‘Buy local’ is an economic principle I’ve been applying to my accommodation choices in recent years, bypassing anonymous international lodging in favor of locally owned and run hotels but rarely have I encountered a hotel that feels as much a part of the neighborhood as Copenhagen’s Ibsens Hotel who in turn helped me feel like a local even if only for a few days.

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In writing this and other blog posts I find I’m constantly weighing words for their brevity,  precision and ability to convey a mood, sense or feel so resisted mislabelling the Ibsens a ’boutique’ hotel as I felt this trite and overused cliché doesn’t accurately describe what is it all as boutique hotels are too often overhyped and overpriced who strive so hard to create their own identity they almost ignore the larger community they inhabit. It’s like designing a hotel from the outside in rather than from the inside out which is how it felt at the Ibsens as the neighborhood of Nansengade and its many resident artists have been invited to contribute to the hotel’s homey décor since it was rebuilt in 2011. There is a little book about the Ibsens story here but the artistic flair is immediately evident in the lobby with the colourful design that adorns the pyramid of room safes for guest use.

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The hotel front desk offered a warm welcome when I arrived for my four night stay and handed me a  small mustard coloured leather bag tag that held the ubiquitous plastic room key adding another unexpected unique element.

Off to one side is a small box of art prints for sale created by registered artists who pay for a portion of their stay with ‘art money’. Larger prints are also displayed on the walls of the restaurant area adjacent to the reception desk.

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Photo by author

After taking the stairs to the second floor instead of the elevator and noticing the map of Copenhagen in the hallway carpet arrived at room #259, an interior courtyard facing “Small Room” which is aptly named as the space measures around 130 square feet. What space there is however is organized well with room under the twin bed for your luggage, shelves and the end for coats and shoes plus a clothes rack and half a dozen hangars in a small corner beside the window.

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A wall-mounted flat screen TV, handy reading light and small night stand and window shelf space made for a cozy room that felt bigger with a high ceiling. The window opened easily and I used it to cool off a warm room but in doing so heard much more of the noise from the courtyard below.

For a smaller room the very white bathroom was a good size for a single guest with a sink and small shelf for toiletries, toilet and in one corner a shower stall.

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The tile in the shower stall was lowered about a half inch and centered on a drain so the morning shower didn’t flood the whole bathroom unlike other rooms with a similar set-up I’ve stayed in. With the shower curtain pulled there isn’t too much room to manoeuver but with strong water pressure and always a good supply of hot water was more than adequate. One design flaw missing from the shower stall is a wall shelf or rack for the bottles of Nordic Amber designer shampoo and body wash the hotel provides.

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As my room rate included breakfast I enjoyed a leisurely coffee and fresh farm-to-table Nordic food from local farmers and bakers. A bowl of Muesli, wheat and oat brand mixed with seeds and nuts, followed by an open faced sandwich of dark rye bread with sliced sausage and organic cheeses topped with a chilled small jar of skyr, the Nordic equivalent of yogurt but a little milder, made for a hearty way to begin the day.  As diverse as the selection is there are no hot eggs or meats available for breakfast which is served 7 – 10 AM weekdays and 7:30 – 11 AM weekends. Note that not all room rates include breakfast so read the fine print of any reservation carefully as adding it locally while possible will run around CAD$29 which for a morning meal is fairly pricey for a three-star hotel even with Copenhagen’s higher cost of living.


The Ibsens location is a quieter residential district but as central Copenhagen is very walkable the casual stroll to Tivoli Gardens, for example, is only 10 minutes. The metro in from the city’s international airport runs every 4 – 6 minutes during the day and the closest stop is Nørreport Station which is a few blocks to the hotel with its neon sign a handy beacon. Between the station and hotel is Torvehallerne, a city market and food hall with over 60 local vendors offering everything from fresh fish, which in Danish is frisk fisk, to smoked meats, fresh produce, cheeses and specialty freshly brewed  coffees. There are both indoor and outdoor seating areas but as my visit was in the cool and rainy Fall season I stayed inside to sample a few of the delicacies on my trips past Torvehallerne which acts as a natural landmark for the Ibsens a few short blocks away.  


As almost everyone in Copenhagen bicycles it’s the best way to explore this flat and compact city center. The Ibsens has rental bikes available for the equivalent of CAD$28 per day so inquire at reception desk.

Cozy Hour is a daily ritual between 5 – 6 PM where guests are encouraged to enjoy a complimentary wine or beer and interact with others or spend time with friends & family. I very much enjoyed relaxing with a beer in an easy chair beside the fireplace after a day of sightseeing and meeting fellow travellers including a British couple whose kids had surprised them with a weekend in Copenhagen for their 25th anniversary.

The staff are what helps make for such a casual atmosphere as there was always a friendly greeting or helpful suggestion at every interaction. In one case realising I’d forgotten to pack my smart phone charging cord and adapter plug asked at reception if there was one I could borrow thinking it was a long shot. The clerk dug around in the back room and brought one out that fit my Android phone and so I was able to used it the rest of my stay to recharge my phone which I use to take photos and videos in my travels. The small tech rescue was very much appreciated and seemed part of the hotel’s customer service focus.

My short stay at Ibsens flashed by all too quickly but came away grateful I’d experienced such an authentically local hotel as it’s sadly an all too rare encounter.