It could be a trick of the soft Scandi light, but everything in Copenhagen seems blessed with good looks. Immaculate royal palaces have dodged the ravages of time, while modern pieces of architecture are daring to the extreme. The accommodation is no exception either, with many of the city’s best hotels much more than just somewhere to sleep. Bringing the past bang up to date, recent openings include a converted Carlsberg malt house and a century-old post office. Newer builds are equally head-turning — if only because of the remarkably affordable rates. Defying Copenhagen’s pricey reputation, a new raft of fun, quirky hostels has popped up in the past few years, too, from stackable cabins to indoor tents. There’s also been a shift towards more sustainable stays, with efficient, water-saving shower systems, vegan menus and eco materials all part of the city’s drive to become carbon-neutral by 2025.
Best for nostalgia
Bright, brash and irresistibly different, one of the city’s most iconic properties has kept visitors spellbound for more than a century. A Moorish-style palace illuminated by thousands of bulbs, Nimb blends perfectly into the fantasy fairground of Tivoli Gardens. Originally opened as a restaurant in 1909, it’s always been a family business and the focus on fine food remains strong. Thirty-eight suites are divided between the original building and a modern wing; older rooms have fireplaces, bathtubs and quirky artefacts, while later additions benefit from a vast terrace. Indulge in afternoon teas served beneath glittering chandeliers, or spring forward several decades in the high-tech wellness centre, kitted out with a wave-simulator in the pool and a hypoxic chamber for cross-fit training sessions. Rooms: DKK 2,902 (£332).
Best for style-seekers
Embrace the Danish obsession of hygge at Hotel Sanders, where flames flicker in open fireplaces and shelves are stocked with good books. Owned by a former ballet dancer, the venue attracts a local crowd of creatives, who you’ll find chatting away in the low-lit bar. The 54 rooms range from spacious apartments to compact singles inspired by the train cabins of golden-era travel. Book the property’s private wooden boat for sightseeing tours along Nyhavn canal, with its famous row of coloured houses. Alternatively, borrow a bike to explore the neighbourhood, home to the Royal Theatre and the Royal Danish Opera. Rooms: DKK 2,107 (£241).
Best for theatregoers
Copenhagen’s answer to the West End, fashionable Frederiksberg has a colourful, theatrical past. Since 1958, the Falkoner Center has hosted a roll call of stage greats; look out for posters of Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland hanging from the walls of this 334-room hotel attached to the original venue. Inspired by retro music halls, the bar-lounge at Scandic Falkoner is decorated with vanity lamps and lightbox readographs. Rooms are modern and comfortable, and the top floors command exceptional views. Pretty Frederiksberg Gardens is only a 10-minute walk away. Rooms: DKK 787 (£90).
Best for romantics
Hosting travellers for more than 200 years, the five-star icon Hotel D’Angleterre is the city’s finest address, with crystal chandeliers and marble-floored halls. It’s primed for a period drama, although modern touches — such as a glamorous Michelin-star restaurant, superb spa and indoor pool — mean the 92-room property never feels old fashioned. Book a balcony suite overlooking cobbled Kongens Nytorv square and pack your finest wardrobe to sip cocktails at the high-end bar, Balthazar, which has 160 varieties of Champagne. Rooms: DKK 4,974 (£569).
Best for backpackers
Made of a series of stacked metal boxes, there’s something a little unnerving about CityHub Copenhagen, a space- and money-saving hotel aimed at Generation Y. But thanks to clever lighting, the hotel’s functional two-person hubs are inviting, and there’s also an option to book larger rooms for four. Shared bathrooms are gleaming and immaculately clean, and the art-filled, self-service bar is equipped with workstations and cosy seating. A free app connects guests to local hosts, who can share tips on places to visit in cool Vesterbro. That said, it shouldn’t be too hard to find your own haunts in this former red-light district electrified by a thriving nightlife scene. Rooms: DKK 402 (£46).
Best for urban adventurers
Enjoy the feeling of sleeping in a tent without the risk of bad weather at Urban Camper Hostel, a quirky hostel pitched up in vibrant Nørrebro. Rows of wooden frames have been draped with canvas, each with bunk beds and lockers inside. Choose between four-person dorms, private twins or the option of ‘normal’ rooms with concrete walls. Digital nomads can also book in for longer stays. Although there’s no campfire, a games room with shuffleboard provides a lively communal space. Don’t miss out on the neighbourhood buzz, either: discover late-night kebab shops, arty cafes and cool bars tucked away down side streets. Rooms: DKK 149 (£17), B&B.
Best for beer buffs
Carlsberg has been quenching Danish thirsts since 1847, and southwest of the centre, its original red-brick brewery is undergoing a transformation to become a new neighbourhood of shops and restaurants. Spread across two industrial buildings, Hotel Ottilia is the first hotel to open on site, themed around its beer-brewing bloodline. Inside, wooden wall panels have been reconstructed as benches and old malt hoppers decorate the bar. Check-ins are done in the bar while a mixologist prepares welcome cocktails. Stick around between 5pm and 6pm, when free wine is served. Rooms: DKK 787 (£90).
Best for eco-warriors
The latest opening from the Danish eco chain is one of Copenhagen’s most sustainable hotels. Beds are laid with linen made from non-toxic materials and showers use a system based on NASA technology to reduce water consumption by 50 to 90%. But shrinking waste doesn’t mean compromising on comfort. Styled with bamboo and draped in plush fabrics, rooms have a dreamy, boho feel, while breakfast is an organic extravaganza, with highlights including blueberry salad and homemade yoghurt. The Sole Factory bar and restaurant draws in a local hipster crowd. Rooms: DKK 1,495 (£171), B&B.
9. Steel House
Best for bargain hunters
This slick, streamlined hostel strikes a healthy balance between style and substance. Once home to the Danish Union of Metalworkers, the building clings to its industrial past: bare concrete walls, steel panels and exposed pipework dominate the design. Despite the steely aesthetic, the place is far from austere and service is anything but mechanical. Dorms (including a women-only option) are fitted with space-age pods, while a selection of small doubles and singles suit those seeking privacy. The hostel’s communal spaces include a games room, cinema and buzzy bar. Rooms: DKK 122 (£14).
Published in the March 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Follow us on social media