Clean air and water, pristine inner-city parks, immaculate public transport, gender and income equality, and free higher education — no wonder Denmark’s capital was voted the happiest in the world. Or that I jumped at the chance to visit this urban utopia for its annual 3daysofdesign celebration.
3daysofdesign takes place annually in May, showcasing all kinds of local creative forces — artisans, architects, and interior and product designers in all their iterations. It’s only a few years old, but this gathering is already much lauded by those in the know globally and packs a whole lot of punch with such a comprehensive programme. Frankly, it should be a 10-day affair, there’s just so much to take in.
Copenhagen continuously reflects the Danes’ complete commitment to looking after and beautifying their surrounds. Something we could all aspire to, don’t you think? Here’s my guide to its standout spots.
1. THE AUDO
This brand-new hotel is staggeringly beautiful. The uber-chic lobby and concept store consist of vast architectural interior spaces with soft industrial accents, filled with exquisite pieces from famous Danish design brand Menu. Rooms have contemporary barn-like aesthetics and large windows overlooking the city, which allow soft daylight to stream in. From beautiful books, sculptures, and art to iconic furniture pieces — it’s a sensory feast and an exquisite exercise in attention to detail.
Alouette is a sublime new restaurant that recently notched up its first Michelin star. There’s a strong focus on seasonal food and sustainability. It’s not easy to find but is absolutely worth a visit.
3. HAY HOUSE
The designer-furniture store’s new premises are situated in an Italian-style palazzo, where its latest collection blends seamlessly into those beautiful high-ceilinged spaces with grand staircases and large windows.
4. FREDERIKSGADE 1
This large building on Frederiksgade street is a perfect introduction to the world of Danish design, offering a diverse collection of incredible showrooms stylishly stacked into one address. The tenants range from iconic design brands like Finn Juhl and Hans J Wegner to up-and-coming names like Overgaard & Dyrman, &Shufl, and New Works. The outfit was established to create a healthy synergy between design brands and to serve as a window into the world of Danish design and various other creative media.
5. FREDERICIA FURNITURE
I’ve always been a bit of a Børge Mogensen groupie (it’s pronounced Beau Monsen by the way), and a visit to this stronghold of the Scandi designer’s work exceeded all expectations. This Danish design house prides itself on its heritage of unfaltering dedication to the perfection and development of the craft. This is entirely evident across the multiple floors that display a beautifully curated collection of carefully considered and renowned furniture designs.
6. KØBENHAVNS MØBELSNEDKERI
This charming little family of “cabinet makers”, as they prefer to call themselves, are situated in the ultra-cool and gritty Islands Brygge. Their premises are hidden away in a wonderful industrial courtyard of several workshops, a showroom, and factory spaces, among many other hidden treasures.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE:
1. THE KING’S GARDEN
I’m an avid park flopper, especially when travelling. After all, green spaces serve as the perfect respite in-between exploring. In the heart of København (that’s Copenhagen in Danish), you’ll find one such enclave — the King’s Garden. It’s adjacent to the famed Rosenborg Castle, and it being early spring, was all kitted out in new greens and florals. It’s immaculate and a real joy.
2. CANAL CRUISING
My introverted ways tend to steer me towards solitary activities, and a canal tour with a small group of random strangers cooped up in cold, drizzly weather seemed like a bad idea. However, thanks to good weather, I felt inclined to join in the fun. Welcomed by the easygoing Hey Captain crew (onto chic little eight-seater boats), all resistance dissipated. The excursion was casual and non-touristy, with our charming skipper/tour guide sharing his knowledge of the surrounds while we slowly cut through waters and took in the picturesque cityscapes.
3. MUSEUM HOPPING
The Design museum Danmark offers an astonishing collection of iconic furniture and product design pieces displayed in creative ways. It’s very popular, so get there early to avoid the queues. The National Gallery is also worth a visit. It’s an architectural marvel filled with works by masters including Matisse and Picasso, and boasts a selection of modern-art installations. The museum café is a winner — serving up simple, wholesome food such as freshly baked rye bread and cheese with exceptional coffee.
4. GET SHOPPING
Copenhagen is Valhalla for Danish design devotees. My favourite stops included &Tradition, with exquisite pieces beautifully displayed over a few floors and a lovely little café downstairs in a leafy courtyard — ideal for a quick coffee or light lunch.
The Paustian’s brand-new, grand location is a knockout. Located in the heart of the city, it houses a vast collection of iconic local and international design objects and furniture within a palazzo-inspired interior.
Magnum, an extensive department store, is grand when you have limited time and are looking for leading design and lifestyle brands all under one roof, or want to grab a fresh and healthy snack on the go.
I thoroughly enjoyed Frama and its minimal yet exquisite collection, complete with state-of-the-art cabinetry displaying fragrances and skincare products.
PLACES TO STAY AND PLAY:
1. MANON LES SUITES
This brand new, and unusual, hotel is taking the five-star experience to a whole new level. Inspired by Balinese bohemia, it features a huge pool at the centre of a courtyard, covered by a five-storey high skylight, and decorated with tropical plants and traditional Balinese decorations. The rooms all lead out onto this area, which tends to be popular throughout the day and well into the wee hours too — it’s definitely the heart of the house. Rooms are boho-esque and there’s a strong emphasis on sustainability.
2. SKT. PETRI
Not a new hotel, but a recent renovation means a classy, cool, and fresh experience — with exceptional views of Copenhagen. The rooms are well-designed, comfortable, and come with luxurious Frama skincare products as bathroom amenities. Plus, I was able to have breakfast in a secluded, darkish corner within its sleek restaurant rather than the usual crowded and overly bright breakfast experience, which I loathe.
This food market opened about a year ago in one of Copenhagen’s hippest districts and is already one of the city’s most popular playgrounds. It hosts over 50 food stalls across 900m² which offer flavours from all over the world.
4. THE PALM HOUSE
In the heart of the botanical gardens within the Natural History Museum of Denmark, this large greenhouse is inspired by London’s Crystal Palace and was completed in 1874. It overflows with exotic and rare plants from around the world.
5. CAMP ADVENTURE FOREST TOWER
Recently completed and designed by Effekt architects, this 45m-high tower shoots up above the Gisselfeld Klosters forest a few miles out of town. This steel structure consists of a curved hyperboloid form that features an inner spiraled oak ramp. There’s a 360-degree view of the landscape once you reach the top.
1. Buy a Copenhagen Card at the airport. You get transport for 48 hours, free access to 87 tourist attractions, galleries, and museums, and a nifty guidebook.
2. Bike if you’re (very) brave.
3. The city’s official tourism website, Visit Copenhagen is always up to date, with great tips on what to do and where to go.
• From the October edition of Wanted 2019.