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Meet the luxury hotel expert: Peter Høgh Pedersen of Villa Copenhagen, Denmark

By Ina Yulo Stuve on 5th May 2020

Villa Copenhagen prides itself on being a hotel unlike any other. The design hotel, set to open this summer, sits in Copenhagen’s central neighbourhood near the famous Tivoli Gardens. The idea of conscious luxury builds the foundation of everything that Villa Copenhagen stands for.

“It’s about giving guests an experience in a 5* service environment where we encourage everyone, including our guests, to make the right sustainable choices at every opportunity,” says Peter Høgh Pedersen, general manager at Villa Copenhagen. “‘Villa’ underlines the atmosphere of something residential, homely, and intimate, and the intention was to create rooms that reflect exactly that-a timeless design replicating a high-end classical apartment in a nice corner of Copenhagen,” he adds.

Pedersen explains how the hotel’s location artfully combines the rough and hip Vesterbro area whilst allowing guests the opportunity to stay in a re-imagined Central Post and Telegraph Head office built in 1912. With 390 rooms, an outdoor 25-metre lap pool (heated with excess heat from the hotel’s cooling system), and conscious amenities (no flimsy, straight-to-the-bin bedroom slippers here), guest can look forward to an experience that is one-of-a-kind and genuinely sustainable.

Luxury travel writer Ina Yulo speaks with Pedersen about the upcoming opening and all the things that makes Villa Copenhagen a hotel to watch.

Villa Copenhagen is located in a historic building that was once home to the Danish Post and Telegraph office

Despite the beautiful scenery and high standard of living, Scandinavia has only recently jumped into the luxury travel market. Why do you think that is?

Luxury travel is mostly related to high operational costs and they are very high in Scandinavia-payroll, etc. Showing wealth has never been socially accepted here and in Scandinavia we find luxury in different things: time, design, genuine materials, authenticity and so on. We have based the Villa Copenhagen concept around conscious luxury and we want to redefine the original perception of luxury in a manner that is better for the world.

If we asked your ten-year-old self what you would be doing at this age, what would you have answered?

It all started with a passion for cooking at a very young age. At that age I would have said chef!

You’ve lived in many different countries around the world. What are some of the biggest learnings you took from each of them?

Being a “guest” in a different country teaches you to be humble and open your mind towards all different walks of life, cultures, religions, foods and so forth. You can get used to a lot of different things and learn to live and appreciate what you have around you. It also really makes you appreciate where you come from. Any explorer who plans longer stays in one place should be patient and not run away after the first little incident that they don’t like—as I said we are, in general, very adaptable and learn to appreciate things.

Why was it so important for the Villa Copenhagen team to be a green leader in sustainability?

First of all, from a moral perspective it’s really the only way to go these days, and being in Denmark and Copenhagen, we are really in the epicentre of green living, sustainable research, and awareness.

Local clients demand that you have a clear sustainable policy and almost more importantly, our employees want to work in a place where it is obvious that the employer is taking responsibility and where employees can contribute to the sustainable cause themselves. Employer branding today is all about involving your team in developing and living by the sustainable development goals.

Rooms are designed to reflect a high-end classical apartment in a nice corner of Copenhagen

What does conscious luxury mean to you?

Sustainable, authentic, local and genuine partners, and produce are key to our concept of conscious luxury moving forward. This will be reflected in everything we offer at Villa Copenhagen and also the experiences we suggest our guests explore in the local area.

“Less is more” is an old phrase that perfectly describes what we want to achieve in our strict approach to no plastic mineral water bottles or single-use items, and many more unnecessary and unsustainable items that you often see in hotel guest rooms. We provide elegant carafes and glasses in all rooms and there are no single-use slippers to encourage our guests to taste our pure tap water straight from a glass and walk barefoot across the oak parquet floors.

In your opinion, what makes Villa Copenhagen different from any other hotel in the city?

