Kokkedal Castle has been open as a hotel since 2011, offering refurbished rooms, a golf course and a vaulted downstairs dining room. // © 2014 Peter Norby and Tim Wahlfrie
Feature image (above): The luxurious Copenhagen Admiral Hotel is housed in a converted dockside warehouse. // © 2014 Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
Copenhagen is on a roll, with New Nordic cuisine taking the spotlight and a number of new boutique hotels springing up while some of the old standbys get a major overhaul. Here is a highly selective list of where to eat and where to stay in Denmark’s capital city.
WHERE TO EAT
Noma, which has been named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine three times running, tops the list of hot spots for foodies. Warning: It’s hard to get a reservation, but it’s worth the wait. Chef Rene Redzepi harvests fresh herbs, veggies and flowers from the countryside for his signature dishes, which might include salmon and seaweed from Iceland or langoustines from the Faroe Islands.
Not to be outdone, although with an entirely different feeling, is Restaurant Geist, a trendy, glass- and metal-eatery that often sees local celebs bellied up to the marble-stone bar. The chef, Bo Bech, is a risk-taker, often changing the menu at the last minute. That makes for some hits and misses, but mostly hits. The vanilla ice cream with black olives and English licorice is worth a return visit.
The national dish of Denmark is smorrebrod, three small slices of bread piled high with meat, fish, pate, veggies or any combination thereof. Visitors can get it at almost any food stall or cafe, but I first tasted it at Restaurant Kronborg, a lovely Danish restaurant on Brolaeggerstraede. The paintings of old ships on the walls recall the days when Denmark was a major seafaring nation.
If you have a hankering for pizza, the place to go is Mother. No, it’s not about anyone’s mom; it’s about the mother dough from which the pizza base is made, which supposedly leads to less bloating. The restaurant is usually packed, and there are no reservations after 10 p.m.
When I think of Tivoli, Copenhagen’s centrally-located amusement park, I think of rides, cotton candy and the like. That’s all there, but there are also some first-class restaurants, including the Michelin-starred The Paul and the new Kahler in Tivoli, which boasts a fine collection of Kahler ceramics (some of which are for sale). It makes for a relaxing evening after a long day riding roller coasters.
One thing I like to do in Copenhagen is settle down in one of the city’s coffee shops and watch the bicycle traffic go by — it seems like almost everyone rides a bike in this city.
WHERE TO STAY
Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
I got the feeling I was on a ship when I stayed at the Copenhagen Admiral Hotel. The hotel’s nautical motif is seen in the wooden crossbeams in the rooms and the main areas. But make no mistake: This is a luxury hotel, with all the amenities. It is located within a converted 18th-century dockside warehouse. One of my favorite rooms was a mini-duplex, where you reach the loft bed by way of a ladder — just like on a ship.
Hotel d’Angleterre is the grande dame of Copenhagen hotels, with a guest list that has included Grace Kelly, Ronald Reagan and Steven Spielberg. It reopened in 2013 after a massive, top-to-bottom renovation, but it hasn’t lost any of its traditional charm. The hotel is often called the “White Lady,” and its 60 suites and 30 standard rooms now include Wi-Fi connectivity, flat-screen televisions and silk wallpaper.
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Copenhagen
If you are a fan of Danish design, you will love the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Copenhagen, located a block away from the central train station. It was designed by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, who oversaw everything from the architecture to the doorknobs and silverware. Jacobsen's famous Egg chairs are now only in the lobby, but room 606 has been kept as it was in the 1960s when Jacobsen actually lived there.
Kokkedal Castle Copenhagen
On the way back from Helsingor (also known as Elsinore), I stayed at Kokkedal Castle Copenhagen, located about 30 miles north of Copenhagen. It’s not so much a castle but a manor house that has been completely refurbished.
Kokkedal is next to a golf course, and guests can sit in the Library Bar and Lounge at tea time and gaze out over endless fields of green to the shoreline. The food in the vaulted downstairs dining room is superb, and just to keep in touch with its past, the owners have preserved the moat.