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Short stay: Absalon Hotel, Vesterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Absalon Hotel is just a three minute walk from Copenhagen Central Station in the upcoming Vesterbro district. It is a great base for seeing Copenhagen and beyond. Vesterbro, a haven for foodies and lovers of quirky boutiques and design stores, is steaming ahead with classy gentrification. But the Absalon’s recent sophisticated revamp has edged it clear of the neighbours in the style stakes. A beautiful white neo-classical 19th century building was always going to provide an elegant competitive edge. Owned by the same family since it’s 1931 inauguration as an 11 room hotel, familial care and love are very evident throughout. The welcome A classic blue-eyed, Scandi-smile welcome. There’s generosity too. We are given free admission to the neighbouring Tivoli gardens for one evening and a 100 Danish Krone voucher to spend in the Absalon’s bar. And there is Danish efficient functionalism too. Form-filling is stripped down to bare essentials. Within minutes we have our keys and directions to the room. The rooms Trisha Guild OBE, London Designer, was hired to mastermind the recent revamp. Up on the quiet 5th floor there’s a plush comfort to the thick-piled rich grey carpet, easy on both eye and feet. On one feature wall there is a silver sheen to the merest hint of a floral pattern on the decadent wallpaper. It contrasts with the vivid greens and purples that dominant curtains and cushions: statement soft-furnishings. Three colourful sharp focus close-up prints of glossy plant-life complete the green theme. Other rooms focus on blues and purples. With an entrance hall serving as cloakroom/ kitchenette /wardrobe / dressing room there is space to spread out as you prepare to devote your days to exploring Denmark’s capital city. The bathroom The Philippe Starck-designed marble bathroom is a vision of white hygienic cleanliness. So a chromatographic circle of colour, the control panel for you to choose the lighting’s hue, stands out. That control panel is almost a-burst-of-colour-art-installation in the white textural collage of flannels, tissues and towels. There are two sets of dispensers for organic Karmameju products and their aromas of lavender / frankincense / yarrow. Be aware that the power-shower is a force of nature. The facilities Continental breakfast is available from 6.30am, though by the time the spread of breads, cheeses, fruits, meats and yogurts is cleared away at 11.00am it is as much a social event as breakfast. Throughout the day, the bar draws in locals who spill out into a courtyard protected by sails from summer sun. No restaurant but plenty of good places to eat locally, particularly at Uformel. As the cool, edgy younger brother of Michelin-starred Formel B, the restaurant throws away the rule book and adds cosmopolitan flair to the purity of Nordic cuisine: Danish beef tartar comes with the intense flavours of sun-dried tomato. You can opt for tasting menus or select a la carte. The Sommelier’s recommendations for the tasting menus were superb, particularly an Alsace dry white to accompany the pickled mackerel starter and a bubbly French Rose for dessert. The location As it is just a 12 minute train ride from Copenhagen airport to Copenhagen Central and then a three minute walk you can be your room in the Absalon within 20 minutes. From the station you can take trains to The Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde, Hamlet’s Castle at Helsingør or even a day trip to Malmo in Sweden. It’s around an eight minute walk to Nyhavn, the iconic canal inlet of traditional coloured houses and  rigged wooden ships. Other nice touches Concept Green encourages you to decline housekeeping and receive a gift instead: hand soap / nuts / a day’s bike hire or a 100 Danish Krone voucher to spend in the bar. Everyday, across the road at the sister hotel, The Andersen Hotel, there is a Wine Hour, with complimentary wine available from 5pm to 6pm. If you book direct with the hotel, Concept 24 allows you to keep your room for 24 hours from the moment you check-in. For example, if you check-in at 3.30 pm you can check out at 3.29 pm the next day. Cost Rooms, with breakfast, begin from £135. Book direct with the hotel to receive a 100 Danish Krone bar voucher and the privilege of Concept 24. The best bit Not only is Denmark happy, always in the running for top spot in the Global Happiness League, but the Absalon staff is lygge (happy) too. The hotel won first place for the “Best Place to Work” in Denmark in 2018, for small businesses, and came third in Europe overall. No surprise that the staff is smiling and very happy to help. The final verdict Stunningly quiet at night, almost silent, for a hotel so centrally located. Trisha Guild’s soft-furnishings bring colour, comfort, depth and texture to the Absalon Hotel in a city where design can, at times, be a little too functional and minimalistic. Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by the Absalon Hotel and Uformel.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. If you stay at this hotel then you are in a really good position for seeing most of the city’s sights. The only problem with Copenhagen is that it is expensive. Although it is a lot of money to pay out to get the Copenhagen Card it does include loads of transport – buses, boats, underground trains etc. Also the card gets you into something like 80 odd attractions. With this hotel and the card you could knock off a lot of Copenhagen without getting too exhausted or running out of money.