It’s hard not to brag here – the entire building, unique concepts, and innovative design used for this project are unlike anything the city has seen before on this scale. It is one thing to tailor a 30 room boutique hotel with touches of design, original art, and furnishings, but it is an entirely different story to create this on a scale of 25000 sqm and 390 rooms! We intend for Villa Copenhagen to assume the role of a destination and ‘city square’ within Copenhagen, inviting locals and guests alike to play an active role in solidifying our identity.

We are challenging conventional travel habits and 5* expectations in a bid to refuse a “one size fits all” model. For instance, self and mobile check-in is certainly not for the budget segment only – we believe it is a requirement from the frequent and forward-thinking traveller and it is the personalised service of today that we want to adopt. We also don’t train our team with a manual but rather allow and encourage them to show their individual personalities – this is what Copenhagen is all about.

Diners at Villa Copenhagen will enjoy a menu that incorporates Scandinavian and world cuisine

What are some of the dishes and cocktails from the hotel’s restaurants and bars that guests should not miss?

We are not really into “signature dishes”, instead we plan to follow the local seasons and add a unique mix of flavours from Southern Europe and Northern Africa – and Scandinavia of course.

The wine list is predominantly European – as it makes sense to drink great wines that can be sourced with a conscious view to transportation and production. Signature cocktails will have names after iconic vintage stamps from the history of the Central Post Office Building – again here local and seasonal produce will be combined with the mindset of our international bartenders.

Design plays a big role in the Villa Copenhagen identity. Can you talk me through the thought process that went into this?

The design inspirations have been sourced from Copenhagen and trendy design capitals of the world including London, Berlin, and New York, and although there are hints that are visible from the era of the Central Post Office building, it’s now taken on a new identity as Villa Copenhagen.

We have three significant and brand-defining values: contrast, conscious luxury, and happiness. Contrast allows and suggests that we explore different designs, directions, colours and moods. Conscious luxury ensures that we keep all designs timeless and sustainable and allows for a boutique hotel approach to rooms and suites. Happiness is the result of it all and the emotions we see reflected in the team that operates Villa Copenhagen and our guests, of course.

The scope for the designers were based on the above values and, in general, the feelings and activities we wanted to define Villa Copenhagen—a destination for everyone who wants to stay, eat, drink, shop, and even passers-by wanting to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of this spectacular house.

The idea of conscious luxury builds the foundation of everything that Villa Copenhagen stands for

With the current challenges surrounding COVID-19, how are you continuing to engage with your future guests?

We continue to focus on authentic storytelling across our social media channels. We share images, sneak peeks of different areas around Villa, and are introducing different partnerships and brand collaborations to ensure we are staying relevant and engaging our future guests.

What would your idea of a perfect 24 hours in Copenhagen look like?

Firstly, I would make sure I have a bike and I’m wearing a good pair of sneakers to prepare for plenty of walking! Another fantastic mode of transport in the city is to become a captain of your own solar-powered picnic boat with GoBoat. My boating adventure would incorporate a morning visit to the redeveloped harbour front area, which provides an interesting contrasting display of historical buildings and modern architecture and art to give a real sense of the city’s architectural diversity.

For lunch, I would sample a traditional Danish smørrebrød at one of my favourite authentic lunch spots Sakt Annæ, before hopping on my bike to explore the Refshaleøen via Christianshavn before passing Villa Copenhagen en route to Vesterbro and the meatpacking district. Here I would stop off at Mikkeller—our local beer supplier—for a thirst-quenching sample and to watch them making the hand-crafted chocolates we have in our minibars. My afternoon cycle would continue to take me through the Vesterbro district via Istedgade and then will continue to the Nørrebro quarter before making my way back to the hotel along the scenic lakes.

My evening plans would include an aperitif cocktail at T37 bar followed by a three-course dinner at Kontrast—both at Villa Copenhagen—before perhaps venturing out for a nightcap in the nearby meatpacking district.

As I am a conscious traveller I also have a 24-hour train and metro ticket to take me back to the airport on a direct train from the doorsteps of Villa Copenhagen.

Factbox

Villa Copenhagen is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts .

Address: Tietgensgade 35-39, 1704 København, Denmark
Phone: +45 27 83 69 10
Website: villacopenhagen.com