In Hungry Concierge, we travel the world to spot hotels that operate with their guests’ food and drink needs squarely in mind — hotels, both big and small, that are located in neighborhoods rich with bar and restaurant options. Because there’s nothing worse than having your trip derailed by crummy room service.
Copenhagen has developed a reputation for being a spendy city to visit. The good news is, you can absolutely have a rewarding and belly-busting experience without going broke. Simply mind the tried-and-true tenet of real estate (location, location, location), and you’ll see why Absalon Hotel is a no-brainer for food-minded travelers seeking something a little less, well, obvious — and more affordable.
Located in the Vesterbro neighborhood, also home to the infamous red light district, Hotel Absalon feels worlds away from Copenhagen’s posher districts (like Frederiksberg) with its grittier and grungier (yet totally hip) vibe. It may initially appear a bit un-Danish, especially for the first-time visitor with visions of pretty streets neatly lined with colorful row houses, but Karen Nedergaard, the general manager and granddaughter of the original owners, is proud of the property’s slightly offbeat address: “We’re in a neighborhood that still has an edge and some personality. This is definitely not a boring residential area.”
The hotel was originally founded in 1938 and underwent a spiffy top-to-bottom renovation last year. Now, Hotel Absalon makes a striking impression with its surprising and very liberal use of bright, bold colors. From the moment you walk in, you’re greeted with jewel tones of chartreuse, turquoise, and emerald at the front desk and reception area. “The Danes’ favorite colors are black and white,” says Nedergaard, “but we wanted the hotel to be colorful and warm, because it gets so dark and cold here in the winter.”
Also important to the renovated hotel? Providing guests with a sense of hygge, which can be loosely translated to “coziness.” Though I couldn’t quite figure out the “comforter” on my bed – it barely covered my rear or feet, and I’m barely five foot three – the plush carpeting, heated bathroom floor, Philippe Starck–designed sink and toilet, and organic Karmameju toiletries upped the warm, homey factor. As did the complementary breakfast buffet, which provides a terrific opportunity to casually mingle with other guests. More than the standard spread of coffee and bread, the breakfast also offers up cold cuts, pâté, assorted cheeses and, of course, pickled herring and excellent danishes. Complimentary fast wireless — a necessity for those of us whose phone plans don’t include international coverage — keeps you connected to your loved ones. And forget about using taxis. Cruise around Copenhagen like a local: on bikes, which the hotel lends to guests.
The 161 rooms and suites are minimally appointed in true Scandinavian fashion — my room had a bed, two armchairs, three lamps, and a modest desk — but the accents of color lighten and brighten the overall look and feel (without going over the top). On top of that, all rooms are categorized by nature-inspired color themes: grass (green, fuchsia and black), ocean (blue, silver and gold) and berry (purple, plum and silver).
Nedergaard’s goal was to create a property truly unique to Copenhagen, “a niche product to stand out and appeal to international guests, yet still have a Danish sensibility,” she says. With that in mind, she enlisted the help of the award-winning English Designers Guild to refresh the hotel with vibrant, yet thoughtful pops of color while letting the original architecture of the historic building shine through.
The best part of staying at Hotel Absalon is that it’s within easy walking distance of loads of delicious and affordable eating. Central Hotel & Cafe is the city’s tiniest hotel, boasting just one room and an adorably snug café to match. It’s tough to imagine a more picturesque place to start your day. Nibble on pristine sushi and seafood while taking in sky-high views of the city at Sticks ’n’ Sushi, located on the top floor of the Tivoli Hotel. (The salmon carpaccio, with slabs of buttery fish, chives, roe and miso aioli, is a must.) Located in a former butcher shop, Les Trois Cochons is a low-key, candlelit brasserie where stylish locals linger over bottles of wine and a set three-course menu of French-inspired shared plates. Opened in 2014, the boisterous late-night hot spot Foderbraettet pairs champagne with wildly creative hot dogs, like the boar frank smothered with pumpkin chutney, mushroom mayo, and fried beets. (The thick, panko-crusted onion rings are spot on, too.)
The nearby Meatpacking District — imagine a cluster of former meat-processing facilities converted into trendy restaurants and bars — might be the most dynamic dining destination in the city. Among the restaurants you can’t miss are Nose2tail, a cozy basement den dedicated to all things meaty, from the top-selling house pork rinds (enormous fried puffs of crackly skin with bacon mayo) to chateaubriand made from organic, free-range Danish beef. Feeling homesick? Then drop by Tommi’s Burger Joint, which specializes in cheap but dependable burgers and fries. And last but not least, a trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without a pit stop at the infamous Isted Grill. A Chinese/Danish greasy spoon that’s been around since the 1980s, its claim to fame is the flæskesteg sandwich, an irresistible combination of crispy pork, pickled red cabbage and cucumbers, mayo and soft white bread. As you can probably imagine, it’s even more heavenly after a few drinks.
Helgolandsgade 15, 1653 København
Rooms start at $150 per night