the Absalon, and the modern art, regularly changing, decking the walls of both hotels, and you’ve got, at a minimum, reasons to divide your time between the city outside and the comforts inside. And that’s even more true in the summer, when the Absalon makes a strong bid for most cultural hotel in Copenhagen, with a series of jazz concerts staged in the hotel as part of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival.
Nobody needs a reason to visit Copenhagen – but it’s worth knowing about a hotel that makes your visit feel so effortless. We’ve barely broke the surface of everything on offer at the Absalon, but there’s always next time for more of Vesterbro and Wine Hour. Cycle hire and street food. Maybe even – just maybe – a running tour.
And all that jazz.
Rooms at Absalon Hotel start from £130 a night with breakfast, for two guests. Absalon Hotel are hosting five complimentary jazz concerts throughout the Copenhagen Jazz Festival.
The Copenhagen Jazz Festival runs from 7 – 16 July, 2017. For further details and booking visit www.jazz.dk.
Absalon Hotel, Helgolandsgade 15, 1653 København V, Denmark. 0045 33314344. Website. Photos by Absalon Hotel.