My wife and I became hoteliers in 2000 after having fulfilled creative and caring professions unrelated to hospitality. In 2000 we started to convert a dilapidated terraced house next to our own house into a luxury 3 suites “Hotel” or Luxury B & B and operated it under the name Haagsche Suites (i.e. Suites of The Hague) until we’d closed it in December, 2013. Currently I am an almost full-time blogger on several blogs, Happy Hotelier and Chair Blog being the closest related to Hotel Design.
Shortly after we closed Haagsche Suites, I’d contacted Patrick Goff who owned a site dedicated to Hoteldesign which also featured Hotel Reviews. I remembered being very proud having Patrick review our. I also remembered saying to my wife when Patrick stayed at our place: “Whenever we stop Haagsche Suites I want to do what Patrick does”. So Patrick and I met and we decided to cooperate in creating hotel reviews. This review is the first. Update: And then the cooperation ended after this one review, because Patrick managed to sell his site. The new owners kicked out many hotelreviews including this one.
You can read more about Patrick in my 10 Questions Interview with him.
Why chose the Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade?
The Wakeup belongs to the categorie hotels with small rooms, affordable, but carefully designed to please the guest and to offer as much luxury as feasible. No bathtub, but a showerstall and a very good bed.
I come from the opposite end of the hotel design spectrum. I believe(d) the guest needs to get as much room as economically feasible in order to feel well. Nevertheless I’ve closely followed the other end of the hotel design spectrum, noticing the market seems to undergo a change towards this idea guests don’t matter how small the room is, as long as its design is up to standard. So I was curious how the chain who owns the Wakeup would tackle this in Copenhagen, one of the top “design” cities, especially furniture design. While writing the review it appeared there are more hotels in this segment in Copenhagen.
In May 2014, when I prepared for a city trip to Copenhagen two things drew my eyes to the new Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade:
- It is very well located in the city center near Kongen Nytorv, Nyhavn, the Danish Royal Palace Amalien Borg, the Danish Design Museum and the city’s main shopping walk Oestergade. Actually its location is better than many of its competitors in the small rooms, but “design” hotel, segment.
- The fact that it is the second Copenhagen Wakeup. That means that the first must be a success which could be repeated.
At the time I visited the Wakeup was approximately 2/3 finished. The 1/3 unfinished is an office building right of it which is being converted. When finished this Wakeup will count approximately 500 rooms.
As I pointed out already, the hotel is nicely located for city hoppers. A plus is it provides for rental city bikes. Copenhagen doesn’t have a cycling plan like Paris for example. Metro station not far away, approximately 15 minutes walking distance. With your own car approach is no problem at all and it is located next to a parking garage which after the building in the basement of which it is located will been completed, will be part of the hotel. The entry to the parking garage is next to the hotel. Ladies traveling alone by car don’t have to be afraid to be bothered while reaching the hotel in the night.
I usually also look at the way the hotel fits in its environment and this Wakeup, designed by Danish architect Kim Utzon, does it nicely with its contrasting dark gray brick as opposed to an adjacent building in red brick. Height is the same as other buildings in the street. The street is wide. Even the rooms in the front don’t suffer from cramped feelings because there is another high building near by.
Entrance and Lobby
The entrance is either through the front using three steps or through a recession in the building to the right of the entrance where a ramp is available for the disabled. To the right of the recession there is a gate to the back of the building which has a small garden and a storage for the bicycles the hotel offers for rent.
When entering the lobby you will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that the lobby, with its ceiling over 5 meter above your head, gives you a sense of entering an ample luxurious space, with some designer chairs draped here and there. Such luxurious feeling is unusual for budget hotels. It is even unusual for some 5 star hotels where you enter and feel as if you will bump your head so low as the ceiling is.
In addition, although from the outset it seems a rectangular building, you’ll be even more surprised by the depth of the lobby you are entering, as the breakfast area is situated in a triangular courtyard inside the triangle the building actually is.
From the main entrance you will find the frontdesk on your right.
On your left hand is a cluster of 6 lifts and beyond that the “Business Center” which basically is an area with cluster of 6 desks with wide screen computers free for use by guests.
