Just 30 minutes north of Copenhagen, surrounded by rolling meadows and atmospheric Scandinavian woodland, is one of Denmark’s most exclusive hotels the Kokkedal Castle (or Slot, to give it it’s full Danish title).
Originally built in the mid-1700s and remodelled over 100 years later, the Kokkedal Castle has passed through the hands of Counts, navel captains and millionaires, before finally becoming a hotel in 2011. Although completely refurbished since then, the Kokkedal retains echoes of its rococo roots and Victorian elegance in its stunning cellar dining room and comfortable drawing rooms. But it’s top of the range spa facilities and remodelled stable block bedrooms are all 21st-century class. The property specialises in weddings, honeymoons and spa breaks, with a host of both outdoor and indoor activities on offer for guests.
And as was clear from our visit, the Kokkedal Castle is not merely a leisure retreat. It is well-known by businessmen both at home and abroad, and has 9(!) spaces available for corporate events, from large conference rooms to small meeting spaces. Indeed, what could be better for business than to meet in such natural (and man-made) splendour.
Although it is this outward splendour that captivates on arrival, it is the warmth of the Kokkedal’s staff that truly captures your heart. When we arrived from the station after night had fallen, with fine festoon lights illuminating the driveway, and flaming lanterns at the foot of the entrance stairs, the Kokkedal certainly looked like something out of a fairy-tale. But this was topped with a welcome from the staff that was warmer and more personable than any I can remember, and simply delightful customer service which continued right through our all-too-brief visit.
With all of this on offer the Kokkedal Castle could not be better placed to make you feel like the king (or queen) of all you survey.
The Kokkedal Castle has 59 rooms and suites spread between the castle itself and the three adjacent lodge houses.
The gorgeous suites within the castle have an almost French-style palatial feel to them, with free-standing claw-foot bathtubs and rococo furnishings (provided by French design company Moissonier). The rooms in the converted stables have a more ‘new-world’ American appeal, very spacious, masculine dark woods and deep armchairs. Many have small private terraces looking out on to the beautiful greenery all around, and the bathrooms all come stocked with Acqua di Parma toiletries.
We were given a large double in one of the lodges, and slept in possibly the biggest bed I’ve ever seen (either in a castle or out of one) – anyone who shares with a starfish-sleeper will be thrilled! A deep, soft mattress and an abundance of squashy pillows – not to mention a very efficient AC system which kept us cosy all night – made for an excellent night’s sleep. And being able to look out over our own snowy terrace to the surrounding trees as the snow fell, felt more than a little Hyggelig (to borrow the Danes most fashionable phrase).
For anyone worried that sleeping outside the castle itself will necessitate a chilly walk to breakfast; there is an underground corridor specially built to get guests from dinner to bed in cosy comfort.
The Castle Cellar Restaurant, in what used to be the properties vaulted cellars, is a candle-lit, intimate delight. Though surprisingly spacious, I got the impression each table felt they were in their own private dining room, thanks to the extremely attentive service and low-level lighting (the Danes more than anyone appreciate the importance of a good candle).
Though the cuisine is very much French-inspired (and certainly the wine list is overwhelmingly so) there are Nordic notes throughout the menu; from our exquisite Gillardeau oysters (DKK 40 a piece) to the tartare of marinated deer with potato and lingonberries (DKK 175). I’m a fan of both Danish and French cooking at the best of times, but following this meal I cannot rhapsodise about their food enough!
My quail stuffed with veal tongue, truffle and morels with potato mousseline, glazed shallots and truffle sauce (DKK 275) was utter heaven on a plate (and I could have eaten the sauce by the bowlful). My companion’s order of ribeye steak with miso, emoki mushrooms, five-spice onions and miso sauce (DKK 325), was almost as delicious (by it was a close-run contest).
Our accompanying glasses of 2015 Michel Magnien Burgundy (DKK 125) and Marciano Abbons, Barolo (DKK 155) were perfect partners. And the passionfruit cremeux with popcorn and vanilla ice-cream (DKK 95) to finish was so tasty I wish we’d ordered two. If this restaurant isn’t already a destination restaurant in its own right, it very soon should be! For summer dining there is also a rather splendid Terrace restaurant, where guests can look out over the surrounding parkland and coastline, though sadly it was closed for the winter when we visited.
The Cellar Restaurant is also the setting for a rather splendid breakfast buffet in the morning; pastries, smoked fish, meats, cheeses, a wealth of fresh fruit and juices, not to mention very generous silver pots of coffee. I was almost too full from the previous evenings’ dinner to try the excellent eggs, bacon and sausage, but thankfully I pushed through (because they were – indeed – excellent).
Out and about:
As mentioned earlier the Kokkedal Castle boasts a gorgeous (not to mention award-winning) spa facility, in case the cold weather makes you want to remain indoors. Space in the spa needs to be booked in advance, but is well worth it. The pool is bigger than many in-house spas I’ve been to and there is plenty of space to relax poolside with a book. Both the steam room and saunas were comfortable and the perfect ambient heat (my travel companion normally can’t stay longer than five minutes in a hot room, but practically fell asleep he was so relaxed in the steam room). Plus, with only so many residents allowed in at any one time, you will never feel crowded; we had the whole place to ourselves when we stayed!
For those looking for something a bit more active there are newly introduced aqua-fitness classes in the spa, or on the grounds you can play golf, croquet, or there are bikes for hire.
We took advantage of the Kokkedal Castle’s extensive grounds – especially lovely in the snow that was falling – where you can go on walks that last several hours or mere minutes. We found ourselves at the beach within 10 minutes and, despite enjoying the snowy beauty all around us, momentarily rued coming in the wintertime.
For those with a car there are a wealth of cultural sites just a short drive away; from the nearby marina in Rungsted (with its many beaches, boutiques and eateries), Fredensborg Palace, Kronborg Castle and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. And of course, the myriad delights of Copenhagen are 30 minutes away either by car or by train.
The worst thing:
The exchange rate! But then that’s Denmark.
The best thing:
Having spent only a short time in Denmark I have noticed that the Danes have a seemingly sunnier side than most (ironic given the average amount of actual sunshine), but the staff at the Kokkedal Castle were the happiest, friendliest, most disarmingly lovely of them all. Whether guiding us (via ordered cabs) from the station after we failed to manage it alone, or chatting over a cocktail after any normal barman would have swept away our empty glasses, the staff here are exceptional. My personal favourites were the restaurant staff, who behaved far more like enthusiastic old acquaintances than servile waiters. Over breakfast one incredible chap even offered to take a food platter to my other half who was still nursing his hangover in our room and wasn’t quite able to make breakfast in person. These fine ladies and gentlemen are the real kings and queens of Kokkedal Castle!
Rooms start at DKK 1725, suites at DKK 6025, Kokkedal Slot Copenhagen, Kokkedal Alle 6, 2970 Horsholm, Denmark, www.kokkedalslotcopenhagen.dk