Copenhagen hotels and the best time to visit this amazing city are shared as we explore traveling with sustainability in mind to this destination city in Denmark. In this episode, Andy and Todd take us to Copenhagen, Denmark, with Peter Høgh Pedersen, the Managing Director of Villa Copenhagen, and Kasper Eich-Romme, the co-founder of GoBoat. Copenhagen is great in that it is compact, with beautiful and colorful buildings and great food… on top of being a world leader in sustainability. Peter and Kasper walk us through the many Copenhagen charms and share more inside knowledge about the city that no travel books can provide. Join this episode as we marvel into the beautiful, walkable, and compact city of Copenhagen.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing meetings in Copenhagen, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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When you think of Copenhagen, Denmark, you’re probably thinking of historic colorful buildings lining the canals, or possibly The Little Mermaid statue that sits just in the water off the shore. You’re probably not thinking about a foodie’s paradise. If you’re a fan of oysters or want to visit the world’s best restaurant, or one of the city’s fifteen Michelin-star eateries, this is the place to visit. Considered one of the happiest places on Earth, Copenhagen values ecofriendly living. We sit down with Peter Pederson, the Managing Director of Villa Copenhagen, to discuss how hotels can implement best sustainable practices. What better way to see the city than from its harbor. We will also be speaking to Kasper Eich-Romme, Cofounder of GoBoat, a solar-powered sustainable boat rental company. Architecture, music, good eating and the simple uniqueness of Copenhagen are why it made our list of favorites. After this episode, we hope you will add it to your travel bucket list as well. Welcome to this episode, Copenhagen.
We are excited to bring to you one of our favorite cities in Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark. One of the places we’ve been in many times, and there’s a reason we’ve been there many times. It is such a great city because it is compact. You can do a lot in a short amount of time. If you’re looking online, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with all the colorful buildings and great food. Todd, what are your thoughts?
What you’re describing is Nyhavn. It’s probably one of the most photographed places in Copenhagen. I’m sure most of our readers have seen it. They also call it the world’s longest bar, because at the bottom along the waterway, it’s all bars and restaurants. In fact, we did a group dinner at a restaurant right along at one time, and it was probably some of the best food I’ve had.
The thing about Copenhagen is it is a great walking city because it is compact. You can do so much in such a short amount of time, you can also see it from the water, and it’s a completely different experience. It goes on the top of people’s bucket lists that are backpacking across Europe. You have to stop in Copenhagen and experience it. It’s easy to get in and out. The airport is right there. You can jump in and get straight into the city and it has a great feel.
There are a couple of other things I don’t know if people know about Denmark’s capital city, but it’s one of the leaders in the world for sustainability. They have pushed to create an environment that is sustainable, whether it’s wind power, solar power, and this has to do with their vehicles and their boats. You’ll see it everywhere and you’ll notice it everywhere.
You’re also going to learn a lot about that from both of our guests, about sustainability, their businesses and how they use it. It is part of the culture there, which is fantastic.
They’re also the world’s happiest people that live in Copenhagen. That’s according to The World Happiness Report, and they say, “Happiness is linked to many things,” but they say social equality, community spirit, education without tuition, public health and apparently, they’re doing something right. We have a lot of great guests and we’re going to go into a little bit more about Copenhagen specific. Our first guest is Peter Pedersen. Peter is the Managing Director of Villa Copenhagen. We’re going to get his perspective on the hotel side and find out what his guests look for and what they can expect if they go to stay with his property.
I’m here with a special guest from Copenhagen. We have Peter Pedersen, who is the Managing Director of the Villa Copenhagen. Peter, thank you for joining us.
Thank you. It’s great to be here and thank you for having me and Villa Copenhagen.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you come from? How did you end up at the Villa Copenhagen?
I’m probably one of the old school coming from the kitchen through the restaurant and made myself up, added some studies along the way, became hotel general manager for the first time in 1999 in Stockholm, Sweden with a company called Radisson. I ventured out in the world, Hilton in Egypt. I went to Asia with them, opened a hotel or a resort for Banyan Tree in China. I went from there straight to Nigeria, Africa with InterContinental. I opened a nice InterContinental in Davos, Switzerland for The World Economic Forum, and then spent three years being on my own as a self-employed consultant to the industry until somebody thought it was a good idea to bring me home for the opening of this one here in Copenhagen. I never thought I would come back home again. I think my mom gave up hope also.
We should mention that you are a Dane. Your entire career was outside of Denmark and now, you’re home. That’s what he’s referring to. Does it feel good to be home close to your mom?
Denmark is a fantastic place. With the destination I listed for you, the comparison is even more striking. I’m happy to say that I think Scandinavia is probably the safest.
It was the happiest place to live in the world.
We are spending a bit on this in the hotel concept as I will coming back to. We’ve seen a lot on CNN and BBC about the happy Danes. Despite the tax burden and the heavy showers and all this, we’re still okay.
