Word of Mouth: Copenhagen
Word of Mouth: Copenhagen
The Danish capital's alluring culinary, architectural, creative and cultural treasures
by Nicolas Stecher
Located on the Danish islands Zealand and Amager, the country's capital Copenhagen is ever-changing. While it garners attention for its culinary scene, it's also host to a kind of renaissance in its fashion, coffeehouse, art and architecture scenes. The Danish concept of "hygge"—a general notion of coziness, and extracting warm pleasures from the nooks of life’s tiny moments—has long been a way of life in the small Scandinavian country. No city better embodies the ethos than Copenhagen. It can be found in fireplace-lit cocktail lounges, glass-walled modern architecture, and even in the details and cuts of its apparel.
When it comes to nightlife, Copenhagen’s “small village” sensibility is most apparent. Here, the cozy bars and tucked away lounges are more appealing than many brash pubs. Spend your night walking around the central district and poke your head into small speakeasies where they put as much work into their cocktails as Danish restaurants invest into their culinary delights. We saw Copenhagen on Ducati’s newest model in their Scrambler sub-brand, the easy-to-ride Café Racer, riding over the cobblestones to discover the city.
There is a good reason why the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is the most visited museum in all of Denmark. Its exhibitions are second to none, but its littoral location makes it one of the most beautiful museums you are ever to visit. The glass-walled museum is part mid-century modern masterpiece, part world-class museum, and part walking sculpture garden.
Rasmus Kofoed’s Geranium has three Michelin stars, but that's not why it feels so special. The view, the décor, the atmosphere are all impressive, but the sense of impending magnificence is immediate. Every dish is a concept in taste, distilled into a wonderful creation. Even if you don’t like long meals, you will find that four hours have passed effortlessly—great dining refuses to be rushed. Geranium is not a last-minute compulsion; you must book your table a year in advance (or be well-connected in Copenhagen).
At a young age, architect Bjarke Ingels has captured the world’s attention—thanks to buildings like NYC's VIA 57 West building on the Hudson and 2 World Trade Center, Silicon Valley's Google HQ and more. In Copenhagen's Ørestad, you will find three of Ingels' most famous and compelling structures: the Mountain Dwelling, the VM Houses, and 8 Tallet. The 8 Tallet (or the 8 House) features two courtyards surrounded by an undulating “8” of apartments, all connected via a walking path. Made to modernize the concept of the Danish courtyard, it acts as a self-contained community where the denizens are all connected—physically and socially.
Located next to the Royal Palace and St. Alban’s Church, the Toldboden Harbor plaza doubles as a parking lot for the superbly curated bodega Løgismose—widely considered the best deli in all the land. Overflowing with immaculately presented game, charcuterie, breads and wine both locally sourced and imported from culinary capitals across Europe, it's a must. They even boast their own cheese master who lives in Normandy, obtaining the finest Camembert and Pont l’Evêque from the source. Even if you're not looking to stock up on pounds of cheese, make sure to try some of the free samples.
Right next door, the eponymous Toldboden does for coffee, beer and cocktails what Løgismose does for ham and sausages. The name means “customs house," as the ancient brick building used to act as the taxing center for all ships entering Copenhagen Harbor. In summer, the terrace becomes a hotspot for locals to drink beading pints of Tuborg as they watch the boats slip across the Øresund, and on weekends the churrasco brunch reigns supreme. For a special treat, show up on any Tuesday and you will be surrounded by an incredible menagerie of rare vintage vehicles at their “Classic Car” get-together. While enjoying brunch on one of Toldboden’s outdoor communal tables, peer out over the sound at the massive form that is Amager Bakke. This is the best spot to consider what is conceptually Bjarke Ingels’ most impressive building, which also happens to be the biggest and tallest building in Copenhagen.
When you go to Ruby for the first time, make sure you bring or thoroughly memorize the address, otherwise you won’t find it. Hidden in a beautiful residential building on the canals of central Copenhagen, Ruby is that secret gem for people who enjoy truly handcrafted cocktails. Like many Scandinavian bars, the place feels more like a well-cultured friend’s flat than a commercial entity. The drinks menu is amazing, but we recommend putting your fate in the hands of the bartender, who will not disappoint.
If you get the itch to explore deeper into the evening, you will do no better than Chateau Motel—possibly the hottest nightclub in Copenhagen. Even though there’s always a line, be patient—you will get in, and the doorman will be startlingly polite. Previously a notorious gay bar called Pan, Chateau Motel is the type of nightclub that is so ebullient that even jaded night owls will find themselves thoroughly amused. The place is a labyrinth of staircases and small rooms, each with its own dedicated sound system. If you have any inkling to stay up until 5AM, this is the spot.
First two images by Nicolas Stecher, all others courtesy of respective venues