Danish by Design: A Review of the Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen
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Designed by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, the Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen, is an architectural icon whose green-hued monolithic tower is an unmistakable part of the Danish capital’s skyline. Since it opened in 1960, it has gone by many names: the Royal Hotel, the SAS Royal Hotel, the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel, the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel and now the Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen.
The Radisson Collection was launched as part of the rebranding of Club Carlson as Radisson Rewards earlier this year. The brand within a brand includes 14 of the company’s premium hotels in unique locations and properties such as Radisson Collection, Strand Stockholm; Radisson Collection, Royal Mile Edinburgh; The May Fair London and Radisson Collection Agra.
During a recent trip to Copenhagen, I found I had a night free in my itinerary to explore one of the city’s hotels. Since I’d never set foot inside the Royal Copenhagen on previous visits, I thought this would be an ideal time to book a stay. Here are my impressions of the experience.
Hotel rates in Copenhagen tend to be very expensive, not just compared to other European destinations, but in general, and the 261-room Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen, was no exception. For the evening of my stay, rooms started at $377 per night for an Individual Room, or $534 for a standard Collection Room.
I would suggest logging into your Radisson Rewards account before searching, because that brought the rates down to $358 and $512, respectively.
There were also award nights available for 70,000 points, or 20,000 points plus $380 for a Collection Room.
I decided just to book a paid Individual Room and stick it out since that was already a lot of money. However, upon checkout in the booking process, I was offered the option to upgrade to a number of different room types, starting with a Collection Room for 129 DKK (about $20).
That seemed like a much better option than paying $156, which was the difference between an Individual and a Collection room at the time of booking, so I clicked on the agreement for an eStandby upgrade and took my chances.
I paid using my Chase Sapphire Reserve® to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar in addition to my Radisson Rewards earnings of 20x points per dollar.
I landed in Copenhagen around noon, collected my luggage and caught the train into the city, which only took about 15 minutes. The train station was two blocks away from the hotel, so I just walked from there. I arrived at the hotel by 1pm.
The hotel was in a fantastic location for first-time visitors to Copenhagen and those looking to stay centrally, since it was so close to the train station and is across the street from Tivoli Gardens. It was also a quick stroll (about 10 to 20 minutes depending on how fast you walked) from various sights along the harbor and museums like Christiansborg Palace, Amalienborg Palace, the Designmuseum Danmark as well as the pedestrianized shopping street of Strøget.
The hotel had bikes for rental just outside the front door, which cost 150 DKK ($25) for the day.
Check-in and Lobby
When I arrived, there did not seem to be any bellmen on duty at the front door, but there were some standing by the concierge desk in the lobby.
I didn’t need help with my bags, so I just took a moment to pause and admire the floating spiral staircase in the center of the lobby, which, like everything originally in the hotel, was designed by Jacobsen as part of his philosophy of gesamtkunstwerk, or "total work of art."
The lobby and guest rooms were refurbished earlier this year by a design firm called Space Copenhagen, which brought back some of Jacobsen’s furniture, including the Egg, Drop and Swan chairs, but also incorporated original pieces like semicircular Loafer chairs in the bar (more on that later), halo-like chandeliers and pieces by other Danish designers, like Louis Poulsen artichoke lights. The lobby looked magnificent, and was a far cry from the version TPG saw during his visit here in 2012.
If you are a design buff, you could make an appointment at the front desk to visit Room 606, which had preserved original furnishings.
There were two check-in agents at the counter, and the one who took care of me told me that they had upgraded me to a Collection Room, which was ready at that point.
She did not mention anything about my eStandby upgrade and made no mention of an additional fee for the room. To be honest, I’d forgotten that I’d even agreed to it, since I had booked the room over a month earlier. She directed me to the elevators just past the concierge desk and sent me up to the ninth floor.
The hallways did not have windows but were still fairly bright because they were painted white.
Walking into my room, I immediately felt that it was on the small side at 20 square meters (215 square feet), but still comfortable.
Space Copenhagen installed its Amore Mirror series in the rooms both to make them feel larger and to reflect the natural environment outside the windows, and it did give the room an airier ambience.
The bed was dressed simply with a mattress pad and white linens. It had a gray, upholstered headboard backed by a wood-paneled wall and framed circular mirrors, all of which were nice Modernist touches.