I believe the comic sans lettertype indicating the floorlevels is a bit out of place here.
Throughout the hotel there is free WiFi protected by a password. Around the “Business Center” you will find various seating compositions to meet fellow guests or other people.
The brickwork outside has a double function as smokers’ “bench”
Very cleverly the front desk has a double function: They sell drinks (wine and beer included) and some snacks. I find this much more hospitable and personal than those premises with mere vending machines like the Citizen M hotels.
A clever design and security feature is the fact that you are not able to use any lift without using your key card. They even though of programming it so that you can go down from your floor to the ground floor. On the other hand they overdo it if they require the same to go by lift to the basement where the toilets are and require it even from the ones who use the toilets in the basement. I suggest they announce this with bigger signs on or in the lift as it lasted 5 minutes before we understood this and the reception guy forgot to explain this to us.
Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s Swan Chairs for comfortable easy seating anddecoration.
The breakfast room is not open for hotel guests during the day, which amazed me.
This brings me to what I consider a design flaw: The check in desks are located too far from the entrance. In addition they don’t have a good uninterrupted view of the entrance because there are two big pillars in the way. Also there is no way for the receptionists to have a clear view on what happens either in the area where the lifts are clustered or the area where the business center is located or the Breakfast area. In my opinion the Front Desk should have been designed as an Isle opposite the entrance. To cover the entrance and have a better view of the Breakfast area. That would also facilitate acces control for breakfast.
My breakfast issues: Breakfast is not included in the room price. We have not used breakfast, because the Wakeup does not serve cappuccino, nor does it serve warm milk. In my view this is a capital sin against hospitality. Luckily there are plenty of good breakfast cafe’s throughout Copenhagen, so we didn’t suffer, but I noted they used the very expensive professional German WMF coffee machines in the breakfast area and I happen to know that this brand also provides for excellent machines that serve not only ordinary coffee, but also excellent cappuccino or macchiato…. In order to get paid for breakfast they post one employee in front of one set of double doors and he collects the vouchers you have to buy at one of the front desks. However usually there is a lineup in front of the desks. Why in this automated era isn’t it possible to have a vending machine issuiing breakfast vouchers? Or, alternatively why don’t you give entrance to the breakfast room with your keycard and have the keycards in one way or another have a breakfast as an extra? Finally I noted the breakfast room is not available for guests during the day. I really think that is a waste of expensive space.
Two types of Rooms
In general there is one room type of 9 m2. However on the topfloor there are two types. The part on the front that recedes has wider rooms. They are 12 m2. On lower floors there are rooms that have a connecting door that can function as family rooms: Mum and dad in one room and the kids in the other room. I personally do not fancy a double bed against a wall so that I have to crawl over my partner going in or out the bed. It is not so bad as in the CiticenM where you have to crawl over your partner. Here with some gymnastics you can crawl toward the foot part of the bed. In the standard room you will not be able to shuffle away from the bed without touching it and thus waking your partner. In the bigger rooms that is less of a problem. Rooms with a view? Topfloor rooms are a bit more expensive as they are advertized as having a better view. I have a feeling the marketing on the hotel’s site is derived from the other Wakeup hotel. This one’s top floor in the front has no extra view. Maybe a bit more sky. That’s all. However in the back there is more to see. As you can see from the plan there are rooms with a view on the courtyard. Glad to see you won’t look directly into the rooms of another wing.
Enter the standard room. Left a suitcase standard a small desk with chair. Above it the TV screen which is not adjustable thus causing some tension when watching from the bed. The bed itself is fixed to the back of the room an the right wall. The headboard is rounded which gives it a little playful effect. The reading lights offer not enough light and are not adjustable. Fixed so high that you hinder your partner when you want to read. No cupboard. An excellent working silent airco….and you can open your window, which is more than you can do at some pod hotels who simply have no windows.
All in all the design is well thought out (with minor flaws) and creates a nice atmosphere.
And here is my first hotel review video:
Not easy to make a proper video;-)
Post alia: Part of this review was published earlier at the blog Happy Hotelier, but after HotelDesign.blog was created we moved it here.