CREATIVE HUBS: COPENHAGEN
London has grunge; Paris will always have chic; and Copenhagen now has hygge. The word roughly translates to ‘cosiness’, and in its essence, means enjoying life’s simple pleasures – a piece of cake, time with family, an oversized jumper. Meik Wiking – an author and happiness expert – believes that hygge is the reason Denmark has been named the world’s happiest country by the UN.
It’s not hard to find hygge in Copenhagen. Whether you’re strolling the length of the colourful Nyhavn harbour, riding a bike through the cobbled city centre, or wandering around Tivoli Gardens, the Danish capital is full of low-key beauty that will stop you in your tracks.
But there’s more than just pleasing aesthetics here: with supporting entrepreneurship high on the government’s agenda, Denmark is one of the best countries for business in the world. Copenhagen itself it an important hub for early-stage startups, and there’s a good sense of community. A foundation called #CPHFTW (Copenhagen For The Win) supports and promotes the local ecosystem across sectors including tech, gaming, design and social entrepreneurship. We’re willing to bet that their offices are all super-slick…
Danish design is synonymous with functionality, good workmanship and high quality material. Visit Designer Zoo in Vesterbro to catch a glimpse of the range of Danish arts and crafts; or make your way to The Apartment, a restored eighteenth-century flat that showcases a selection of pre-loved and new furniture. And don’t forget to bring back a stylish raincoat (yes, that’s a thing!) from the rising outerwear label, Rains.
Then there’s the food. Copenhagen is the home of the New Nordic movement, hosting a number of high-end restaurants with Michelin stars (most famously Noma). But the scene also has a more low-key side – think hot-dog stands, burger bars and, of course, Danish pastries. It’s about enjoying the simple things, right?
WHERE TO STAY
Located next to the Royal Opera Theatre and with a Danish royal ballet dancer at the helm, it’s no surprise that Hotel Sanders is a lesson in lyricism. The 1869 townhouse features a palette of muted olive and creams offset by playful textures and touches – think velvet cushions, leather chairs and Liberty wallpaper.
This recently renovated 89-bedroom hotel has green tiles, turquoise ceilings and mosaic-effect carpets (aka a welcome relief from all those Scandi-style clean lines and icey colours). The rooftop here is bedecked with plants and has 360-degree views of the city – spot the DJ come summer.
Located in the on-trend neighbourhood of Vesterbro, this New-York-style ‘luxury hostel’ is a budget option in a city that’s not known for being kind on the purse. There are single and double rooms, as well as four- and six-person dorms. Everyone gathers in the lounge, private cinema and pool.
WHAT TO SEE
No stay in Copenhagen is complete without a visit to this gallery in Humlebaek. Aware of the fact that it pays to give art room to breathe, curators have set the permanent collection in glass-walled rooms that overlook Køge Bay. Wile away an afternoon walking the sculpture park, which features works by Henry Moore and Joan Miró.
The Royal Library, or ‘the Black Diamond’ as it is known for its shape, commands Copenhagen’s waterside landscape. It’s home to four floors of books, a photography museum, and an excellent café that makes it a hotspot for architectural tourists and students alike.
Founded in 1971, Christiania was once a hippie-run commune with rules that existed independent of the Danish government. Today, a walk around the jumble of makeshift houses, art galleries, music venues and cheap vegetarian eateries all huddled together in a lakeside setting is like stepping back in time.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
At BioMio, the organic experience begins with the wait staff’s fair-trade cotton uniforms and ends with the hoards of trendy young Danes gathered around ecologically logged oak tables. Menu indecision is kept at bay (sort of) with the help of mood-based keys: “Winter Ease”; “After Shopping Relief”; “Libido Booster”.
In a minimalist urban setting dominated by a hypnotic cylindrical jellyfish tank, this restaurant spins out seafood dishes such as brown butter–baked North Sea hake and Danish potatoes. Several of the chefs made their name over at Noma before moving to this harbourside location.
Located in Kødbyen, Copenhagen’s trendy Meatpacking district, this bar plays an eclectic mix of music ranging from electro to reggae and even the occasional country tune. Don’t even think about ordering anything remotely complicated drinks-wise – a message scrawled across the back wall leaves no illusions: “This is not a f***ing cocktail bar”.