(Real) Guide To Copenhagen

Text and photo by Ronnie Rocket

Recently, international newspapers and magazines have been writing about the wonderful in Copenhagen. The Danish capital as the most liveable city and everybody from Oprah Winfrey to Monocle Magazine have been praising the city again and again.

Today, the Wall Street Journal published a full page guide to the city. However, I don’t think the journalist was there recently. He just put together some well known facts from the last 20 years in a misleading article, that do not do Copenhagen justice.

But even worse, if you follow the guide you will get the totally wrong idea about the place.

Most of the recommendations in the guide are of places that were popular 20 years ago or don’t even exist anymore!

“One of the major business districts is Christianshavn”

Few people would regard the cosey neighbourhood of Christianshavn as a business district. It does house the local headquarters of the Nordea Bank (designed by architect Henning Larsen), but it is most famous for its proud citizens and the alternative freetown Christiania (where business is good, mind you: the business of selling hashis, that is)!

“Five streets in the city center have been merged to create what is said to be the world’s longest pedestrian mall, running between Rådhuspladsen and Kongens Nytorv. Look out for historic buildings, smart department stores, restaurants and pavement cafes, as well as small theatres, galleries and museums.”

Besides the lovely Cafe Europa, Strøget is NOT famous for its restaurants, cafés, theatres, galleries and museums. You have to go elsewhere to find these places. Granted, some of them are in the vicinity of Strøget, but the information in the article is plain wrong. (Actually, besides the new Lagkagehuset bakery, the first 100 meters of Strøget is a disgrace).

“Taxis is the answer for most business trips, particularly if you are not sure where your destination is. ”

What kind of business people read The Wall Street Journal? Old men in wheelchairs? Getting around in Copenhagen is very easy by foot or using public transportation. The real recommendation for a serious guide would be to rent-a-bike, though. Copenhagen has more bicycles than China. When in Rome…

“Best Hotel: It may look from the outside like a nondescript urban apartment building but the Radisson Blu Royal hotel is no ordinary high-rise. This building is a prime example of what happened around 45 years ago”

I guess the WSJ readers really are extremely old people. The Royal Hotel is a classic, but recommending it as the best hotel, without mentioning the new five-star Nimb Hotel next door and the three ‘organic’ Hotel Guldsmeden hotels nearby, is just poor journalism. To be honest, Copenhagen does not offer a strong selection of hotels and it is seriously underperforming compared with Stockholm and Berlin when it comes to accommodation.

“If you want the full designer experience, ask for room 606 on the sixth floor, which has been recreated just as Jacobsen intended. Otherwise virtually all the rooms are efficiently furnished and identical.”

There must be a waiting list of 1,000,000 people for this hotel room, since it has been recommended by every Copenhagen guide for the last ten years at least. Actually, the classic Arne Jacobsen-designs have been so overexposed, that any Dane or traveller with an interest in design will sigh deeply with boredom if they see another one of these chairs. The design world needs a break from Arne Jacobsen designs. They will come back in due time.

“Best bar for after-work drinks: Not one but plenty of good bars can be found in the once notorious port area of Nyhavn.”

Sadly, Nyhavn is what you consider a tourist trap. This is not where you go for afterwork drinks. In the sidestreets, however, you will find a “secret” bar ‘The Union’ and the nearby Charlottenborg has a cool café. Ask any local and they will recommend Ruby or Brass Monkey. Not one person will recommend Nyhavn.

“For something really different try the Ice Bar at Løngangstræde 27, created from ice collected from the Torne river in Jukkasjärvi, north of the Arctic Circle. ”

This is a promotion bar located in a nice quality hotel. It will not, however, make any Top 100 list of things to do in Copenhagen, if you know the city.

“Best restaurant for business entertaining: If you want to splash out on a real gourmet treat head for the two Michelin-star Kommanddanten restaurant in Adelgade Street, famed for its traditional herrings and other fish. Or if you prefer meat head for Gråbrødre Torv.”

Restaurant Kommendanten went bankrupt and the last time people went for dinner at Grøbrødre Torv was in 1988. (I remember: I ate hamburgers there with Lars Ulrich from Metallica).

“The normal working week is Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.”

This is strange information. Most offices work from 9 to 5. It is the opening hours of the strictly controlled retail and service sector, that is relevant for a traveler here. Bear in mind, too, that Denmark – if you exclude Norway and Greece – have the most flexible working hours in Europe and are at the forefront when it comes to working from home. This is relevant information.

“Where do meetings take place?: Usually in offices or restaurants, though larger meetings may take place in conference rooms.”

Maybe this guide is not for old people after all. Maybe it’s for children?

“What to do in your time off: In a whole afternoon: Get matinee tickets for a performance at the Royal Theater on Kongens Nytorv. The theater’s repertoire of ballet, opera and symphony performances can be seen on its website www.kgl-teater.dk.”

This is a brilliant tip! Well done. There are relatively few matinee events, though. A real cool tip: Christian Friedländer’s stunning scenography for ‘Madame Butterfly’.

“In summer (May to September) visit the Tivoli gardens, one of Europe’s original amusement parks”

You think? Duh! (“Some decent restaurants”? Tivoli is a smorgasbord of international cuisine: try Herman, The Paul and the recently reopened Det Japanske Taarn).

“Best gift to take home: Look for leatherwear.”

Leatherwear? Are you f***** kidding!? Unless the Wall Street Journal are referring to the hardcore gay clubs or S&M shops in Copenhagen, I think the reporter spent too much time at the Ice Bar.

If he was really in Copenhagen, that is.

Please follow me on Twitter here @ronnierocket (daily comments on current affairs) or here @ronniedk (random ramblings).


One thought

  1. Jeg er helt enig Ronnie, godt skrevet! og at hverken Nørrebros barer eller vesterbros ditto samt restauranter er nævnt er jo dumt!. Men fedt at få bekræftet, at nogle møder altså helr rigtigt, afholdes i mødelokaler… 😉

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