Cosy cocktails in cool Copenhagen
Saturday 03 August 2013
Lingering over a complimentary glass of wine at the design-led Ibsens Hotel (Vendersgade 23; 00 45 33 13 19 13; brochner-hotels.dk) in the Nansensgade district, we come to understand the Danish concept of hygge, which lacks a direct English translation but is a sense of communal, cosy atmosphere. Artists and designers from this hip neighbourhood, which proves a perfect base for our hedonistic intentions, have contributed to the furnishings of this impressive three-star hotel. It's the first in the world to accept ArtMoney – an exchange project dreamt up by two Danish artists whereby works created the size of bank notes are accepted as currency.
We have no art to share, but this taste for the city's creativity has made us even keener to explore. We head over to the nearby, buzz-worthy Host (Norre Farimagsgade 41; 00 45 89 93 84 09; cofoco.dk/hoest). Here, we dine – surrounded by palm fronds on rough-hewn wood tables – on a sumptuous three-course menu of new Nordic cuisine, which takes smoking techniques to new levels.
Then it's time to weave our way back to Nansensgade, hopping from bar to café and stopping at Bankerat (00 45 33 93 69 88; bankeraat.dk) at Ahlefeldtsgade 27-29, for casual cocktails and to marvel at the effortless cool of everyone around us.
We finish the night off just across the road from Ibsens at retro-inspired Kalaset (Vendersgade 16; 00 45 33 33 00 35) for Ginger Rogers cocktails (ginger, blood orange, lemon and rum) and vow to return in the daytime after hearing patrons rave about the café's pancakes.
Breakfast at Ibsens is as aesthetically-pleasing as its rooms. The Danes take sandwiches to a new level of artistry, not least in the delicate parcels of rye bread with smoked salmon, pesto and homemade guacamole.
Fortified, we decide to take advantage of the hotel's bike rentals, pedalling our way through the maze of cycle lanes of the Latin Quarter to cross the Inderhavnen (inner harbour) to Copenhagen's proudly autonomous hippy district, Christiania. Here the air is laced with a heady mix of fresh sea air and perhaps other more dubious substances. We explore the free-spirited and idiosyncratic structures of the Staden ("the town", as residents affectionately call it), such as glasshouses and extravagent murals, before heading back to drop off our bikes and scout out lunch.
We're spoilt for choice at the Torvehallerne food market (torvehallernekbh.dk), a sprawling complex of speciality shops, stand-up cafés, fish bars and food trucks. We settle on fresh smorrebrod (traditional open-faced sandwiches), from the Hallernes Smorrebrod stand and a pint of Mikkeller ale, then squeeze on to a sun-soaked picnic table outside to enjoy it.
No visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a trip to Tivoli Gardens, the much-loved amusement park established in 1843. After several rollercoasters, we settle our stomachs with towering ice creams served with jam and whipped cream from the century-old Vaffelbageriet café. From there, we head west to the Vesterbro neighbourhood to check out the Mikkeller beer bar (00 45 33 22 79 97; mikkeller.dk/the-bar) at Viktoriagade 8, which dispenses 20 taps of the eponymous local brew alongside hundreds of other beers.
The afternoon passes in a suds-fuelled flash and we walk to Fiskebaren fish hall (Flasketorvet 100; 00 45 32 15 56 56; fiskebaren.dk), which is set up in the up-and-coming docks of the meat-packing district. As patrons sun themselves on deck chairs, and a DJ blasts techno nearby, we eat delicate fish and chips and an inventive king crab creation, before taking a bus to Nyhavn harbour where we join locals drinking in beer and sunshine on the pavement.
As the sun stretches into late evening, we stumble over to Moltkes Bar (00 45 33 14 80 66; moltkes.com) at Dronningens Tvaergade 2, a classy speakeasy where we try the signature drink, the Copenhagen, a mix of genever, cherry liqueur, lime juice, syrup and Angostura Bitters. Walking back along Tvaergade, there are just too many cocktail bars to choose from, each bursting with life and merriment – hygge is certainly alive and well in Copenhagen.
A Hedonist's Guide to ... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com
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