On our last visit to Copenhagen, we stayed in an Airbnb in the Norrebro neighborhood. Our host’s apartment was SUPER tiny but within it, she had the Muuto Dots, a Hay dining table, Hay clothes rack and Menu accessories. There is an expectation in Danish culture that the pieces you use on a daily basis are not only functional but also worthy of being displayed in your space. The functional elegance of everyday objects is all around you, and it is wonderful.
One thing I noticed when searching for rental apartments was that while most were well appointed, the bathrooms were tiny and merely utilitarian. I don’t know if that’s a Danish thing or a random coincidence among the apartments we considered.
On our first night in Copenhagen, having arrived after a long day of travel and without a solid dinner plan we wandered around Sank Hans Torv looking for a place that embodied the “Danish design” experience we wanted to have. On our last attempt to find a place we stumbled into Baest and it was everything we were hoping for. It focuses on organic pizza, paying homage to restaurateur, Christian Puglisi’s Italian heritage, and the vibe inside was perfect. Dim lighting, loads of burning candles everywhere, and tons of attention to detail.
The burning candles and focus on a cozy environment define Danish culture. Their word for it is "Hygge” which is the idea of coziness and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. It’s a beautiful sentiment that we read about often on design blogs, but we were pleased to find that it is not a passing trend, but a way of life there.
If you’re searching for a great breakfast, Baest is connected to a lovely bakery called Mirrabelle’s. They serve the most perfectly baked pastries and simple Danish breakfasts.
Copenhagen is full of great coffee shops all around. You must visit Coffee Collective at least once. They take their coffee very seriously and roast it right there. Leaving without at least one bag of coffee is impossible. Graphic designers will find the visit worth it just to see their branded coffee cups. Pro-tip: There is a wonderful bakery on the same street called Meyers Bageri, so you can pick up a pastry, grab a coffee, and take a seat. It is the perfect start to your day.
For other restaurants that we loved, Kiin Kiin Thai is one of only two Michelin star Thai restaurants, and it happened to be right outside our Airbnb. We decided to go for it, and it was an amazing culinary experience. Pro-tip: The owner and chef behind Kiin Kiin also own a fast-casual Thai Bistro right next door called Aroiidee.
Host is a quintessential example of Danish Hygge. It’s a bit rustic, yet still modern and cozy. We felt as if we were dining in an indoor garden. They had some of the biggest aralia plants I’ve ever seen, which are my favorite house plant. The fixtures are lovely too, with chairs all from the Hay FDB series and all of the dining accessories specially designed by Norm Architects.
Bonus tip - The neighborhood of Vesterbro is a very cool destination with many great dining options. It was once a seedy area with lots of industrial workshops but has undergone a renaissance and some of the most fashionable restaurants are in formerly commercial buildings. We tried Bio Mio, Mother, and Pate Pate.
For shopping, you must visit Stroget, the longest shopping street in Europe where your design loving dreams will come true. Even though we have carried Hay at Nannie Inez for nearly three years, I still lost it when we visited the Hay house. It was incredible. The Hay flagship store is located on the 2nd and 3rd floor of a historic apartment building located in the heart of Copenhagen. It is filled with accessories, furniture and textiles.
My absolute favorite find was the Playtype shop. Lonzo and I both went crazy in the store trying to decide what we could carry home. I spent the remainder of the day riding around by bicycle with a backpack full of poster tubes!
Illums Bolighus is a multi-level department store for design-forward home goods. You will find level after level of everything you’ve wanted to see in real life: Hay, Muuto, Normann Copenhagen, etc.
Mirabelle Bakery photo credit — Linn Grubbström for Guide to Copenhagen
Shout out to our friend Greta Rasmus who kindly gave us so many recommendations for Copenhagen, many of which had us head over heals in love.