You have Malmo on the other side of the bridge. It’s different but the proximity to you is wonderful. It’s cool to get both fields, but Copenhagen is amazing. For people who’ve never been, it’s historical and the architecture, people and food are amazing. Your hotel has a philosophy of sustainability. Tell us a little bit about that.
We’ve converted an older central post admin or mail administration. I’m sitting in a building that is inaugurated the first time in September 22, 1912. The building turned 108 years. It’s 390 rooms, 25,000 square meters. It’s a huge property. We wanted to have a boutique-hotel feel to it. How do you do that? How do you create that anticipation of something that is rather more intimate, a bit more casual, still luxurious and raising the expectations of something more individual?
We thought Villa was a great way to do that. Immediately, people will think about something that is smaller than 390 rooms. We want it to spin on that a little bit, we were back and forth, and some people were saying that’s because I spent three years in Italy with Villa Borghese and Villa Pamphili and all these things in Rome. There was maybe something there, but I thought it was important for us not to use the hotel world because there are many hotels here. We have Radisson, local chains, Marriott, Hiltons. You have the usual palette of international or regional operators. We thought we wanted to try to set ourselves apart from all of that and redefine some of the principles of luxury hotel industry. To cost big building Villa, it was a naughty start.
You have a philosophy of conscious luxury. Tell us about that.
Conscious luxury is in a Danish way of defining luxury. The expression less is more, your plate might not be overloaded like some places that were around where you are living. That doesn’t mean we don’t get enough to eat. We do. It’s about building a luxury hotel in a world where we don’t need more opulence. How do you go about that? The biggest carbon footprint saving story we have is the conversion of the building itself.
You have that building from the ground up.
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Some engineers calculated the footprint for me and he said, “More than 80% or almost double of what you’ve done.” Trying to add all this technology inside, starting from our rooftop lapping pool, which we can heat up to 30 to 40 degrees Celsius and up to 90% of the energy used for the heat procedure is coming from excess heat from our centralized cooling systems. I found out that sustainability is on everybody’s mind here. It’s something that you have to have some strategy to document around to engage with the right level of customers and professional companies like medical and pharma industry here and other big operators, so that they check that you are doing things right and you check that they’re doing things right. Over and above that, it became obvious to me that the young people that we want to employ, they want to be part of an employer who is doing things right or at least showing some serious attempt to do so. It was both a branding story to go out with it and an employer branding story, but it’s also the right thing to do.
Are you in one of your rooms?
I’m in a corner suite.
Tell us a little bit about what in the room plays into that conscious luxury?
For some of the outfittings, we’ve done a classical interior design here that replicates a classical upscale, Copenhagen urban apartment in the classical older buildings, Centennial building. We put in oak herringbone floors because they literally last forever if we treat them right. We’ve done some designs in the furniture that has a Scandinavian feel to it, but we’ve not gone overboard. We don’t have any extreme coloring that’s out of fashion in eighteen months.
They had to redo over and over again.
We have built the hotel with 300 rooms, but only about twenty bathtubs. We don’t have the luxury of bathtubs. We don’t think that people check into a hotel to sit in the bathtub. We’d rather have a nice shower.
It is much easier to control the water usage as well with that.
Down to some of the nitty-gritty, we are not putting on top of the minibar two plastic bottles of mineral water saying, “This is complimentary of the hotel.” We put a little brass tray with the two glasses and a corral. We have a little note in the room saying, “It’s okay to drink the water from the tap in Copenhagen. Go ahead and do that. There will be a bottle of one in the minibar.” Some of those things are a conscious luxury for us.
If you have the discerning guest, what do you guys do or what have you done to go over the top or to make their experience amazing at the property? Do you have any examples of where you’ve got a picky guest and they’ve asked you for something that you don’t know if you could deliver on, but you do anyways?
We tried to be personal in our approach. We have picked all our staff in a recruitment procedure where everyone had three interviews and the last one was with me. Pre-Corona, we were at 180 employees which is quite big for Copenhagen with such a heavy payroll burden as we have. We probed all the staff on the conscious luxury part and asked their own philosophy and what they do at home to be a little more sustainable than maybe the average. Above all, it was important for me that everybody lived in and around Copenhagen, if they were indeed commuting on the bridge from Sweden which many of them are, I wanted to make sure that they were in love with Copenhagen whether they are Danes or like me or Swedish, German, British or Italian. We have many nationalities working here and most of the people working here like living in Copenhagen.
We want to have that inbuilt Copenhagen concierge. The little mermaid you can find blindfolded and maybe even Tivoli which is right across the street from where I’m sitting. The little quirky shop down in east together where two Swedish guys have made a little shop that are selling hats, boots and they have a bourbon bar at the back. You’re not finding those or the little Mexican breakout chef from Noma who have opened middle tapas bar at the bottom of east together also where you have to pass all kinds of homeless prostitutes and all this to get there. That whole mix and match of things is what you get when you have staff who are living that in their daily life. They can point you in the right direction. I think that can exceed the expectations of a guest who is looking for something different.
