The Hotel Alexandra in Copenhagen has such a reputation for acquiring vintage furniture that the staff often field phone calls: "We're going to be emptying our late aunt's summer house, are you interested?" And it really does feel less like a hotel and more like you are staying in your favourite Danish aunt's house, admittedly an aunt with an unerring eye for design who has a spacious and welcoming home in a convenient location. In a building that dates to 1882, the Hotel Alexandra has been run by its founder Jeppe Muhlhausen for 30 years, and has been likened to a living Danish furniture design museum. And we aren't talking one or two pieces in a room, and otherwise cookie-cutter hotel furniture. Every single piece throughout the hotel is either original or designed to be sympathetic to Danish design in the mid-20th century.
It's hard to imagine a more quintessentially Danish address than Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard, a major road through Copenhagen bustling with bicycles and cars. But thanks to some very efficient sound-proofing, all you hear when you are in your room is a low traffic hum. Copenhagen is a very walkable city and Hotel Alexandra places you across the boulevard from the Latin Quarter, not far from the start of one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe; the Stroget, just up the road from the amusement park Tivoli and five minutes from Central Station.
There's a lesson in Danish design at every turn in the Hotel Alexandra. A small lift services the 61 rooms across three floors, but it's worth taking the carpeted stairs to read the stencils on the walls explaining the design ethos, or to flip through the art and architecture books on display on the landings overlooking the courtyard. In the lobby, there's an enticing lounge area with an eclectic mix of chairs on a bright blue abstract rug, while floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves display yet more books and miniature replicas of Danish chair designs. Many of the suites are designed in tribute to a Danish great – I particularly liked the look of the Panton suite, all purples and reds in honour of Verner Panton. There are also single rooms which are dedicated to design from the 1950s and 1960s.
A few of Hotel Alexandra's staff remarked that room 338 was one of their favourites and it was easy to see why. It was a generous corner room flooded with light from three tall windows, and a gold plaque on the front door honouring the designer Finn Juhl. It was Juhl's furniture designs which made this room so special – particularly the armchairs facing the bed and the matching two-seater lounge in a recessed window. The arm chairs were called NV-53 easy chairs, and I completely fell for the sea-blue fabric and sleek timber arms you just couldn't help stroking as you sat in them. Sketches of Juhl's chair designs also adorned the walls.
The rest of the suite was neutral to allow the furniture to shine – grey carpet and curtains, white walls, the only other colour the cityscape beyond the windows. The beds were two singles joined together, and European-style with single quilt covers so you could regulate your own warmth. Speaking of warmth, in the Danish summer, room 338 became a little toasty, and I hunted in vain for the air conditioning controls before turning on a timber fan which did the trick. Jeppe the founder said there was no air conditioning in the hotel because it would only be needed in Copenhagen "about 20 days of the year", which made sense (and the windows opened which was handy).
The room also had heavy blackout curtains, which proved vital, given darkness only fell from 9.55pm until 4.26am during my summer stay. The only jarring element to jolt me into 2019 was the ugly black flat-screen TV sitting against one wall. Out of respect for Finn Juhl, I didn't turn it on.
Through a glass door from the lobby was Godtfolk, a restaurant and bar open from breakfast to dinner offering "organic comfort food". It had French doors opening to the quieter side street, with more tables on the footpath, as well as a quiet courtyard. Breakfast (DK142 or $A30 each) was a typical European buffet featuring local, seasonal produce – cold meats including a moreish wild boar salami, smoked salmon, a cheese platter as well as some smoked cheese from nearby Fyn served with radishes, bowls of homemade strawberry jam and fruits fresh from the markets. You could slice your own hunk of bread to eat fresh or toast, from lighter grain varieties to dark rye, and there were also Danish pastries.
Make a point of meeting Jeppe, who has a soft spot for Australians as he once worked at the Sydney Opera House - he proudly told me that Opera House chief executive Louise Herron was a frequent guest. He gave many excellent recommendations – I was already intending to go to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and he endorsed this decision (not only because his grandfather was once the museum's head of exhibition). He also suggested one of his favourite lunch spots in the area of Christianshavn, where I was planning to explore, and Restaurant Kanalen (restaurant-kanalen.dk/) was just what I had in mind. Set in a house that was formerly a customs office on a quiet canal, I sat outside overlooking boats and enjoyed a light lunch of raw salmon with white asparagus and smoked almonds, accompanied by a French rose.
You don't have to be an expert in Danish design to enjoy the Hotel Alexandra – but it's impossible not to appreciate it more after staying there. It's a charming boutique hotel in a great location, with friendly staff, an excellent adjoining bar and restaurant, and so much design inspiration you'll be planning a makeover on your flight home.
Single rooms are priced from DK1295 (about $A285) excluding breakfast, or DK1495 ($A330) for a double room. Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard 8, 1553, Copenhagen. See hotelalexandra.dk
Stylish design, handy location and the hotel's own tourist app for Copenhagen, curated by staff.
The boulevard location could be a turn-off for some guests.
OUR SCORE OUT OF FIVE
Monique Farmer was a guest of Hotel Alexandra.