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Food, fashion and fine art: an insider’s guide to Copenhagen

Port of Copenhagen

Discover the designer hotspots and hygge hangouts where the style set will be chilling out, Scandi-style, during Copenhagen Fashion Week (take note: they’re best explored on a bicycle). By KATE WILLS

Lifestyle

Be it furniture or foraged food, Denmark has always been known for its impeccable design credentials, making a visit to its capital city of Copenhagen as stylish as city breaks come. In recent years, the bi-annual Copenhagen Fashion Week, now in its 15th year, has also put Danish designers, from Ganni to Stine Goya, on the map, cementing the city’s place on the global fashion stage. So here are the cool Copenhagen hangouts you really need to know about…

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GREAT DANE
Housed in a grand neoclassical building that used to be the Danish Academy of Music, Nobis Hotel Copenhagen is filled with typically Scandi design features, from soothing palettes and minimalist furniture to parquet flooring and a marble bar

The design hotel

Housed in a grand neoclassical building (formerly the Danish Academy of Music), Nobis Hotel Copenhagen is all clean lines, high ceilings and natural light. Here, 75 spacious rooms and suites have soothing palettes, with parquet floors and black iron-frame four-poster beds, while the bathrooms are full of marble and Byredo toiletries. Although its location – right by Central Station and opposite the vintage Tivoli funfair – means that most places in the city are walkable, the hotel also has a fleet of bright red bicycles reserved for guests who want to see the city on two wheels instead. The Marble Bar is a must-visit, if only for its signature cocktails, such as Beeting Up The Sour – an earthy mix of beetroot-infused whisky, crème de cassis and lemon.

The double act

Frederik and Sophie Bille Brahe might just be the best-connected siblings in Copenhagen. He’s the culinary superstar – married to Danish model Caroline Brasch Nielsen – with three successful food haunts under his belt so far: Café Atelier September, a longstanding, fashionable favorite; Apollo Bar & Kantine, the chic café at art gallery Kunsthal Charlottenborg; and Kafeteria at the National Gallery of Denmark. Meanwhile, his sister Sophie has a successful fine-jewelry line, which is also stocked in his restaurants.

The interiors hotspot

Danish design and furniture house Paustian has unveiled a beautiful concept store in the heart of Copenhagen, which is carved out of a cavernous old bank (vaults included). The designs here are mainly Nordic, although you’ll find a smattering of international pieces, too.

The local favorite

La Banchina is a cozy 16-seater restaurant on the harbor in Refshaleøen, which takes hygge to new heights. In the summer, it’s a popular spot to sit outside and dip your feet in the water while you watch the sun set. Come winter, there’s a wood-fired barrel sauna for a pre-prandial session – and if you’re feeling brave, you can copy the locals by jumping into the water afterwards to really get the blood pumping. The ever-changing menu is farm-to-table Nordic fare, with an emphasis on vegetables, sustainable seafood and biodynamic wine.

The ideal neighborhood

The Østerbro district is leading the way for urban trends like green roofs, alfresco exercise spots, ubiquitous vegetarianism and sustainable building methods – climate neutrality is the ambition, after all. Book a table at rooftop gem Gro Spiseri, which offers roof-garden-to-plate dishes and natural wines all year round in (and out of) its greenhouse. Or head to new bakery on the block Juno, where the delicious cardamom rolls and Danish pastries more than justify the long queues.

DESIGNER DREAM
Paustian’s concept store offers some of the very best in Danish and international design, all shown off to perfection in a magnificent, vaulted former bank
ART AND SOUL
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is Denmark’s leading cultural institution, housing an incredible collection of works by Giacometti, Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Olafur Eliasson and David Hockney, while its picturesque location, superb architecture and magnificent views are worth the trip alone

The day trip

Take the train 25 minutes up the coast and explore the extensive works at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. This gallery and sculpture garden is Denmark’s leading cultural institution, with a collection that includes Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Olafur Eliasson, David Hockney and Alberto Giacometti. Its picturesque location and panoramic views over the Sound and across to Sweden are worth the trip alone. Make time to browse the museum’s shop, which is a brilliant place to pick up quirky souvenirs such as handmade ceramics and makeup bags made from vintage fabrics.