That brings me to my point about your concierge, like those recommendations that you mentioned off the beaten path, those things that the locals do enjoy is your concierge. Could you describe the concierge philosophy? If someone comes and asks for something, are you going to send them this way which tends to be the more popular, safer? Are you going to send them this way, which tends to be walking in those neighborhoods and checking out the locals? Tell us a little bit about your concierge and then how they make recommendations in the area?
Happiness is one of our three values. You ask a little bit about that, but now we’ve covered conscious luxury a little bit, which is the one in the middle. Happiness is the last one. It reflects us working here as Copenhagen knows, being a Dane Copenhagen or Swede Copenhagen, never mind, because if you live in Copenhagen, you are a Copenhagener. I want them to tell the guests the recommendations that they have, not the top five that we have listed, because as a group thing, they are the cooler thing to go. They should tell the guests where they would go for that beer after work or where they would buy that piece of furniture that is done with the upcycling wood and whatnot. Find that designer or that little popup or startup ice cream shop, where these boys found that out of the brown bananas, they can take the sugar out and they can make ice cream. I want to send them to places like that.
That’s what makes it special. One thing I’d want to hit on is your executive chef, speaking of your staff, is it Tore Gustafsson? I was impressed by reading about him. Tell us about him and his philosophy because it definitely feeds into the overall philosophy of the hotel. I also want to know about your rooftop garden.
Tore is a Swedish chef who had been around the bush for a while. He worked in Stockholm. He’s quite famous in Sweden and was in Denmark also. He’s been the head chef or the executive chef of a place called Paté Paté down in the meatpacking district, which is around 300 to 400 meters walk from here. His philosophy is about giving food daily. In Sweden, you call it the who spends cost, which is your daily plates giving them a turn and twist but more so making sure that you’re following the local seasons. You will not find a pineapple salad on our menu because there won’t be a pineapple anywhere near this hotel. He can venture out when it comes to flavors and spices. He likes to say that his cuisine is Southern European with flavors from the Northern part of Africa as well. That’s what he is tapping into and succeeding. Most business are sharing these dishes, much of it is based on vegetables. Two people will have maybe five small sharing dishes. You’ll not have a big piece of meat. You can get it. He has a signature dish which is a long-roasted half head of a pig. You can leave the dinner table there and then you say, “That was great. I’m full and I’m good. We barely had any meat.”
You’re still full and that’s okay. It goes to sustainability as well.
When we have meat and fish, we make sure that we know the food chain from where it’s coming.
How about the rooftop garden? I hear you have honeybees as well.
We have put in a green roof on top of the big ballroom, which is 1,200 square meters. It’s called sedum roof and it’s all little things that are growing and survive. It’s a green garden and the honey bees are finding their way there. For the spring season, we’ll have a collaboration with somebody who is doing rooftop being around Copenhagen and we are going to tap into that. By then, the chef will have pots of Rosemary and other stuff going on up there also. Right next to it, we have the 25-meter lapping pool. It’s a green oasis in the middle of the city.
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That’s definitely a thing to come and see. Anybody can go up there and enjoy the garden. We’ve got a picture of that on our website.
The three courses, you said happiness, conscious luxury. What was the third?
Contrast. It’s making a brand-new hotel in an old building and wanted to be seen as having our roots in the local neighborhoods, being Copenhagen, but with an outlook on the world and having international standards. Our “way” is about having a different kind of interior designs. I’m sitting here in there in a classical Scandinavian looking, smelling feeling room and then we’re down in isolated contrast where the brick walls are laid all bare. On the other side of the hotel, looking at the more classical part of the Copenhagen we have original wood paneling and boardroom where we barely did anything but restored it nicely. You have new and old. You have different kinds of designs.
We’ve been challenged by somebody who said, “Where’s the red line?” That’s where contrast is neat to have because we don’t have red lines here. We don’t do lines at all. We like the contrast. We like the number of experiences that you have going through the place and the way we dress and the team that we employ are from all walks of life, foreigners, locals. I’m from the province way far out of Copenhagen, some 100 kilometers. I’m not a Copenhagen out to the core of myself, but I am now because I live here. We open to everybody and try to speak diversity and live by it also.
We’d like to talk about bucket list items and the hotel being one, go in and stayed, but if you talk to a guest and you’re like, “You have to do this while you’re in the city.” What would you recommend based on your personal experience that they do whether it’s a restaurant or a fun activity? You and I talked about Christiania, which to me was an amazing experience. I don’t know if it’s for everybody, but I loved it.
