There’s probably no place on the planet as effortlessly cool as Copenhagen. The city seems to climb to the top of pretty much every Monocle survey ever, its residents are devastatingly stylish and it is by all accounts a haven for hygge. Bikes and fantastic coffee abound, and the vibrant food scene—underpinned by the plucky New Nordic movement—has made for some of today’s finest restaurants. And while its reputation for furniture and fashion are well-established, this “City of Spires” has also produced some of the most imaginative architects of the past century, from Arne Jacobsen to Jørn Utzon and Bjarke Ingels.
As the first in our Go Explore series of City Guides, our friends Jacob Kampp Berliner and Cecile Thorsmark, consummate Copenhageners, take a break to give us the lowdown on life in the fair Scandinavian city they call home.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and your work.
Jacob Kampp Berliner, creative entrepeneur and investor. I’m involved in Soulland (the leading Danish menswear brand), Fake Diamond Records (Oh Land, etc.), Gallery Steinsland Berliner (contemporary art in Stockholm), Central Hotel og Cafe (Copenhagen’s smallest hotel and café), Café Granola (voted best breakfast in Copehagen), Hang The Prints (Online Nordic artist prints) Café Auto, Café Pixie, Café Taxa…
We met in New York four years ago and have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
How’s life in Copenhagen?
Pretty easy, grab your bicycle and enjoy! It’s a cosmopolitan city but with a cozy, local and liberal atmosphere and a vibrant creative environment in everything from fashion to skateboarding.
What brought you here? When did you first arrive?
Jacob: Was living in SF and moved to Copenhagen for a girl.
Cecilie: Was living in Madrid and moved to Copenhagen with a guy.
Where’s the best breakfast in town?
Granola for sure! Only minus is the line to get a seat…
How about your favorite coffee spot?
Our kitchen for an Italian moka espresso in the morning—or the tiny Central Hotel & Café.
Best minor monument in the city?
Christiania. Walk around, find a spot and chill, there’s so much stuff going on and weed is almost legal. The worst is the Little Mermaid, a complete waste of time…
Do you have a secret hideout anywhere in the city?
Yes—a small harbor hidden behind a big industrial harbor at Nordhavn. You can’t find anything more klondike than this. It’s always windy there, so it’s a perfect way to get your mind reset or your hangover cured.
When we don’t know what to do, we become tourists in our own city: take a canal boat and explore the city or take the train to Louisiana Art Museum. It’s totally unique because it’s quite discrete, yet really beautiful and it combines the best of Scandinavia: architecture, art and an easy going atmosphere.
Which is your favorite neighborhood?
Our neighborhood around Værnedamsvej that’s just on the border of two neighborhoods (the poorest and the richest). It’s a mekka of delicatessen spots, small local boutiques and good restaurants and cafés. The area still has no name.
Where do you go (and what do you drink) on a weekend night out?
Our preferred place to start an evening out is the bodega Vinstuen 90 just around the corner. It’s famous for something called slow beers—you order one normal, sit down and wait for the slow one and quickly get really tipsy. Here you’ll find everything from the most distinguished alcoholics to the kool kids hanging out.
Osteria 16 is a new favorite, it´s a very small restaurant that has an intimate private-dining feel, and the owners Emil and Morten often turn it into an after party hangout
When we go for an opening at the V1 Gallery in the Meatpacking district, we like to continue the night at Fiskebaren for sea food and cocktails. When we (rarely) go to the city center, our favorite spot is Condesa. It’s a Mexican restaurant opened by some friends. It always turns into a party, and we end up spending the whole night there. Whenever we are on our way home, but not really ready to end the night, we pop by Amigo bar, a gay bar that never closes and where you meet other never-want-to-go-homes likeminded people.
What sets the city apart from any other city on earth?
Two things: 1) The bicycle culture: you pass by people you know all the time, 2) we are a schizophrenic people—introverted and grumpy when it’s winter (8 months a year) and outgoing and friendly when the sun is out.
What should you pack for a summer trip to Copenhagen?
Don’t pack a thing. Go shopping.
Hat tip to Kristoffer Parup for the Copenhagen trivia.
And warmest thanks to Jacob and Cecile for showing us around!