    1. Just be careful with the Copenhagen Card. You need to
      check websites for days when museums close. The Copenhagen Card book doesn’t give all the details you need. Plan your day and check websites.

  2. The Absalon is obviously taking conservation seriously. Both 100 Krone to spend in the bar and a day’s bike hire are good gifts. From what I can remember Copenhagen is really bike friendly with wide cycle lanes and plenty of bike racks.

    But is it economic and what happens if a load of people want housekeeping one day and then everybody declines it in the next? Though I suppose you’ve always got people checking out and those rooms need making up.

    Good ideas and brave of them to try it.

    1. Don’t underestimate the nuts! They are top quality chocolate coated nuts. Also it is quite a large hand soap, the same brand as is used in the hotel’s bathrooms.

  3. Good to hear that you can find a quiet base in Copenhagen. Some nights it can get lively in the city and if you’ve been travelling or have had a busy day the last thing you want is a load of people partying down on the streets below.

  4. I thought that Copenhagen would be an ideal destination for a weekend break. I flew on Friday afternoon and returned Sunday evening feeling very frustrated. A weekend just isn’t enough there is just so much to do. The post mentions getting out of Copenhagen to Helsingør and Rosskilde but I just didn’t have the time. Another mistake that I made was staying up by the Cruise port so I wasted time sat on the 26 bus getting to the heart of things. I’ve learnt my lessons, next time I’ll stay at the Absalon for 5 nights, turn down housekeeping and get a free bike for the days.

    1. It is well worth getting to Rosskilde for the Viking Ship Museum. On paper the remains of a 1,000 year old ship isn’t over exciting but the place is so hands on. You can saw timbers and smelt iron and even roar a Viking Ship on the sea. Just a three minute walk from the hotel to the station for the train too.

  5. Having just returned from Sweden where the people were smiling beautifully whilst they relaxed in the sun, I tend to support the League Table data that the Nordics are among the happiest people in the world. Certainly there was no evidence of the Swedes looking stressed. As the Absalon’s staff work in such a good environment I would imagine that they are exceptionally happy.

    However, my problem comes with understanding why the Scandinavians are so happy. Is it because there is less of a gap between rich and poor? Or is it because they have a more developed sense of social responsibility? Also their welfare systems generally provide a far more effective safety net than many other countries. Quite simply do they have less to worry about?

    Answers on a postcard please to A Luxury Travel Blog.

    1. Switching back to Denmark, “The Year of Loving Danishly” is a very entertaining read on what makes the Danes tick. It is a while ago since I read the book but what I remember most about it is that the Danes seem much better at the work-life balance than many other countries. Then, with out those extra hours wasted at work, they use that time, to get out and socialise. They like to belong to clubs. I think this helps them to see the bigger picture and put things into context.

      I also agree with the point about there being less of a social divide. The social classes tend to mix more and the Danes don’t have this ridiculous envy of people living in bigger houses and driving better cars.

  6. What beautiful interiors the rooms have, you can tell they have the touch of a professional designer. I imagine you’d feel very welcome and comfortable at this hotel, and it’s a brilliant location, too. The Concept Green initiative is certainly interesting. I’ve never come across anything like that being offered anywhere before. I’d decline housekeeping every day and go for the voucher to spend in the bar I think! For a place that’s so well maintained and of good quality, I found the price for a room with breakfast far more reasonable than I’d anticipated. I would definitely consider staying here if ever I visit the area, it sounds like a wonderful stay!

  7. I have been to the Absalon Hotel many times already and I always admired not just the place but also its history. It was opened in 1939 with only a few rooms available and it flourished into what it is today because of the hardwork and dedication of the family who owns it. The hotel is very cozy and the staff is very welcoming as well. There are also a lot of restaurants and bars around the hotel that offers scrumptious meals and delicious drinks. If you want to make your vacation in Copenhagen worthwhile, make sure to visit the museums and attractions near the hotel too.

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