I’m an outdoor person. I think you should explore some of the harbor front which in some areas, they cleaned up from an industrial harbor to recreational places. On the far end of the picture, that used to be where we had the Marine and everything. It’s a bit rougher on the edges. Street food markets are coming up there. Some old ship walk buildings are being turned into entertainment places either for late-night, salsa dancing, wall climbing, repelling and anything in between.
There’s also a great World War II museum.
A functioning part of our Marine is still over there. The greens or the king’s ship or royal’s ship is mostly docked over there. Also, you can go there with a hover bus so you can pass in the canal boat. There is CopenHill, which is a huge plant where they’re burning garbage and reusing the heat from that back into central heating, and on the top of that building, they’ve made a green skiing hill.
What’s the green skiing hill use, roller blades or roller skis?
You are using skis, but it’s on a slippery green map that you’re skiing down, and there is a little lift bringing you up.
There’s a bucket list for you.
Skiing clubs in Denmark are queuing to train there knowing that we will never get anybody even close to place number 200. I would go close to where I am now 400 meters down to the meatpacking district, experience a Friday or Saturday night down there with all the quirky restaurants and bars, seeing people mixing up.
Thank you for all the great recommendations. We do have our rapid-fire questions and you’ve lived in Africa, Switzerland, you’ve been to the United States, you’re a world traveler. We’d like to tell our guests to convey to our readers things about themselves that might help them be a better traveler. Our first question for you is have you ever completed anything on your personal bucket list and if so, what was it?
I don’t keep a list. My wife has a long one. I’m tagging on to that, but having been working in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Switzerland, Italy, my wife is Italian. I get to travel quite a lot, not only with the job but still as a multicultural family. Mix as much with the locals as you can.
You get in there and understand what makes the city the city.
I’ve been invited to Bedouin for breakfast during Ramadan up on the north coast of Egypt. We were sitting on the floor, eating the meal and talking to them because they were delivering staff to the hotel I was working at. We were invited there. You read in any guide book, “Don’t drink the water they serve you,” but you drink the water and the tea. You play along, you don’t try to impose your world on them.
If you could live anywhere in the world for one year, where would it be?
I still love Italy a lot.
Any particular part of it in Italy?
I discovered Sardinia many years ago for the first time. I’ve been working and living in many palm tree tropical destinations all over the world. I was not aware that we had something beautiful right in the center of Europe ourselves. That was a great discovery.
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If you could travel with someone either famous or infamous, alive or dead, who would it be?
When I was dealing with the InterContinental in Davos during The World Economic Forum, I hoped Obama would show up because I knew he would stay at my hotel.
When packing for a trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our readers?
I’m not sure I have any view that surprises them.
We’ve heard a corkscrew quite a bit.
People in the hotel wants to travel with a flashlight. I forget some of the other ones, but some creative ones.
I tend to bring the coffee press. I dare not say that as a hotelier, but I’ve become a client also, and I’ve been a host also because we have a house that we do rent out to Airbnb. I think sometimes there are things that are missing. Wineglasses are another thing. I rarely bring them, but often you’re checking them in a place and they don’t have a proper glass to drink a glass of wine.
You’ve already given us some great examples of must do’s in Copenhagen, but do you have one more for us?
You have to have Tivoli on your list if you’re coming here the first time. I think it’s the world’s oldest amusement park. They turned 175 years. They’ve kept themselves relevant in the middle of the city. It’s a nice feel, good, beautiful experience, but Copenhagen has a lot to offer. Go on a bicycle and find your own way. You might find something I don’t.
It’s probably the friendliest bicycling city in the world.
It’s definitely one of my favorite cities in Europe. I find it comfortable for an American tourist who might be a little nervous, but you get embedded into all of European, Scandinavian and specifically Danish culture. It’s a wonderful place.
You cover it quite easily. It’s not big, you can easily get a grasp of it.
Where can readers go to find more about your hotel and social media or website? Where’s the best place for them to go?
We’re doing a good job on Instagram, @VillaCPH and VillaCopenhagen.com, our website. We are still trying to display the hotel a lot there, but we go into more neighborhood stories there as we go along at the beginning. It’s been important for us to tell a lot about the hotel there. Wonderful Copenhagen is a website also that is done by our tourism board and they are doing a fantastic job in showing the great things in Copenhagen, even some quirky ones as well.
We look forward to getting over there and checking it out.
We’d like to thank you. For our readers, Peter has graciously given us a two-night stay with breakfast at Villa Copenhagen. Please go to Destination-Everywhere.com to sign up and get a chance to stay at this fantastic eco-friendly property. Peter, we can’t thank you enough. We look forward to seeing you in Copenhagen next time we come over and if you’re in Florida, please stop by and say hi.
You’re welcome in Copenhagen and thank you for all your interest in Copenhagen. It’s appreciated.
Thank you, Peter.
