Absalon is a hotel which fits seamlessly into its surroundings. Like the Vesterbro district where it is found, its best characteristic is its quirky style
Copenhagen is a city which can easily slip under your radar, especially with its famous neighbors, like Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and London all nearby. Skipping it however, would be a mistake. It has a lot going for it including a rich history reflected in its architecture, an exciting culinary scene and welcoming population. Denmark regularly ranks near the top of lists which measure the happiest countries on the planet, and Copenhagen does the same when it comes to the world’s most livable cities. They must be doing something right, and that alone makes it worth a look!
There is one part of the city in particular which attracts attention. Just outside the city center, Vesterbro is the trendiest part of town. Again, this is another example of how underrated the Danish capital is. Last year Lonely Planet named Vesterbro as one of the top 10 coolest neighborhoods in the world, so the word trendy here means much more than just a few pieces of street art and some nightclubs.
Like all the best suburbs of this kind, Vesterbro was traditionally one of the seedier parts of town. Recently it has undergone a resurgence, and now designers, restaurateurs and artists all add color to its streets. What’s more, it is easily walkable and packed with great restaurants and bars. At night it comes alive as Copenhagen’s young people come out to party, and the city’s culturally diverse population is well represented in its shops and bars. Conveniently located in the middle of all this is the Absalon Hotel, which was where we would be staying during our stop in Copenhagen.
The first thing we noticed when we walked in was just how bright the hotel is. I don’t mean that it was decked out with obnoxious lighting, instead I am talking in terms of colors and vibrant design. On the outside Absalon is a white painted grand building that matches those surrounding it. It looks stately and historic. On the inside it is a riot of modern and quirky blues, yellows and greens. Everything from the furniture to the wallpaper was brought from the English Design Guild, whose products have been used in top hotels, restaurants and offices across Europe – including Google’s European head office and Aqua restaurant at the top of London’s Shard. This gave all the common areas a trendy feel which matched the atmosphere of the neighborhood. It was a classy and comfortable brand of trendiness, rather than a grungy one.
Our room was much the same, and perhaps even better. The dominant color was white, but the curtains, pillows, chairs and lamps were playfully bold shades of hot pink and green. The tops of the walls sloped inwards to meet the ceiling, and perhaps my favorite touch were the wooden beams which helped hold the arrangement up. We had gone for one of the corner suites, and in a word it was perfect. To begin with the essentials, it was very spacious and the bed was extremely comfortable. We also had three large windows which flooded the room with natural light by day and gave us a magic view of the city’s lights by night.
The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant but it does provide guests with a delicious breakfast. We would start our mornings with a wonderful buffet of fruit, bread and various other healthy bits and pieces. They also have a bar which does offer a light snack menu. These can be enjoyed with one of their excellent cocktails, wines or beers. The bar is a great space to spend time thanks again to its interior design, and it opens up onto an outside courtyard. On top of this, Absalon offers a variety of handy little services such as a currency exchange, a laundry, and a bike rental.
Most of our time was spent out and about discovering what Copenhagen has to offer. We had no real preconceptions, so our stay was filled with pleasant surprises. Vesterbro’s lively streets kept us entertained, thanks to the abundance of shops, galleries and great restaurants that line its streets. If you make it there, War Pigs is a great place to visit. This smokehouse and brewery is within walking distance and was created by the guys behind Mikkeller and Three Floyds. The craft beer is excellent, and the tempting smell of its BBQ can be picked up a mile away.
Istedgade is Vesterbro’s main artery and the street with the most amenities. It one end of it you will also find Copenhagen’s China Town which makes for an interesting stop. The area is also home to Tivoli Gardens – one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Walt Disney was said to be a fan of its rides and mock-palaces, so it seems likely that this helped inspire Disneyland.
The rest of the city is all within easy reach, and the central station is only five minutes walk away from Absalon’s doors. Copenhagen’s old town has plenty of historic architecture, as well as a castle and the royal palace. There are also lots of museums, waterways and grand parks dotted throughout the city. There are even a few beaches if you are brave enough to take a dip in the Baltic Sea! For a uniquely Danish experience, visit Christiania – a self-governing ‘free-town’ which operates like a commune. For those looking for an adventure, Sweden is just a short hop over the Øresund Bridge and can even be seen from some of Copenhagen’s higher buildings.
Vesterbro - and Copenhagen as a whole - turned out to be everything those in the know had been saying. It had a fun and relaxed atmosphere, and plenty of things to see where we were there. Absalon also proved to be a great place to call home during our stay, and made the trip all the more enjoyable. If you’re looking for a hotel that has that boutique charm, professional service, a creative design and a convenient location, then Absalon will tick all your boxes.
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