When they renovated the Ibsens hotel in Copenhagen the bit they didn’t change was the iconic red neon Hotel sign and that just about sums it up; a little bit retro, a lot of modern design, a smattering of vintage and a big part of the neighbourhood.
The neighbourhood in question is Nansensgarde, just a stone’s throw from the string of Copenhagen lakes that are more like a broad river and a 5 minute walk from the Norreport station. A few blocks away you’ll find the Botanic Garden and Rosenborg castle and then there’s the enclosed park where you can buy local food in the market halls nearby and have a picnic by the lake. The street of Nansensgarde itself is narrow with lots of little artisan shops, cafes and restaurants – mostly with a quirky, individual feel such as the coffee bar on the corner just opposite, where you descend a few steps to find a haven of kitsch.
Right next to the hotel you have a couple of eateries that are associated with the hotel, but not quite part of it – La Rocca, an elegant Italian with white tablecloths and the more relaxed Pinxtos on the other side where they serve the Basque equivalent of Tapas. We didn’t eat in either of these, although they looked great, as my dearly beloved had spotted a little place that served Moules and Chips just down the road and so that’s where we went on one of our Copenhagen nights. After our bike + train excursion to the Karen Blixen Museum and a whirl around the Tivoli gardens, we were ready for simple, homely fare. We had 500 Swedish Krona in cash which doesn’t go far in Copenhagen, I can tell you, but we managed to have a slap up meal in the restaurant called Nice (and it was).
Anyhow, back to the 3 star, boutique style Ibsens Hotel where we spent 3 nights when we visited Copenhagen in the spring. Enter the door on the corner of the street and you’ll meet the counter which is part reception desk and part coffee bar where breakfast is served in the morning. Past the wooden painted tables and red leather banquettes where there are small bits of artwork for sale (apparently you can use Art-money) and you can sink into the comfy purple velvet sofa or a lime wool wing chair by the fire.
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The neighbourhood concept extends to the way that bits and pieces from neighbourhood shops and artisans have been incorporated in the design. The brightly coloured textiles of local designer Krestine Kjærholm have been used to cover the chairs, with a vintage wood and glass coffee table from the auction house Lauritz.com and you can put a record on the gramophone from Würtz Radio along the road.
If the weather’s fine you could sit in the internal courtyard out the back, or have an impromptu meeting in the library where you’ll find a classical bust and plenty of travel guides from Jess Jessen’s second hand bookshop nearby. Right by reception there’s a graffiti coloured metal cupboard, customised by artist Sunny Asemota, in case you need to leave your valuables when you go out and you’ll be given a room key on a leather fob by The Last Bag, who make classic leather satchels and have a local shop.
We took the lift to our 6th floor room overlooking the street at the front down a grey corridor that seemed permanently bathed in twilight and into our room under the eves which was decorated in battleship grey. The grey was lifted with bright and acid tones like the lime green chair by the window but there was only the small dormer window to let in light.
The room was compact and reminded me of a rather upmarket student hostel – especially the white tiled bathroom which had a shower that drained into the floor and a steel soap dispenser but no other giveaways in the way of toiletries. When you understand that the Ibsens hotel and the others in this family run group, aim to be CO2 neutral, some of these things start to make sense.
We arrived after dark but even when we awoke there was not a lot of light – with the main lighting being from two small bedside lamps and a desk lamp, the overall effect was pretty dark. There wasn’t room for a proper wardrobe but instead there was an area beside the bed where you could hang your clothes and the beds are designed so that you can fit your cases underneath them. Although the side street to the front was not especially busy with traffic, we found that the noise travelled up to roof level and there clatter of what sounded like building works, that woke us up early.
The next day we asked to be moved to a room at the back of the hotel, overlooking the internal courtyard which was much quieter. The room was slightly bigger than the last, but with even less lighting – a desk in the alcove had no light above it at all and the main lighting was a standing lamp beside the bed. The rooms were modern and perfectly comfortable with cosy duvets and bedcovers and we slept well, but I’d say that the room was best used as a base to come back to at the end of a long day’s sightseeing.
Descending from the twilight world upstairs, the breakfast was much more jolly, with a choice of all sorts of interesting leaf teas and coffee. There was a selection of pastries, a variety of small sandwiches laid out with delicious bread and healthy fillings, and then ‘breakfast in a glass’ with glasses of fruit compote, yogurts and muesli laid out on ice. It was all served on incongruous plastic trays that looked as if they’d been liberated from a student canteen – no doubt to reduce the amount of plates and cutlery that would have to be washed up as part of the CO2 reduction initiative.
We rented bikes at the hotel which made it really easy to go from the nearest station of Norregard and jump on the train to head out along the coast route to see the Karen Blixen House at Rungsted and then we cycled back along the coast road with glimpses of the sea between the lovely holiday houses.
We really enjoyed using the Ibsens Hotel as our base for our long weekend in Copenhagen and especially the way they have brought the neighbourhood into the design and the really tasty breakfasts. The rooms were comfortable and modern, if on the compact side, but perhaps needed a little bit more attention to detail in things such as lighting to improve the guest experience. Downstairs we were very happy to relax on those comfy sofas and wing chairs, put on a record and flick through a magazine or two.
We stayed as a guest of Ibsens Hotel and Wonderful Copenhagen but a quick check on the web showed me that rooms at Ibsens Hotelwill typically cost from £100 per night including breakfast for 2 sharing – if you book on a room only basis, the breakfast will cost 155DKK (£17) per person. As Copenhagen is known for being a somewhat expensive city, I think the hotel is excellent value.
More stories from Copenhagen
Resources for visiting Copenhagen
- You’ll find plenty of information about places to eat and things to see on the Visit Copenhagen website
- There is a free Visit Copenhagen Mobile phone app available for iPhone, Android and other smartphones
- If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing then check out the Copenhagen Card for free entry to 65 museums and attractions as well as free public transport around the city
Thanks to Wonderful Copenhagen for sponsoring our weekend in Copenhagen.
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