To either side were wooden nightstands and panels with European outlets and USB ports. One held a Nespresso coffee machine and a box with coffee, tea and sugar.
The other had a drawer with the minibar containing sodas, wine and beer.
Space Copenhagen reintroduced deep marble windowsills from the original design that were meant to create a transition from the interior to the exterior. While beautiful, this took up some of the room’s sparse real estate unnecessarily. I did, however, love the purple Swan chair, marble-topped table and window seat.
The view out the window was of the busy Vesterport train station, though I wasn’t bothered by too much noise from it or the street.
Housekeeping had left two bottles of water, one still, the other sparkling, and replenished these at turndown.
The far wall held the flat-screen TV with Apple Airplay streaming capability and another mirror with vertical divisions that were supposed to echo the exterior of the hotel.
The closet was positively tiny and by the front door.
Across from it was the equally minuscule bathroom, though I did like the gray marble walls and flooring.
There was a single sink and shelf containing amenities like a shower cap and Radisson Collection bath amenities such as berry-sea salt body wash and aloe-kelp conditioner.
The shower had beautiful brass fittings and both handheld and overhead shower heads.
Wi-Fi was complimentary and operated at good speeds.
Overall, I loved the room design, but not its size. The bathroom felt too small, especially for a room that originally cost over $500.
Food and Beverage
The hotel’s bar and restaurant were directly off the lobby, and felt both swanky and sophisticated. The bar itself had a beautiful, tiered, lit overhang, while the rest of the area was furnished with Space Copenhagen’s red velvet Loafer chairs, gray banquettes and booths and even a fireplace.
The signature cocktails served here were named after famous designers, including the Arne Jacobsen Tea Sour with mezcal, tea simple syrup, egg white and lemon; and the Georg Jensen Royal Flush with whiskey, pineapple juice and peach vodka. All were priced at 130 to 150 DKK (about $20 to $25).
The Café Royal restaurant was filled with light, thanks to huge windows. Jacobsen designed the chairs and interesting seats called Mayor sofas that were originally created for the city hall of Søllerød. They had an unusual dandelion print also drawn by Jacobsen.
The restaurant was open all day, with breakfast from 195 DKK ($30) per person, afternoon tea featuring smørrebrød open-faced sandwiches for 295 DKK ($45), and lunch and dinner à la carte. The dinner menu featured items like oysters on the half shell, beef tartare, steaks cooked on the hotel’s Josper grill, moules frites and mushroom risotto. Everything sounded good, but given that Copenhagen has one of the world’s most interesting restaurant scenes, I felt like staying in for the evening would have been a waste. Instead, I walked about a mile west to a restaurant called Pony, the casual (and less expensive!) sister restaurant to chef Nicolai Nørregaard’s Michelin two-star Kadeau.
After I showered, all I wanted was to get out into the city, so I did not stick around the hotel much that afternoon. I did, however, take a peek next door at the Fitness.dk Royal gym next door that hotel guests were permitted to use along with regular members. Because this was a regular gym, it was not open 24 hours a day.
I also asked the on-duty concierge for a lunch recommendation near Christiansborg Palace, and he suggested the restaurants on the top floor of the Ilums store on the Strøget, which was a great choice for a quick lunch in the sunshine.
I want to mention here that, when I checked out the following morning, I noticed a charge for the room upgrade on my bill. As I said, I had forgotten that I’d done the eStandby upgrade at this point, and I told the agent checking me out that no one had mentioned a fee for the upgrade at check-in. They were gracious enough to subtract the 129 DKK ($20) from my bill without any further questions at that point, but now that I know what happened, I feel guilty for having said anything.
Despite exorbitant room rates, the Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen, was still a good choice for my needs. It was conveniently located, and I was excited to check out such a landmark design hotel. All the staff I interacted with were friendly and helpful, which set a lovely tone for my stay.
That said, I thought room was quite small, to the point where I questioned how habitable the room I’d originally booked would have been. Though Café Royal’s cocktails sounded delicious, the food menu was not interesting enough to tempt me to stay in for the evening. I also wonder how well the hotel will continue doing now that Copenhagen is experiencing a small hotel boom with the recent openings of both budget and luxury properties across the city. While the Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen, still has its design cachet and pedigree to fall back on, it’s going to have to improve its amenities or lower its rates to remain competitive.