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Native Intelligence: Traveling to Copenhagen

Our favorite hotels, restaurants and shops in Copenhagen.
By Sari Lehrer


strøget, copenhagen strogen in copenhagen Stroget, Copenhagen's pedestrian thoroughfare.

Copenhagen Opera House

copenhagen opera house, pictures of copenhagen the copenhagen opera house The facade of the Copenhagen Opera House, known as the Operaen.

Custom House Copenhagen

custom house, copenhagen restaurants the custom house in copenhagen, home to three restaurants The Custom House, home to three restaurants.

Klassik Moderne Mobelkunst

stores in copenhagen, shopping in copenhagen, pictures of copenhagen klassik moderne mobelkunst in copenhagen Klassik Moderne Mobelkunst, a shop specializing in the golden age of Danish furniture.

Noma Copenhagen

restaurants in copenhagen, pictures of copenhagen parfait of pickedled elder flower at noma in copenhagen Parfait of pickled elder flower, violet ice cream, rose-hip meringue and thyme gel at Noma.

Normann Copenhagen

shopping in copenhagen, pictures of copenhagen the normann copenhagen flagship store Cutting-edge housewares at the Normann Copenhagen flagship store.

Nyhavn Copenhagen

nyhavn, copenhagen, pictures of copenhagen a block in the nyhavn neighborhood of copenhagen A block in the Nyhavn neighborhood of Copenhagen

Nyhavn Canal Copenhagen

pictures of copenhagen, nyhavn canal wooden boats docked on the nyhavn canal Wooden boats docked on the Nyhavn canal.

Radisson SAS Copenhagen

copenhagen hotels the arne jacobson room at the radisson sas royal hotel in copenhagen No. 606, a.k.a. the Arne Jacobsen Room, at the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel.

Thomas Schlosser

shopping in copenhagen, thomas schlosser thomas schlosser Thomas Schlosser, the owner of Klassik Moderne Mobelkunst, in Copenhagen.
photo credit

Click here to read out feature article about traveling to Copenhagen.

When calling the telephone numbers below from the United States, except for those that are toll-free, first dial 011-45.

When to go

Few places in the world offer the picturesque summers you'll find in Copenhagen. From May through August, temperatures hover in the mid-60s to low 70s, and daylight lasts up to fifteen hours on average. Fall and spring are relatively mild, if sometimes gray. Winter, however, can be brutal, with dark days of wind and icy rain.

Getting around

Bicycles are plentiful and available across the city free of charge. Just insert a twenty-krone piece (about four dollars) in the handlebar to release the lock; when you return the bike, you get the coin back. Taxicabs are ubiquitous too, and almost all drivers accept credit cards. The metro system is safe, expansive and easy to navigate.

Where to stay

As a kind of experimental global-design project, the Hotel Fox enlisted a select roster of twenty-two international artists to dream up and decorate its sixty-one rooms. A smorgasbord of styles, from Japanese anime to monastic austerity, make this the hippest hotel in town. Double rooms from $295. 3 Jarmers Plads; 3395-7755;

For something more sedate but equally chic, try the First Hotel Skt. Petri. Danish artist Per Arnoldi is responsible for the interiors, whose calming blend of blond wood and beige upholstery is enlivened by primary colors. The hotel is well situated — it's just a short walk to the shopping street StrØget — and has great vistas from many of its 268 rooms; request a balcony for a panoramic view of the city's prettiest medieval streets. Double rooms from $465. 22 Krystalgade; 3345-9100;

Granted, there may be newer, shinier hotels, but none can compete with the legendary 260-room Radisson SAS Royal Hotel. Architect Arne Jacobsen's pièce de résistance is chock-full of his Swan and Egg chairs; even the cutlery in the top-floor restaurant, Alberto K, was created by the master himself. Ask to see Room 606, which has been kept exactly as Jacobsen originally imagined it and is still appealing after all these years. Its one flaw is the hospital-like bathroom, which, according to general manager Stine Linde, prompted Sir Terence Conran to remark on a recent visit, "At least Jacobsen didn't get everything exactly right." Double rooms from $340. 1 Hammerichsgade; 800-333-3333;

Where to eat

Once a hovercraft terminal, the Custom House was reinvented as a harbor-front dining bazaar. Three unique restaurants--Bacino, Ebisu and the Bar & Grill — plus two bars share this thrilling space. 44 Havnegade; 3331-0130;

At chef Henrik Yde-Anderson's Kiin Kiin, Thai food is given white-glove service courtesy of a six-course tasting menu that would surely do Miss Wong, Yde-Anderson's cooking teacher in Bangkok, proud. For a faster bite, try A Roii, Kiin Kiin's attached take-out shop, at the same address. 21 Guldbergsgade; 3535-7555;

Foodies all over know Kong Hans Kaelder (King Hans Cellar) as a gastronomic palace. It's located in the oldest building in Copenhagen, which dates from medieval times; the Gothic ambiance is matched by the drama of its dishes, like the goose-leg confit with foie gras and the oysters from Marenne-Oléron. 6 Vingaardsstræde; 3311-6868;

The plain wood tables and exposed brick walls would have been enough to make me fall in love with Noma. Then I tasted René Redzepi's food: razor clams with a dusting of horseradish, warm bread smothered in rendered bacon fat with pistachios. 93 Strandgade; 3296-3297;

For many travelers, it's the near endless daylight that calls them to Copenhagen in the summer; for gourmets, it's the Paul, the Tivoli Gardens' Michelin-starred contemporary Danish commissary. Closed October through March, this glass-enclosed, greenhouse-style building, designed by Poul Henningsen, is surely the most alluring concession on Earth. 3 Vesterbrogade; 3375-0775;

To reach Spiseloppen, the second-floor, 160-seat warehouse restaurant in Christiania, you have to climb stairs adorned with decades' worth of graffiti. (Ignore the harmless teenage pot smokers clustered on the landing.) What you'll discover inside is far from gritty: candlelit tables, wood-beamed ceilings and a wide-ranging menu. 43 Badmansstræde; 3257-9558.

