A Danish hotel in Copenhagen's trendiest neighbourhood is trendy, yet relaxed.
Hotel insider: First Hotel Skt Petri, Copenhagen
Pleasingly anonymous and un-obsequious, as you would expect from a top Danish hotel. It opened in 2003 as a conversion from a department store, and the burnt orange exterior is more functional than I'd expected. Inside it's a different story, as Danish architect Per Arnoldi's wonderfully fresh main lobby, which you reach via an escalator, shows. It features high ceilings, slick sofas and designer bikes (display only, rental models are downstairs), a rear terrace and a smart brasserie. Although we're early to check in, the front office manager makes sure we are comfortable and hurries the room-cleaning process so we can get in as soon as possible.
The hotel is situated in the best area of town, the Latin Quarter. A five-minute walk from Strøget, Copenhagen's main shopping street, the area developed around the town's medieval university, although most of the buildings are 17th-century. Narrow lanes, second-hand bookstores and small cafes dominate.
There are 268 rooms. Our first, a corner room on the fourth floor, is square shaped, very spacious and has good views over the surrounding rooftops. But the air-conditioning doesn't work and with the windows open we are disturbed at night by street noise. We move the following day to another room on the same floor, where everything works. The room design is not as impressive as the public areas would suggest: the blond wood laminate floors, low ceilings and white walls are IKEA-esque, although quality designer sofas, desks and beds elevate them.
The front desk staff are unusually sophisticated, and helpful. In the hotel's signature restaurant, Brasserie Petri, the breakfast staff are thoughtful and alert to requests despite the hotel being fully booked. At lunchtime, when we order lunch outside on the terrace, the waiter is surly.
The hotel has a high proportion of business travellers, but this doesn't seem to affect the relaxed-yet-trendy scene. Smart suits can be seen having meetings at the first-floor Bar Rouge in early evening; at weekends, it's busy until 2am. Holidaymakers sit alongside businesswomen at breakfast at Brasserie Petri. On the ground floor, Cafe Petri is a smart coffee shop cum French-style bistro with some attractive seating out on the pavement - a brilliant example of a hotel fitting into its neighbourhood.
Breakfast at Brasserie Petri was excellent: an extensive buffet with a great selection of high quality, mostly organic breads, cheeses, yoghurts and fruit, plus a hot selection. At lunchtime, the seared tuna salad (105 Danish kroner; Dh66) was fresh and delicate; the fish and chips (Dkr145; Dh92) was more average.
The area and just being in the hotel. Unlike so many properties, where you feel hounded by staff acting as though you've strayed onto their territory, the atmosphere here is human and personal without being overbearing.
The wireless internet connection was infuriating: the password changed daily, so we were constantly asking for new ones, and what worked downstairs didn't work in the rooms. The gym was being refurbished and there is no pool.
An excellent hotel in a great location.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the First Hotel Skt Petri, Krystalgade 22, Copenhagen (www.firsthotels.com; 0045 33 45 91 00) cost from 876 Dkr (Dh532) per night, including taxes.