They don’t really do glamour in Copenhagen.
They don’t do show-off luxury or Selling Sunset sexiness or designer labels or flash cars. They do stylish, of course. And design-led and intelligent and beautiful. But oh-my-god glamour is something new, which is why Villa Copenhagen, a recently-opened super-hotel, has been such a smash-hit success.
It’s every hotel’s dream to inspire the locals as well as visitors, and Villa Copenhagen has done it in style and scale: try and get a table in Kontrast, the on-site restaurant on a Friday and… well, let’s just say there’ll be a wait as stylish, design-led and intelligent Copenhagers (that word may be made up, by the way) have beaten a path here since the place first opened post-lockdown.
For all its newness, Villa Copenhagen manages to feel like it’s always been there. Based in the old main postal headquarters (you know how grand municipal buildings used to be back in the 19th century?), just across the road from Central Station (which means your trip from Terminal to hotel lobby takes 20 minutes, if you drag your feet), it’s an instant landmark. And the main part of that landmark status is down to what they’re calling The Courtyard.
Step in off the street, maybe through the little design shop they’ve set up selling gorgeous things that will make your life pop, and you’re immediately in a huge, well, courtyard that has been glassed in by a massive British Museum/King’s Cross station-style latticed dome. And that means a light-drenched expanse of sofas and chairs and bars dotted with outsize and very important Scandinavian art from the owner’s own collection. Oh and look down the little glass well in the middle and you can see them making your dinner.
Up in the rooms, you can feel that they didn’t want to go silly glamorous. Just glamorous enough. The design is impeccable with on-trend touches of brass and velvet, a white-on-white-on-beige palette but with woods and marbles, unvarnished herringbone parquet flooring, mid-century-modern-inspired furniture, the odd sculptural plant… It’s a style they’re calling ‘conscious luxury’ and sustainability is high on their list of priorities.
Take that lovely stretch of swimming pool out there overlooking the street. ‘How can you justify a heated pool in a sustainable hotel?’ asked someone who didn’t know what they were talking about. You put it over the heating system so it’s warmed up by what would otherwise have been wasted, that’s how. And if you build a nice bar next to it for excellent pool parties that everyone can see as they walk by on their way to the world-famous Tivoli gardens next door or world-beating restaurant Nimb just down the street, then so be it.
Downstairs on a Friday night – it’s the week of Copenhagen’s cancelled Pride but they’re pushing ahead with a full programme of LGBT nights with DJs playing in a booth that was once a balcony before the glassing in – the joint is jumping. The Courtyard is full of parties having cocktails, flipping through the art books lying around or getting ready to go into dinner, just there, next to the bar.
The restaurant, Kontrast, is also on a ‘conscious’ tip, even though it is its own thing and not just a hotel restaurant. Zero food waste, locally sourced ingredients, sustainable suppliers, you know the sort of thing. The vibe is clubby, pubby even with leather booths and sit-up-at bars with their own little table lamps, while the menu skids between Southern Europe and North Africa. And it’s packed with couples, huge groups of friends, a family with a baby, some fashion gays who can’t sit still… so don’t imagine if you’re staying in the hotel you won’t need to book because you most certainly will.
Outside is a terrace for pre-/post-drinks or fag breaks, a space looking over railway tracks (they’re actually building a New York-style High Line here, which the hotel will open onto) with a very contemporary rusted steel wall and steps down into a lower terrace next to Public, where they lay out buffet breakfast in the morning.
All this glamour – Copenhagen glamour – in the middle of everything. We walked everywhere: to al fresco (and fairly al frisko) LGBT+ bar Oscar ten minutes away, the whole old town, right on your doorstep with the funfair rides of Tivoli Gardens actually visible from your room and museums next door. Or go further afield ten minutes down to the waterfront then along the quirky boardwalk (take your swimmers as there are bathing spots), over the bridge to the lawless city-within-a-city Christiania, where the air is thick with the smell of dope. You can take it further, walking along the canal to number-one-restaurant-in-the-world Noma and beyond to the food village of Reffen, a huge collection of street food outlets with a little beach and fire pit to eat and drink around. And don’t even worry about getting back to Villa Copenhagen: you can jump on a water taxi taking you past the famous Mermaid (too small for us to notice), and along the zhuzhed-up harbour waterfront that is now a playground for modern architecture and those who suck it all up, taking in the Copenhagen Opera House and the Royal Danish Playhouse.
And if you wanted to just stay in Villa Copenhagen and never go out, no one would blame you. It’s a glamorous thing to do: stay in a hotel and never leave. In fact, if Villa Copenhagen is the future of glamour – ‘conscious glamour’ – we might just stay for good.