Are you ready to book your hotel for your next company event or family adventure? Let AMI help. We have ongoing relationships with all major hotel chains and access to over 200,000 hotels. Why us? We receive special promotions before they hit the open market, meaning significant cost savings to you. Go to Destination-Everywhere.com and click the Source Now button. Let us get to work for you.
We are about to talk about our top ten bucket list items to do when you’re in the beautiful city of Copenhagen. We’ve got a lot to cover. We’re going to get started with what Todd mentioned. He’s going to tell you a little bit about that bar area.
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We’re going to go back to Nyhavn, and it is the area with the beautiful buildings that are colored that we talked about. It’s probably one of the most photographed areas. In the 1960s, this area was a Red-Light District. We talk about a revitalization of a community. What used to be in the ‘60s, the Red-Light District is now having some of the best foods you can get in the country. Some of these places are also open 24 hours. If you’re looking for a place to eat and it’s 2:00 in the morning, and you’re finishing a night out, you could go down there and you’ll find something great for your appetite.
Number two is something that I’ve never seen before. It is experience time on the water on your own parkipelago. It is an artificial floating island that’s a public park that can be moved around to create larger islands and it’s unique. It’s brand new. They have two more planned for 2021 and nine total. It is inspired as artwork to generate questions and curiosity from bystanders walking by and then you can go onto these floating artificial islands. I have got to do that.
If you go Google parkipelago in Copenhagen, like an archipelago, which is natural island, you’ll see these pictures of these islands. It will blow your mind. The thought that somebody had in putting this together and making them come to fruition because they’re neat. Some of them are all wood deck with a tree in the middle that float. There are some that look like they have grass on them and it’s magnificent. We’re going to go from the water back. When we think of Denmark, there’s a term everybody uses in the US. When we talk about pastries, it’s the Danish pastry. There’s a reason we don’t say in many other countries before they’re made, but Danish pastries, you know exactly what we’re talking about. You could learn the art of baking at Danish pastry and take a baking class somewhere. There are places that teach the iconic treat and they bake with a professional pastry chef. You can take home some of those skills and it’s great for food lovers. You could go track that down in several places in Denmark.
After you eat your pastry, you can head straight over to the Carlsberg brewery. If you’ve never had Carlsberg beer, it’s fantastic. It’s a blonde beer that’s flavorful, but the brewery is over 250 years old and offers beer tasting. What a great thing to do midday, late afternoon with your friends. You can also use it as a unique venue for business meetings and conferences, which our company AMI has done in the past and the attendees love the space. It’s cool. The concept behind Carlsberg by the founder was he wanted to make an affordable beer for the general public. His prices were always kept very low and made it popular. He named the brewery after his son Carl who gifted the little mermaid statue that we talked about to the City of Copenhagen. What a great gift to the city and another great bucket list item to do.
I have a lot of experience with Carlsberg. I used to in another life represent that beer in a certain market in the United States. It was always a hit, but it’s a lot more expensive in the US and I’m sure it is in Copenhagen. This next experience is amazing. It’s definitely something that incorporates art, entertainment, social awareness, and then food because all of those things represent Denmark. There is a chef named Rasmus Munk, and you can go onto his Instagram site and see some of his creations. If you go to @RestaurantAlchemist, you’re going to see cool things. What they do are complete performances, drama, architecture, visual technology. Diners are encouraged to come with an open mind and enjoy this holistic cuisine. It’s not cheap. It’s roughly about $550, but you do need to make reservations ahead of time.
It’s a 50-course menu. If you put it in that context, I think it’s affordable.
It’s not only the menu, it’s not only the food, but it’s also the entertainment. He wants to encourage diners to think more about how food is processed and how it affects our physical body. For example, he will take the meat and he will inject it at the table with “antibodies.” The antibodies that they’re injecting it with is like an apple sauce. This brings awareness to hormones that many people put into our food that we then casually digest. They will also take fish and they will garnish it with edible plastic to highlight the amount of waste and pollution in the ocean. It is an immersive dining experience.
Where was that place?
It was in Montreal. It was everything. They turn off all the lights.
You had to eat in the dark. You don’t know what you’re eating.
All the servers were blind and you go in. They tell you the map and then you hear things from the servers like, “On your left. On your right.” You know where they’re serving from, but you have to touch your food, you have to feel around. I think somebody in our table spilled their wine. It was an amazing dinner and a great experience.
The clients were happy. It was a good time, probably a little risky, but those immersive dinners and experiences are truly unique. It’s one of those things that will make your trip memorable if you go.
It was great because I had an awareness of what a blind person for the few minutes I ate goes through all the time, every day. It’s extremely difficult. This particular dining experience is about social awareness with the environment and pollution and what they put in the meat. Check it out.
Our next one is if you are down on the water, but you’re cold. There’s a new Nordic wellness place called CopenHot. Their aim is to provide a wilderness experience in an urban setting. It’s great for travelers who want to stay warm in the cooler months when they’re visiting and they have outdoor saunas with panoramic views of the harbors.
