It was sometime around Christmas in 2010, and Else Marie Remmen, a spirited grandmother-like figure with a thick Danish accent and a short bobbed coiffure, was passing by the iconic Hotel d’Angleterre, on Copenhagen’s Kongens Nytorv main square. Suddenly she felt the old building calling her. “I don’t know how to explain it,” Else Marie says. “I went straight home, and I managed to convince my husband, Henning, that d’Angleterre was crying out for our help.”
The Remmens, hoteliers by trade, were in no way unfamiliar with d’Angleterre. In 1993 they had bought the property, which, throughout most of its 260-year history, had been a luxurious point of pride for the city. In 2007, though, Henning fell ill, and the couple decided to sell their three hotels (d’Angleterre and two others in Copenhagen) so that Else Marie could dedicate her time to her husband. But on that Christmas day, Else Marie’s enduring affection for the hotel bubbled over—“I have always had very strong feelings for d’Angleterre,” she says—and she wanted it back.
Soon thereafter, the Remmens repurchased the hotel in a private sale. However, Else Marie remained unsatisfied. “The hotel was tired. Worn out. Beneath her dignity,” she says. “I wanted to restore d’Angleterre’s former grandeur.” So the Remmens shuttered the property in May 2011 to embark upon a two-year renovation in excess of $70 million—the most ambitious hotel redo in Denmark’s history—that involved taking the building down to its skeleton and starting over. (Henning passed before the project was finished, in November 2012.)
Preserving original design details was a priority. The three-bedroom Royal Suite’s stucco ceiling had a cherub motif, which was gently restored by experts from the National Museum of Denmark, in Copenhagen. The lobby’s gold dome, with its rosette ornaments, was rehabbed and polished. During the overhaul, a hidden balcony in the Palm Court, a 100-year-old ballroom featuring Europe’s largest glass mosaic roof, was discovered, so it was reestablished, as was the main staircase, which at some point had been moved from the central part of the hotel. A cartouche with the United Kingdom’s royal coat of arms (paying homage to the hotel’s English roots) was remade based on archival photos and now crowns the hotel’s facade, which was painted from a creamy white to a gray white.
Some aspects of the hotel were completely reimagined, such as Balthazar, the new Champagne bar, which complements the hotel’s Marchal restaurant. The Balthazar space used to house the staff ’s changing rooms, and now it’s one of Copenhagen’s most fashionable, vibrant, and beautiful bars, with 16-foot-tall windows, stone flooring, wooden paneling, antique mirrors, and velvet furniture. Else Marie herself took the reins on the hotel’s interior design, which is, in a word, stunning, with calm colors (purples, blues, grays, creams), gilded paneling, plush carpeting, and gold chandeliers.
Art plays a big role in setting the mood. For example, in the lobby, there is an original Winterhalter oil painting of the young Queen Victoria hanging in a big gilt frame. Above the reception desk is what one might call the anti-Winterhalter: a limited-edition Andy Warhol silk-screened portrait of Queen Margrethe II, of Denmark, with a diamond-dust sheen. “Somehow those two pictures together are a symbol of the design idea of the entire hotel,” Else Marie says. The original 123 guest rooms and suites have been consolidated down to 90, and no two are alike. Room 411 is a particular favorite. It’s a corner suite facing east and south with a balcony from which guests can see the picturesque Nyhavn waterfront district to the east and the Royal Danish Theater to the south. It’s laid out like a real home, with an entrance, living room, bedroom, walk-in closet, bathroom, and guest powder room. And the flowers! Upon its reopening in May 2013, the hotel established a tradition of decorating with wonderful floral arrangements, aligned with the season and always fresh. Else Marie says that she thinks “flowers are a symbol of hospitality and generosity,” the latter being the perfect way to describe what the Remmens have given Copenhagen’s great, old grand hotel.
Rooms start at $395; 34 Kongens Nytorv; 45-3/312-0095; dangleterre.dk.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Hotel d’Angleterre