Let Your Hair Down in Copenhagen

1. Where to Stay

Rooms at the Hotel Fox.Photo: Courtesy Hotel Fox

The Hotel Fox’s wildly eccentric (albeit pint-size) rooms (from $165) are the brainchildren of 21 graphic designers, illustrators, and graffiti artists. (Try Swiss artist Benjamin Güdel’s altar to the alpine princess, Heidi.) There is free wi-fi throughout, stylish Kronan bikes for rent, and a hugely popular lobby lounge and basement eatery.

Though pricier, the Technicolor trappings of Hotel Skt. Petri (from $280), centrally located in the Latin Quarter of Pisserenden, are hard to pass up. Built in 1928 in the Danish Functionalist style, the hotel originally housed a department store. Now it’s filled with 268 modernist rooms dressed with raw-silk settees, colorful headboards, and panoramas of the area’s patinaed spires.

Even more modish are the surroundings at Front (doubles from $260), an eight-month-old harborside hotel near the lively bar and restaurant scene of the Nyhavn Canal. Order a Hemmingway Special (rum, lime, grapes, and maraschino cherries) in the hotel’s bar and take it with you to the hushed reading lounge, decked out with design books and brass-studded loungers.

Architecture buffs almost have to stay in Arne Jacobsen’s 22-story Radisson SAS Royal (from $280). All of the 265 rooms (choose a south-facing one for the best views) are state of the art and cater to business travelers—with the notable exception of room 606, which remains in its original state, complete with all of Jacobsen’s iconic Bauhaus-inspired furniture and fittings.

2. Where to Eat

PaustianPhoto: Courtesy of Paustian

Nab a table close to the open kitchen at Paustian, chef Bo Bech’s immaculate bistro located in a waterside furniture showroom designed by Jørn Utzon (of Sydney Opera House fame). From here, you can peek at Bech preparing the “Alchemist,” a $110 experimental tasting menu, or “Chlorophyll,” the chef’s ode to vegetarian cuisine.

Join the fashionable crowd at French-Oriental Umami, located north of the city center. Sip on a lemongrass-sake cocktail at the voguish martini bar, then indulge in Claus Engelbrecht Hansen’s East-West specialties like rabbit loin stuffed with shiitake mushrooms.

Located in a nineteenth-century warehouse in up-and-coming Christianshavn, Noma serves a medley of exotic Nordic specialties (whale meat, musk ox, sorrel) shipped direct from Danish protectorates Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

If the Danes’ liberal smoking rituals are a turn-off, head to Cofoco, Copenhagen’s first nonsmoking restaurant, where you can sit at a chandelier-lit communal table and feast on inventive Franco-Danish cuisine.

3. What to Do

BrinjaPhoto: Courtesy of Brinja

Skip the touristy big-box stores that line Strøget and head instead to bohemian boutiques like Brinja. Located in the burgeoning Islands Brygge quarter, the shop creates fanciful, mod-sixties-style one-off dresses. YiiP, Christina Julsgaard’s trendy dress shop set amid the stucco villas of the Jarmers Plads neighborhood, features prêt-à-porter collections that combine cool minimalism with graphic prints and bold colors. Cooler still is the Munthe plus Simonsen boutique, where all-noir knitwear, suede jackets, and flowing tops are accessorized by slashings of trimmed fur. It’s a far-cry from Bohemia, perhaps, but a must-stop for any fan of Scandinavian fashion.

4. Insider’s Tip

Ole Jensen’s Familia tea set.Photo: Courtesy of Normann Copenhagen

Not that anyone would pass up a gift from Danish design powerhouses like Georg Jensen, Illums Bolighus, or Bang & Olufsen, but there’s a whole new generation of adventurous designers popping up around the city. Ole Jensen’s striking accessories and household items—like the playful Familia tea set—is just one of the instantly classic items on sale exclusively at Normann Copenhagen in the city center. Equally smart, if not as hard to find, are Eva Solo’s new multihued Florentine vases or, alternatively, its adorable glass teamaker, which comes sheathed in neoprene or colored knitwear.

5. An Oddball Day

ChristianiaPhoto: Courtesy of Greg Emel

To experience Copenhagen’s free-spirited ethos at its purest, head to Christiania—an 85-acre former military base turned hippie colony on the eastern side of the city’s primary waterway, Christianshavn. The community’s 1,000 residents live unencumbered by rent or taxes in a car-free quarter dotted with green spaces and lakes. After peeking into a few of the numerous carpenter and blacksmith shops, stop for a bite at Spiseloppen, where organic dishes like reindeer with gooseberries are served in an airy warehouse. Afterward, hop to Loppen, a down-home bar that hosts nightly jam sessions during the week and a roster of international D.J.’s on weekends. Or just book a guided tour of the commune’s more elusive corners by calling 45-32-57-60-05.

6. Related Links

The city’s artistic underground comes alive at Hifly, which republishes beautifully designed event flyers.

KultuNaut’s English-language Website lists cultural goings-on throughout Denmark.

The Visit Copenhagen site offers hotel- and flight-booking tools as well as features on local attractions.

Get a Danish perspective on the day’s news from the Copenhagen Post.

Let Your Hair Down in Copenhagen