Denmark's capital city Copenhagen, on the country's eastern coast, is a juxtaposition of Old World European charm and sleek, contemporary lines. And in this centuries-old Danish epicenter of innovation, a number of new hotels are pushing the envelope on architectural design, where environmental sustainability is the cornerstone of perfection. Last week, in town to attend VisitDenmark's MINDevent 2013 (visitdenmark.com), the Hotel Insider got the chance to visit a few of these extraordinary properties.
At the 486-room Hotel Scandic Copenhagen (scandichotels.com) in the city's center, cool elegance is the vibe. The reception desk, with its backdrop wall of enormous Audrey Hepburn-like eyes on a white rippled background, looks like a giant art installation. As whimsical as this newcomer appears, don't be fooled -- it's operations are rooted in hard-core green measures, which parent company Scandic Hotels adopted almost 10 years ago as part of its corporate creed. Yes, there's bottled water, but the bottle is designed by Swedish Olympic swimmer Therese Alshammar and made from hand-blown recycled glass. A percentage of every bottle sold is donated to the Scandic Sustainability Fund, which supports sustainable initiatives. And don't be surprised if you see a waiter clear a table and pour the leftover carafe water on a nearby plant. The staff has been instructed not to waste a drop of the planet's precious resource.
For sheer jaw-dropping curb appeal, the award goes to the ultramodern 812-room Bell Sky Comwell (bellaskycomwell.dk), whose two angled blue and white towers are connected by a skybridge providing spectacular views of the surrounding area, which is dotted with wind turbines. The hotel is part of Bella Center, a conference facility that can house up to 15,000 attendees for events. The real environmental muscle in this aesthetic hotel, though, is its stunning vertical gardens, which soar from the lobby to the second-floor restaurant and house more than 6,000 plants from more than a three dozen species. According to management, the living wall works double duty purifying by the hotel's air quality and offsetting its overall carbon imprint.
If the 366-room Crowne Plaza Copenhagen is any indication of what the InterContinental Hotel Group means by this brand's repositioning, which it announced in 2011, I say bring it on. The hotel's annual energy-saving measures, which include solar panels, water savings and biodegradable amenities, amount to the equivalent of the energy consumption of 20 Danish households. Unique to this stylish property's meeting facilities is its Social Media Lounge, which features a Twitter wall and live-streaming that allows meetings to reach a wider audience beyond the meeting room. Whoever says innovative design and sustainability initiatives are antithetical obviously hasn't met the Danes.