They’re down on the water. You’ll see right on the pier, there will be 8, 9 or 10 hot tubs and each one is private. You have to make a reservation 24 hours in advance for that. With the saunas and the hot tubs, no matter what time of year, you can be sitting outside enjoying it. There’s another cool venue. It’s now a dried-up underwater reservoir and now it’s turned into an art exhibition. It’s Cisterns and it’s an old underground water reservoir. It once held 16 million liters of water, it’s now dried up and it serves as an art exhibition. It also hosts various events. It’s another great unique space that you could check out.
Here’s one that you can get 2 for 1 off your bucket list. You can grab a coffee to go at Copenhagen’s smallest cafe, which is also touted as the world’s smallest hotel because it has one bedroom. You’ve got to call ahead for that one. It is located in Vesterbro neighborhood right on the border of Frederiksburg with great streets and restaurants, but definitely a bucket list experience if you’re looking to check off the smallest cafe and also the smallest hotel.
We’re going to go from the smallest to the opulent. The next property that you should definitely check out, even if you go by for one of the many events that they have is the Nimb Hotel in Tivoli Gardens. This is a five-star beautiful Arabian style. It has these rounded peaks that look like you’re watching Aladdin. This is a beautiful Arabian-inspired hotel in the middle of these gorgeous gardens that are world-known and they do cool events. They do an October Fest, dinner concerts, crawfish feast, things like that. If you have the time, check it out, grab a drink there, do something and walk around the gardens. It’s gorgeous.
Upcoming in 2022, the Tour de France will start in Copenhagen. You can bike now because the roads are already mapped out. That’s a great experience if you can give yourself a trial test run of what’s happening on the Tour de France when it goes through Copenhagen. Think about that. It would be a lot of fun and a great way to see the city.
Did you hear The Six Forgotten Giants? They’re large wooden sculptures that are hidden throughout the area and they follow along the present 19-mile route of the Tour de France that is going to be taking place in Copenhagen.
We hosted an event at the Old Stock Exchange that dates back to 1625. It’s classic. It’s one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen and it’s not open to the public but serves as a venue. If you’re doing a private event, it is a great place to do in the city for dinners, conferences and other events. Put that down on your list as well.
I’m going to add one more. Big cities always have these markets, but there is a market in the Meatpacking District. They have all these markets there. You could spend all day walking around the old stalls complete with shops, restaurants and galleries and underground bars. You’ve got to check out the Meatpacking District market. There is still so much to do in Copenhagen. What’s great about it is you could get a bike or walk because all this stuff is in a small space. You’ve got to check it out. Our next guest is Kasper Eich-Romme who is the Cofounder of GoBoat.
Our next guest is the Cofounder of GoBoat, which is a solar-powered sustainable boat rental company. Welcome, Kasper Eich-Romme. How are you?
I’m brilliant. Thanks for letting me in on your show.
Kasper is joining us from Copenhagen. Are you in Copenhagen or somewhere else in Denmark?
I am in Copenhagen.
It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, for sure.
When we pick a city, we look for something cool and different. Especially for a traveler that’s not from Copenhagen, GoBoat is something that is impressive. Copenhagen has always been known as a leader when it comes to sustainability and protecting the environment. GoBoat goes hand in hand with that philosophy. Tell us a little bit about these boats.
Let’s start with the boats. They are sustainable and we started renting them out here in Copenhagen in 2014. From the beginning, it’s been a question of making a boat rental platform that was sustainable, but more as a social project. That’s why we designed the boats with a table in the middle so that people could come together, have a good time while sailing on solar, water and wind energy. That’s the basics of it. The boat is partly built from plastic bottles and recycled PT as well.
Where were you when this idea popped into your head? What was the impetus for this happening?
I told my wife that I went to a summer house nearby Copenhagen to write my final exam paper, but I was going there with a friend to have some wine and we come up with good ideas on what to do in Copenhagen. I’ve always been fond of being on the water and it popped up that it was hard to get a boat or own a boat. It’s expensive. It’s hard to find moorings spots in Copenhagen, lots of other places as well. Here, it was impossible to get on the water and we have so much water in Copenhagen, and it was the perfect idea. I called my wife the morning after and said, “I have this fantastic idea.” She was like, “You were supposed to write your exam.” She hung up, but now she’s happy and she’s working in GoBoat. She sees this as a good thing.
It is, especially in this day and age, sustainability is everywhere. Who designed the boat?