The foodie destination

For more than 100 years, Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District (Kødbyen in Vesterbro) was a neglected area of butchers’ shops and vast meat halls. Now the white concrete buildings are considered a masterpiece of functionalist architecture, full of buzzing bars and restaurants. Don’t be fooled by the sign that says ‘Meat and Bacon Market’, because Kødbyens Fiskebar also has the best seafood in town, while Paté Paté (housed in an old paté factory) serves delicious Danish tapas, including burrata with roasted peach and Sobrasada sausage. Currently getting Copenhageners excited are the steamed buns at Kiin Kiin Bao Bao, the offspring of Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Kiin Kiin in nearby Nørrebro.

A TASTE OF DENMARK
As well as serving up a fine selection of beautifully presented Nordic food, Copenhagen’s Høst restaurant has won several design awards for its Scandi-chic interior

The special restaurant

For artful new-Nordic cuisine (without a Noma-sized bill), head to Høst, where dishes are served on piles of stones or beds of pine leaves and the plates adorned with sprigs of herbs and wildflowers. Its Scandi-chic interior has won several design awards: furniture is raw and formed from reclaimed wood, granite, concrete and zinc, while plaid blankets and lambskins bring the snug factor. A monthly set menu means you can savor three courses for 355 DKK, or, for a more thorough epicurean experience, opt for the full taster menu with a wine pairing – it features lobster with fennel and lemon, and beef tenderloin with morels and truffle (900 DKK).

The sexy sandwich

The life mission of chef and restaurateur Adam Aamann has been to elevate the smørrebrød – Denmark’s traditional open sandwich – deconstructing and revamping it as more of a ‘couture’ snack. Ideally, it should be consumed in his downtown restaurant, Aamanns 1921, which reveres all that is seasonal, organic and local. If you want to go upmarket, order the degustation menu.

The coolest street

If you exit the verdant idyll that is Assistens cemetery – where Hans Christian Andersen is buried – on Jægersborggade, you’ll find one of the most impressive independent shopping streets in the city, celebrating the kooky and the beautiful. FlacoDesign, which designs sculptural lampshades inspired by the Fibonacci sequence, is joined by many other worthwhile pop-ins. These include a tiny caramel factory, a funky stationery store, Michelin-starred restaurant Relæ and its intimate wine-bar outpost Manfreds, and Tante Tot, a knitwear store so gorgeous that it makes you want to procreate just to buy one of the baby sweaters.

CULTURE CLUB
Since opening its doors in 2018, the Copenhagen Contemporary has revitalized the post-industrial district of Refshaleøen. Housed in a derelict welding factory, it is filled with vast, experimental installations by artists such as Carsten Höller and Jacob Dahlgren

The cultural happening

The sensational Copenhagen Contemporary, which opened in 2018, has revitalized the rusty post-industrial district of Refshaleøen, taking over a derelict, hangar-like welding factory. It has undergone an architectural conversion and is now filled with vast, experimental installations by artists such as Carsten Höller and Jacob Dahlgren. Around the corner, in the warmer months you can join hipsters for lunch at Reffen, a constellation of shipping containers that have been repurposed for a street-food market: Moroccan salads and polenta snacks compete with dosa and gyros stalls. Exceedingly low waste, Reffen is where you can satisfy your cravings while being virtuous at the same time.

The romantic hotel

The Hotel Sanders, tucked behind the Royal Danish Theatre, has the air of a majestic stage set. This could be explained by the fact that owner and creator Alexander Kølpin was a ballet dancer. The staff are charming, while the interiors – by British team Lind + Almond – are curated to embody style and coziness. Full of flowers, foliage and low-lit lamps, the Sanders has a fairylight-illuminated courtyard, a roof terrace and street seating out on the cobbles (with reindeer hides available to keep away those Danish chills). The bar oozes happy hygge vibes and gets quite lively at night, and the little brasserie serves the most tantalizing breakfasts of frittatas and waffles.