Not your typical… anything! – Urban House Copenhagen
A little while back, I received an email inviting me to attend “The Sleepover of the Year” at the newly opened Urban House here in Copenhagen. Quick survey – when’s the last time you went to (or hosted) a sleepover? For me, that’s about a hundred years ago! My first though was, “but I like sleeping in my own bed!”, and the second one something like “but I’m used to really fancy hotels!” [side note: this is a relic from my consulting days, not how I privately travel!]. Luckily, a sudden moment of self-awareness happened and I reminded myself that I am not 60 years old and therefore have no excuse for being a total bore. Also, I had followed Urban House since before their opening, and I was quite impressed with their concept, and when I saw that there were going to be cocktails, I was sold (duh!).
So this week, I packed a little overnight bag (okay, it was larger than I care to admit) and ventured out of my senior citizen comfort zone. I was warmly greeted in the lobby/ bar/ hangout area and led to a table with a bunch of other Copenhagen-based bloggers and Instagrammers (had I know this before, I would’ve waited and extended my list!). Mere seconds later, the first round of cocktails arrived – off to a good start! The whole place is incredibly photogenic and insta-friendly, so within a couple of minutes, the “live wall” next to our table was buzzing with our updates and pictures (you can search Instagram for the hashtag #docopenhagen to find them).
The event included a tour through the house, guided by the hotel manager, where we were shown the different facilities and a couple of different rooms. Afterwards, we were served hot dogs, beer, and more cocktails in the bar area, where we had a chance to discuss and ask questions and just generally take in the atmosphere. Finally, we were all invited to spend the night in one of the rooms, and finish off with a nice breakfast the next morning.
There’s a reason why I titled this post “not your typical… anything”. Urban House is not really a hostel, but not really a hotel either. Generally, categories don’t fit this place very well – which is great, because that is such a perfect match with the neighborhood it’s located in!
About a 15 second walk from the central station, Urban House is located in a side street of the more dubious end of Istedgade, but projects a totally cool vibe, which classes up the shady surroundings. It’s a big ho(s)tel with 220 rooms and a massive social area on the ground floor, which has some classic hostel features such as an open kitchen, a wash room, and common areas with pool tables. However, the service level is much higher than you’d normally expect at a hotel – beds are made, you get towels, all the rooms have en-suite bathrooms with showers, and there’s regular housekeeping. Urban House has partnered with a number of really cool stores and other services in the area, and the house hosts a bike repair shop (where you can also rent bikes) and a tattoo shop (not kidding!). They also partner with New Copenhagen Tours, a free walking tour provider, who have created a special Vesterbro tour for them.
The rooms are the more on the hostel side of things. There are different types – from hotel-like private doubles to hostel-style 10-bed dormitories – but generally, they are all very functionable and practical rather than super-comfy. All rooms have bathrooms with showers, but there are common bathrooms and shower areas as well. The rooms are all self check-in, meaning that you get your room number and a passcode that gives you access to your floor and room. The bathrooms have been fully renovated, and the rooms have been refurnished and been given cool wallpapers. It’s very clear that the rooms are intended for sleeping and storage only – there are no TVs, no mini fridges, no desks etc.
The room I stayed in was spacious and had a bunk bed (I don’t think I’ve slept in a bunk for, like, 10 years – apart from that horrible cabin on the Oslo cruise boat!). Both the room and bathroom were clean and had ample space. It had 4 power outlets at arm’s length from the bottom bunk, and more on the top bunk and in the rest of the room – great for when you have to charge multiple devices! The mattress was quite hard, which I personally love (I hate those soft, “sink-in” hotel mattresses!) but some people might find a bit uncomfortable.
One of the guiding principles at Urban House is the wish to be a part of the local neighborhood. This also becomes clear in the interior design, the choice of furniture and accessories.
Located in hip and trendy Vesterbro, Urban House actually manages to pull off the low-key, sort of hipster vibe, without coming off as pretentious. It works, because it feels real and not artificial. This is in large part owed to the wonderful staff. According to the hotel manager, they were all hired purely based on their personality and attitude, and without ever so much as looking at their CVs. That’s probably not how you want to hire your staff for a five star business hotel, but I think it’s a brilliant approach for what Urban House aims to be. And it works. Everyone was so sweet, fun, and approachable. These are all people I’d love to have a beer with. Of course this might mean that sometimes an order gets mixed up or someone doesn’t immediately know the answer to a question – but Urban House knows that and is very open and honest about it. I should say though that my experience was super smooth.
The heart of the ground floor social area is the big bar and lounge area. There, you’ll find a surprisingly good selection of cocktails, both classics and three signature house cocktails, a bunch of different beers from local microbrewery Ugly Duck, as well as some drafts and soft drinks.
And the cocktails! Did I mention how amazing they are? I especially recommend their house cocktail “Urban Passion”, with passion fruit and vanilla. Tastes like ice cream! They also do a couple of classic cocktails, which they do quite well, too.
The food selection is limited: You can order a hot dog with amazingly scrumptious fries, or a cold tapas plate to share (or eat all on your own). Admittedly, the selection isn’t HUGE. But I’m the first to jump aboard the quality-before-quantity train, and what they do, they do impeccably well. There was CHEESE INSIDE THE SAUSAGE. Need I say more? They even have a vegan option! And one of these bad boys is just DKK 35 (DKK 60 including fries), which is more than fair.
For breakfast, which is normally not included in the room price (as far as I’m aware), there’s a very decent selection of bread, jam, cheese, fresh fruit, juices, and Nespresso coffees. Nespresso is another one of those partnerships that make Urban House really stand out in my opinion. But I’m clearly biased, as I’m a long-standing Nespresso aficionado!
Emphasizing the hostel part of the concept, the ground floor is buzzing with extras. As I mentioned above, there is plenty of space to relax or work with a laptop, there’s a huge screen that shows old movies, there’s a washing room, there are troves of lockers for your valuables, there are pool tables, a pummel horse, and a library. And this carpet, which they designed themselves.
There’s a common kitchen where you can prepare and store your own food. In a brilliant move, they have taken the mini fridges from the previous hotel and stacked them on a big rack on one side of the kitchen – which is practical and looks cool. And, of course, there’s the tattoo store. Yes. A tattoo store, inside the hostel. Completely whacko? Well, this is Vesterbro, so there are probably way weirder things going on just a few streets down.
Finally, there’s a bike shop in the building (separate entrance, below a “gentlemen’s club”, which is just SO VESTERBRO IT HURTS). It’s called ReCycles, and they create the most beautiful bikes from old frames. You can either buy them (they will ship them anywhere in the world) or just rent one for a day or two. They also do repairs for walk-ins from the area.
Dear Urban House, I have to say – I’m a fan! As a local, I probably won’t be sleeping over much, but I’ll definitely be back for another one of those amazing hot dogs and a cocktail alongside of it. I loved the atmosphere, the quirkiness, and the warm and friendly staff. I’m convinced that once all the different amenities are completed and the staff has had a bit more experience, this place will reach its full potential.
This was a free event, I did not pay for the room, the food, or the drinks. Nevertheless, this post reflects my honest opinions.