It’s my partner. In GoBoat, we have three partners, Carl and Anders. I knew Carl from high school and when the idea occurred, I called him straight away because he’s an architect with a specialty in Naval Arts. He designed boats. It made sense to contact him. We had a lot of talks about what should this boat be able to do? Why do we want to start it? Everything like that and when we approached people in the beginning and told them, “We’re going to start a boat rental,” they were like, “Why? Another boat rental. That is the most unsexy thing in the world to do.” We had an idea and the idea was basically that it’s more social experiment. It’s about the aesthetics. That’s where Carl comes into the picture because he’s been fond of boats all his life. We wanted to create the perfect environment to sit together in a boat that is simple, easy to navigate and beautiful. That’s the basics of what we want to do.
What would you call the style of the boat? Is there a certain boat that you took it after or is it something completely unique?
Carl is inspired by different boats. It’s some Italian and some Swedish boats that he has been inspired from. Boats are boats so it’s hard to make a completely new look to a boat.
How many people can fit on it?
It fits eight people and there’s a table in the middle of the boat. It’s a light boat but still stable. It’s built for everyone to steer it. It’s easy to navigate because it doesn’t require a license to rent out.
You don’t need any experience to get on this boat?
No. One of our missions is to make water accessible for everyone. Also, people have not tried it before, but to get people to try and feel the freedom, it gives you to be on the water and control your own boat.
How fast can it go? What’s the fastest you can get it up to?
In Copenhagen, we limit the electric engine to go around 3.5 knots.
Nice cruising speed and casual. You can drink some wine and not spill it.
It’s like walking speed, in a way. It’s not about speed. It’s about being together. It’s about safety as well because if you go fast and you’re not experienced, then things could go wrong.
Looking at it, you don’t have a typical captain’s chair with the steering wheel. You are steering it with a hand rudder in the back.
That is true. A lot of people want to have the steering wheel to navigate with, but we like the steering rod because it’s old school and it’s maritime. It gives you a better feeling of the water and it’s easier to navigate.
When you’re renting the boat, how do they rent them and for what time period can they get them?
When people rent boats at GoBoat, it’s an hourly basis. I would say the average is around 2.5 and 3 hours that people rent the boats, but it could vary from a whole day to one hour.
It’s solar-powered but does the solar-power charge a battery and then it’s on a battery at that point? How long do you have before it starts to fade?
That’s also a good thing to clarify since people cannot see the place we are renting out from, but on the roof of our rental building, the roof is completely covered with solar panels. Those solar panels are charging the boats when it’s at the dock. When they are not, we send energy back to the power network. The roof was enough to charge the eight boats that we started out with. Now we have 44 boats at the dock in Copenhagen. That’s not enough. We made a partnership with E.ON, which is Europe’s biggest private-owned electricity company. They provide the rest of the electricity from sustainable sources, which is in Copenhagen mostly wind power.
The route that you take on the boat. I’ve never been to Copenhagen. I’m an international traveler and I find you guys. What direction would you give me if I want to go? Are there places to get food and drinks along the route? Do you have courses planned out, different routes planned out for the guests?
We don’t plan routes for the guests, but we give advice. I think it’s important that when you come to Copenhagen which I hope you will soon, you feel the freedom. We will make some notes. You get a map because if not, you will get lost. That wouldn’t be good. We would give you some advice on your journey and tell you where you could stop to get something to drink, something to eat or whatever, but not too much because you should feel it. The whole concept is that you should leave your iPhone. You should be there and disconnect, connect with the people around you and connect with the city surrounding you.
It is a different city from the water. It’s a completely different experience.
What’s also interesting is that most of our visitors are locals doing it again and again. You get to revisit your own city. It is completely different from the water and it is completely different depending on who you bring in the boat. That’s why we haven’t been hard hit by this Coronavirus because we are not dependent on tourists. We love tourists and we would love to have them, and have more of them, but since it is mainly locals using our boats, in this case, we are lucky.
You started in Denmark, but now you’ve also got locations around the UK, Australia and Sweden. It seems that you’re growing quite quickly.
It’s been a fun adventure. The way we grow is by licensed takers. We provide them with the whole setup. We’ve made our own IT fleet management system. We design and redevelop boats all the time, the brand and everything. Basically, a lot of cities and people riding us every week want the concept, not as much these days, but normally, a lot of people want to have GoBoat to their city. We are still young. We could have opened in 100 or 200 places, but it’s important for us that we do it the right way and with the right people. In this phase, we’ve been chasing the right persons to work with. Luckily, we found them in the partners we have.
You’re also launching seanix. Tell us a little bit about that.
It’s in its early stage. We are doing the prototype, but it’s something a bit different. It is still water-based. In a few words, it is a modular-paced recreational floating system. What we’ve discovered throughout the renting out boats in several years and in different locations is that we have prime locations in some of the best cities in the world. We can only operate the boat rental business for half a year because then it gets cold. We have harbors not only in Copenhagen but also in other places that, to be honest, they’re a bit dead in the winter period. There’s not that much happening. Water is good. People should use the water. We’ve invented the system to explore the water, also in cold times. It is floating modular systems built on its boats, but they can be fitted as saunas, as meeting rooms, as hotels.
