Live the Hygge in Copenhagen, Denmark

November 29, 2012 1 comment

It was half-term in London last week and we took a mini family trip to Copenhagen. Our first European escapade since our baby was born 6months ago. It couldn’t have been an easier destination. With holiday season coming up, it’s a perfect time to go because the Danes really have a sense of lighting up their city. Three nights was a bit short but we came back refreshed, full of pretty images in our heads, and looking forward to going back one day.

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First things first, where to sleep?

Well, I struggled to find the right place as few hotels could book us a babysitter! The top-3 family friendly places in my view are: 1/ Skt Petri but it was full. Seems like a great option though given its style, location and comfort. Quite pricey. 2/ Nyhavn 71 is a good address by the canal, in a charming converted warehouse. I worried that all 4 of us would be squeezed in their relatively small rooms. You could book 2 adjacent rooms with kids a bit older. Next time we’ll probably try it. 3/ After much research, we stayed at Hotel Alexandra, which is all about mid-century Danish design. Ours was the Hans Wegner room, really large and beautifully furnished, facing a calm street, but quite basic. Monocle categorizes it as a dependable hotel, which is about right. A lobby visually exciting, central location, decent price in an expensive city but old-fashioned in terms of comfort and service. They did find us a really sweet babysitter called Lene (+45 29607446) whom Marcelo clicked with immediately.

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We started with a boat tour on the canals, an excellent overview of the city’s modern architecture. Departing from Nyhavn, the tour lasted about 1h30, enough to keep Marcelo entertained as we passed under the many bridges, the old sailing boats (waouah the pirates attacked this one?!) and the Little Mermaid (scroll down). You can hop on hop off. That day we had our most delicious meal, at Cap Horn (Nyhavn 21, tel: +4533128504 daily 11:30am-11pm) . The atmosphere was cozy with fireplace and smoked herrings. Then we spent the day discovering the area around Stroget which is THE busy pedestrianized street that runs through the historic heart of the city. There are plenty of shops, Lego of course and the two department stores Illum (a sort of Barney’s) and Magasin du Nord (a bit more like Harrods). Btw, for kids fashion, Denmark has plenty to offer: my favorites are Molo Kids (shop in shop at Magasin du Nord), Katvig, Petit by Sofie Schnoor, Holly’s. Around Stroget, there are lots of cool independent shops such as Hay for home design, fashion at Bruuns Bazaar and Wood Wood. It’s best to slowly wander around, and not miss the streets Krystalgade, Kronprinsensgade and Pilestraede. There’s also a bunch of cute shops on the other side of Stroget, on Kompagnistraede, stop at the children’s store Creme de la Creme a la Edgar, at number 8. It was closed each time we went so call beforehand! (+4533361818). She does her own handknits plus lots of other beautiful things.

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That day, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the top of the Round Tower, the oldest observatory in Europe. Just on time for sunset. It was magic. Marcelo loved running like crazy in the spiral of the tower. And then we all headed back to Hotel Alexandra, exhausted and excited.

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Our second day was about visiting less touristy areas. We headed first to Osterbro, from Little Triangle to Triangle, and then to Frederiksstaden. In Osterbro, it’s lots of pushchairs and kids store so we felt at ease, except for the mean looks from the owner of that brunch place which I won’t mention. Grrr. But while in Osterbro, stop at Normann Copenhagen for all sorts of beautiful objects. I got a nice pair of boiled wool slippers for Marcelo. There’s also the city’s most famous ice cream and pastry store Markus Grigo on Dam Hammerskjolds Alle 40 but with 3degres celsius, we did not scream for ice creams. And pleasant walks along the (artificial) lakes. Funny enough, we found ourselves in a perfectly manicured park where we saw a few parents with strollers… I thought we would end up at a playground until we realized it was a cemetary. Why not I thought.
Second part of the day we checked out some furniture gallery in Frederksstade: Dansk Mobel Kunst has a very select range of vintage pieces. After passing Amalienborg and the Royal Guard, which of course any little boy would love staring at, we headed to  Sankt Annae (+4533125497) for a very traditional Danish lunch. It was packed with locals, so much so that they wouldn’t accept us with the bugaboo. What a pitty. (Beware, many places refused us with the stroller!) So we had a late lunch at the cafe inside the Black Diamond (love the name), which is a fine example of modern Danish architecture. Right by the water’s edge, it was completed in 1999 and is the glass and black-granite extension of the Royal Library. Breathtaking, and even more so when you see it from the canal.
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Friday evening we decided to play it cool and headed the 2 of us to the upcoming Meatpacking district, for a dinner of fish at Fiskebar. It was worth it.

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Last day, we went to the National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst). We were all stunned by the superb glass architecture of the new extension. It’s really worth a visit and there seems to always be interesting temporary exhibitions. There are also kids workshops (3+) every sunday at 10:30am and the entrance is free. What more! But I must say it was hard to choose which museum to select. If we had one more day, for sure we would have headed one-hour north of Copenhagen to Louisiana, supposed to be one of the most beautiful museums of contemporary art in Europe. Next time for sure.

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We finished the w/e with a brunch overlooking the Tivoli Gardens, at the Brasserie of the Nimb Hotel. No luck for us, Tivoli was closed due to renovations, so it’s worth checking the dates before buying plane tickets..but it will re-open Nov. 9th for the holiday season, with a thousand chinese lanterns. It’s an amusement park that dates back to 1843 with a hall of mirrors, a Chinese pagoda and all sorts of retro things.

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BozTips: Here are some readings to get you going.

Daily Candy Denmark’s the Spot. NY Times’s 36 hours in Copenhagen (I always google the ny times 36 hours articles before i take a trip somewhere). Monocle has a one-page useful info on Copenhagen. And The Guardian recently had an article on the city’s hot new neighborhood, the meatpacking district.

Also, I want to recommend 2 excellent purchases for Amalya’s trip (6months): Sack ‘n seat, as seen on BabyccinoBlog (love it! both the sack and the blog!) and her Finger in the Nose down baby warmer which kept her cozy at naptimes no matter how cold it was.

Last but not least, as soon as you have your plane tickets, make sure to book a dinner at Noma without the kids!!!! Supposedly “one of the 3 best restaurants in the world’ (don’t ask which ones are the other 2), the chef has trained at El Bulli and everyone kept on asking us, “Did you get a table at Noma”. The answer is No. but for sure we’ll be back, if only for Noma, Tivoli Gardens and Louisiana!!

Here is a summary of the Little Mermaid story, from Hans Christian Andersen: She was a sea king’s daughter and gave up her heavenly voice in exchange for a woman’s body in order to win the heart of the prince she loved. Unable to speak, she had to stand by while her beloved prince married another woman, and died. Hmm…not your usual happy ending.

And by the way, Hygge simply means, the Danish art of living.

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