Salty, sour, bitter, sweet...Umami. The Japanese name of the recently discovered fifth taste ("deliciousness") is also the name of the trendiest new restaurant in Copenhagen. Exotic cocktails and sake are the perfect complement to ginger-poached duck breast and panko-crusted fried scallops with jalapeños. The futuristic space is stunning and surreal; Stanley Kubrick would have felt right at home. 59 Store Kongensgade; 3338-7500;

What to do

Given its dynamic calendar, breathtaking location and state-of-the-art acoustics, it's hard to understand how the Copenhagen Opera House, or Operaen, could have been perceived by the Danes as controversial; to me it seemed strictly amazing. The operas range from classics, like Tosca, to new works by Elvis Costello; the Royal Danish Theatre, Royal Danish Orchestra and Royal Danish Ballet share the space too. Really, what's not to like? 10 Ekvipagemestervej; 3369-6933;

Daniel Libeskind's Danish Jewish Museum honors 324 years of Jewish history in what was once King Christian IV's boathouse. Inscribed on the doors is the word "mitzvah" (Hebrew for "good deed"); according to Libeskind, the museum's design is meant to celebrate the Jewish-Danish alliance over the centuries, particularly during World War II. Closed Monday. 6 Proviantpassagen; 3311-2218;

To reach the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, twenty-two miles north of the city proper, take the train from the central station toward Elsinore and get off at Humlebæk. Among recent exhibitions were works by Lucian Freud and Richard Avedon; the architecture and landscape are large draws as well. You need only stroll around the sculpture garden to know the answer to Hamlet's perennial question: to be, no doubt, to be. Closed Monday. 13 Gammel Strandvej, Humlebæk; 4919-0719;

The Royal Library earned the nickname Black Diamond for its granite and glass extension, designed by the Danish architecture firm Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen. Besides books, the waterfront building holds a concert hall and the National Museum of Photography, but the Batcave-like façade is the real draw.1 Soren Kierkegaards Plads; 3347-4747;

More than 150 years after Tivoli Gardens was built, this 20.5-acre amusement park, smack-dab in the center of town, endures as Copenhagen's foremost attraction, offering a mix of highbrow and lowbrow diversions, including gourmet restaurants, lush gardens and merry-go-round rides. It's open mid-April through September, and Halloween and Christmas weeks. 3 Vesterbrogade; 3315-1001;

Where to shop

Birger Christensen is renowned as Denmark's leading furrier, and for good reason. All the manufacturing, from the design to the cutting and sewing of its exquisite pieces, is executed under one roof. The company has been run by a single family since its inception, in 1869; today the stock includes such luxury brands as Prada and Lanvin. 38 Ostergade; 3311-5555;

For years I've been asking my husband for the same birthday gift: a particular bicycle that I know will turn me into Audrey Hepburn. Now that I've seen the bikes at Cykelmageren, I'm revising my request. I now covet one of the elegant and handcrafted bicycles designed by Rasmus Gjesing; they're more like works of art wrought from painted steel and buttery saddle leather. 57 Store Kongensgade; 3311-1211;

If minimalism prevails when it comes to Scandinavian furniture, Hay CPH is the exception that proves the rule: imagine tropical sorbet shades, tactile textures and shapes that are rounded and harmonious. Owner Rolf Hay's eye is spot-on: he was the first to carry Louise Campbell's wool-felt Prince chair. 1Havnen; 9942-4400;

It would take a very strong-willed person to leave Illums Bolighus empty-handed. This four-story shop sells every kind of Scandinavian furnishing a luxury-loving decor obsessive could desire: Jens Jensen candlesticks, Kay Bojesen flatware, Piet Hein lighting fixtures. 10 Amagertorv; 3314-1941;

Founded in 1991, Klassik Moderne MØbelkunst can take a great deal of credit for today's renewed interest in the golden age of Danish design (the period immediately following World War II). Owner Thomas Schlosser buys and sells vintage furniture and art from the likes of Arne Jacobsen and Finn Juhl. Prices are steep, but its stock is unparalleled. 3 Bredgade; 3333-9060;

A worldly boutique, Lot #29 carries the kinds of pieces jet-setters might pick up on their travels, like Etro and Missoni, as well as a private cashmere sweater line. 29 Gothersgade; 3314-1429;

Normann Copenhagen is not just a jaw-dropping showcase for the best in contemporary housewares, right down to its bright and clever Butterfly can opener. It's also an event space for some of the city's hippest happenings, like the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards pre-party. 70Osterbrogade; 3555-4459;

JØrn Utzon, the Danish architect behind the soaring, shiplike Sydney Opera House, designed Paustian, a furniture shop so well curated, it feels like a gallery. While taking in all this beauty, you may work up an appetite, which explains why there's a restaurant here too. 2 KalkbrænderilØbskaj; 3916-6565;

Click here to read out feature article about traveling to Copenhagen.



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