Do they move? Do they have an engine on them?
They can have an engine. They can sail because they are certified as boats, but they are made for being plugged in places where they can lie and serve a purpose there.
It sounds novel and such a great idea. People like to be near and on the water at all times. To give them a different type of experience is wonderful. You’re from Copenhagen. In this episode, we’re talking about all things Copenhagen. As a local, can you tell people what are some of your favorite things to do around the city? A restaurant or activity when you’re not working, but I’m sure you’re probably working a lot, but what do you recommend?
There are many good things to recommend. Normally, I don’t recommend the same ever because I think things change rapidly and that’s only great. The whole food scene and what’s happening there in Copenhagen has been extremely inspiring and fantastic and also because you can eat all the time then and try stuff out. To follow that, the last couple of years has been extremely fantastic. If I should recommend something, I would recommend everyone to go to a restaurant called Barr. It’s a traditional Danish food. The last time I went there, I got something called wiener schnitzel. When I got that, I began to cry because it was good.
Food that makes you cry in Copenhagen.
My wife still thinks it’s odd when I start crying about food, but I can’t help it. Definitely go there.
Other than renting a GoBoat, not the norm, where would you say, “You’ve got to go do this. It’s cool. Copenhagen is the only place you can do this?”
It’s something that you might be able to do somewhere else, but the good thing about Copenhagen is that it’s a city that has a lot of diversity, a lot of different people, a lot of things you can do, but it’s centered in a very small geographic area so you can come around. I would say, rent a bike and go around. My wife made a surprise for me and she picked me up in a bike taxi that I hadn’t done it for ages and bought me some drinks and we were strolling around Copenhagen.
You can pick those up on any corner.
That was a great experience. Go around and stop at all the places you should see and go in.
Kasper, we wish you the best of luck with GoBoat. It sounds like a fantastic experience for anybody that comes through Copenhagen. We hope a lot of our readers come and visit you when they’re there.
Where can they find you on social media and keep up with you?
I know you also have GoBoat.dk. That will take you to the website for bookings. Thank you for your time. We appreciate you and best of luck to you.
Thank you. It’s such a pleasure. I hope to see you in real life one day.
It was a pleasure speaking to our guests. Copenhagen is one of my favorite cities. Not only in Europe, but in the world for all the reasons we talked about. If it’s not on your bucket list, I highly recommend it. It’s not only great to go with families and friends, but it’s great for business trips, for conferences and to hold a meeting. Those are all great reasons to go to explore the city. Todd, what was your favorite thing that we talked about because there was so much to choose from?
All those things that we discussed are cool, the parkipelago thing blows me away. The way that people in Copenhagen mix the social awareness, the art, food, and culture is neat. You could walk around and it doesn’t stop.
I think you heard through the entire show about their focus on sustainability as one of the first cities that’s focused on it. A major old city in Europe that has done that. It is part of the culture, not only from the food, but the entertainment to the lifestyle. It has that focus on green living and long-term sustainability for the future of mankind. It’s another reason why I love Copenhagen.
It is proximity to other trips. It’s north of Germany. It’s right over the bridge from Sweden. You could go in almost any direction, go into a different world, extend your trip, and experience something different. One thing I’m curious about doing is getting out of Copenhagen and seeing the rest of what Denmark has to offer, which I’m excited about. It’s definitely a place I will go back to. It’s changed so much since I’ve been there. I’m excited to get back and see the new things that it has to offer.
Special thanks to all of our guests. We appreciate Kasper from GoBoat, as well as Peter Pedersen from Villa Copenhagen.
Be sure that you subscribe, rate and review our show on your preferred app or by going to www.Destination-Everywhere.com. We look forward to speaking with you next time on the next episode.
- Villa Copenhagen
- @VillaCPH – Instagram
- Wonderful Copenhagen
- @RestaurantAlchemist – Instagram
- Copenhagen’s smallest cafe
- Nimb Hotel
- The Six Forgotten Giants
- Old Stock Exchange
- Meatpacking District
- @GoBoatCPH – Instagram
About Peter Pedersen
Peter Pedersen is a danish national who has spent 35 years in the industry starting out in F&B. He traveled the world with GM postings for brands like Radisson, Hilton, Banyan Tree, Intercontinental and Nordic Hotels and Resorts in locations like Stockholm – Sweden, Egypt, Philippines, China, Nigeria, Switzerland, Italy and now Copenhagen. He has done 5 – 5 star hotel openings and after many years with large branded chains it was a great and fulfilling experience to have freedom to shape and create Villa Copenhagen with his team.
About Kasper Eich-Romme
Kasper co-founded GoBoat in 2014. Before starting the company, he was involved in other experience based startups and working with TV and events. His main hobbies are being with friends and family, eating good food, drinking wine, exploring the world, and of course sailing.