While most of my working week is spent writing about tailoring, nice chairs, hats and degustation menus, I am commissioned to write boring stuff sometimes. I interviewed Christoph Hoffman last year, the CEO of the 25hours Hotel brand, a company expanding at a dizzying rate. It was for a business magazine story about company leaders who are changing the way their industry works. So, in Christoph’s case, my brief was to look at how he is redefining the concept of hotels. “Redefining” is one of those copywriting bingo words that are generally meaningless. I can’t think of any brand that has actually “redefined luxury”, apart from making their product more expensive while simultaneously lowering its quality, and then making customers queue for it. I’d call it “trolling” more than “redefining”.
Once you’ve got your key for your room, you take the lift upstairs and realise quickly that this is a hotel that could compete with The Overlook for scale and bewildering hallways
My experience of the 25hours in Copenhagen confirms that everything you’d expect from a hotel experience is there, and… defined. It’s a hotel, where you check in, you drink, eat, and sleep. But then Christoph’s mission is, as he says, to “surprise and stimulate”, and create somewhere unique to each location. (He’s also big on solid employment practices, sustainability, fair trade ingredients, and all manner of othe less visible but hugely admirable aspects of a hotel). He isn’t reinventing the wheel. Just giving it a glow up.
Was I surprised? Well, yes. There was a mirror in the bedroom with a magnified disc inset that makes for interesting reflections and I spent 10 minutes photographing myself in it. I was also surprised by a twist on the traditional chocolate-on-pillow. On my bed (two single duvets – LOVE the Danish!) there were two double caramel chocolate mallows by local chocolatier Emma Bülow and her The Mallows brand. Artisanal organic marshmallows seem so totally Danish, and I was so taken by them I went to the food hall of Magasin du Nord and spent €100 on boxes to take home. All these are small things, but count. God doesn’t exist, but if he did, he’d be in the details.
25hours Hotel Indre By has been, as you may expect, highly designed. You enter the building via the cobbles outside Trinitatis Kirke, the landmark Lutheran church. It looks like you’re going into a relatively small, chic, northern European hotel. But to reach the reception, you have to pass through the circular bar and atrium, and head to the other side of the building. It’s a strange dynamic. Once you’ve got your key for your room, you take the lift upstairs and realise quickly that this is a hotel that could compete with The Overlook for scale and bewildering hallways. It’s VAST. I became constantly lost, and repeatedly played a game with my husband where we ran in different directions around the corridors to see who would get to the lift first. When I left to go out one evening, I spent ages circling the block trying to work out the precise footprint of the architecture. The hotel appears to have annexed multiple buildings. This is smart. This is profit margin. If they can do this, with elan, in each city, in a unique style, they’ll be the W of the 2020s.
The elevator pitch of 25hours is in telling a story unique to each hotel, and city. The Copenhagen property is in an old university, so academia is the tale. There’s a whirlwind sculpture of books in the reception, a desk full of typewriters which you are invited to write letters home on, and maps and blackboard-style scrawls on the walls of the bedrooms. The theme isn’t overwhelming, although the colour scheme often is, but all the better for it. It’s genuinely surprising, so – full points there. I love the pistachio and yellow elements of the bedroom, and the giant bathroom that’s next to the restaurant on the ground floor and which is, again, straight out of The Shining, with a row of multicoloured sinks and floor to ceiling orange and yellow tiles, and monochrome floor ceramics, all lit with rounded glamour-mirror bulbs. It’s a unisex toilet, which made me sad that so many Mein Kampf-quoting TERFs will never know its loveliness. But then also – serves them right. Hey ho. When I came back mid-meal from a visit, I gushed to my husband: “You MUST go to the toilet… no, now!”
It was the highlight of dinner at NENI, which isn’t to say to the food wasn’t good, but in a city like Copenhagen the bar is set incredibly high. We had been to Barr for dinner the night before and had one of the meals of my life. NENI is casual, buzzy, with a Levant-slanted menu and a few Austrian touches. It is pretty, has nice booths, and despite being where you get breakfast, absolutely doesn’t suffer from Breakfast Room Syndrome. The popcorn falafel is heaven, and the hummus and pita beyond heaven. You know when you get REALLY good hummus and pita? It’s that. There’s just nothing better. There’s a chicken shawarma, grilled octopus, and lots of veggie dishes with aubergine and beetroot. All very a la mode. I’d definitely dine here again, whether staying upstairs or not.
There are little rooms on the ground floor where you can lounge around on cushions and play music, and a gift shop that you’d actually buy things from. There’s a posh little tearoom reminiscent of classic Viennese caffes, and a cocktail bar – The Boilerman – in the basement (which closes at midnight, a little early I’d say) and which serves a “sappy highball” with vodka and passion fruit liqueur called “Salty Doggy Style”. I choose not to order such a thing by name, but it was delicious. Perhaps the cocktail’s moniker is intended to come under the category of “surprising”. I certainly commented on it before ordering by gesticulating at the menu, sank two of them, then went to navigate the endless corridors back to my room. C
25hours Hotel Indre By, Pilestræde 65, 1112 Copenhagen, Denmark
+45 70 77 07 07; 25hours-hotels.com