Great Escapes: Copenhagen’s Cozy, Egalitarian Chic
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Great Escapes: Copenhagen’s Cozy, Egalitarian Chic

By Brent Crane
Mon, Feb 27, 2023 9:18amGrey Clock 4 min

There are many cities often described as “laid-back” that don’t totally warrant it. Copenhagen warrants it.

The description, though, does not suggest laziness. Copenhagen, in fact, is an incredibly active and fit capital. Last summer, it hosted a raucous Pride Week followed a few days later by an Iron Man competition. In the city of around 600,000, the average age is 33.

Indeed, Københavners—as its inhabitants are known—are a cheerful and active bunch. A certain coolness is the overall vibe of the city, a feature that some say stems from the Danish Law of Jante, or a sense of modest egalitarianism. Danes resent ostentatiousness. Combine that with hygge, the cherished Danish virtue of coziness, and you have a society that is friendly and welcoming but not too over the top. In other words, a fitting place for a traveler.

Copenhagen occupies two islands on the Øresund strait, across from Sweden (a bridge leads to the much-less-interesting Malmö.). Founded by Viking fishermen in the 10th century, it did not become Denmark’s capital until five centuries later. Under the Danish monarchy, the city was transformed into the preeminent cultural and economic center of Scandinavia, a position it arguably maintains today.

Since World War II, the Danish economy has extended into high-end services, pharmaceuticals and green energy, to impressive results. At some US$68,000, Denmark’s GNI per capita is the seventh highest in the world and Danes enjoy a high quality of life. Their capital is one of the most financially dynamic in northern Europe. Yet the city strikes a fine balance between pursuing its modern, capitalist aspirations and maintaining its old-world charms.

In the city of around 600,000, the average age is 33. Marten Bjork, Unsplash

STAY

Hotel D’Angleterre is Copenhagen’s premier historic hotel, a regal, white-walled beauty dating back to 1755. Affectionately called “The White Lady on Kongens Nytorv”—the name for the wide, bustling square it overlooks—the hotel was extensively renovated in 2013. Well-equipped with modern amenities and some ninety rooms, D’Angleterre retains its Old French-inspired aesthetic. Elsewhere along Kongens Nytorv, considered the heart of the city, is the Royal Theatre as well as ample shopping, dining, and a stop on Copenhagen’s incredibly efficient metro. The spa and large indoor pool are both splendid.

For a more modern abode, book a room at Nimb, a fairy-tale-esque five-star boutique hotel in Tivoli Gardens, a pleasant amusement park first opened in 1843. Tivoli owns the hotel, which has a private entry into the magnificent park. The spacious, very hygge rooms are chicly decorated with Danish artThere is a superb rooftop terrace bar and pool, which often has live music. Visit the Asian-inspired spa and its steam room for an urban oasis.

EAT & DRINK

Copenhagen’s wonderfully varied culinary scene, which boasts 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, owes its dynamism to noma. The New Nordic superstar, which opened in 2003, has been rated as the best restaurant in the world (it recently announced it would close for regular service in 2024). Numerous noma-trained chefs have since opened their own eateries—the tastiest burger in the city can be found at POPL, whose founder is a noma veteran; Hart Bakery, one of Copenhagen’s most coveted bakeries, was opened by Richard Hart, formerly of both noma and Tartine.

But the noma buzz also infused pride and dynamism into Copenhagen’s dining scene more generally. One standout is Cofoco, a local favorite. The cozy basement spot serves up Mediterranean-inspired Nordic food like shrimp with foamy lobster bisque, pumpkin and yogurt. It’s a great place for a long, chatty meal over bountiful vin.

Restaurant Møntergade, located on the hip and buzzing Møntergade street, is a homey, chic spot with killer Nordic plates. The smoked eel is fantastic. Top-notch Italian pasta can be found at Undici, a casual, light-hearted place with picturesque positioning at the intersection of two cute canals.

Marchal, the signature restaurant on the ground floor of Hotel D’Angleterre, is well-worth a meal. The Michelin-starred spot transforms Nordic delicacies into scrumptious, inventive plates with a French touch. Try the venison with beets, blackberries, pear and pepper sauce. The Nimb Brasserie, inside the Nimb Hotel, is also French and fantastic.

Lovely libations abound in Copenhagen, a city fond of boozy celebration. One stand-out is RUDO, a vermouth bar opened by former noma sous chef and restaurateur, Christian Puglisi. Fiskebaren, a popular seafood restaurant in the Meatpacking District founded by a former noma sommelier, has an excellent wine selection. For beer, pop into one of trendy microbrewery Mikkeller’s many locations. Bright, inventive cocktails can be found at Ruby, which occupies a townhouse dating to 1740.

Tivoli Gardens. Ava Playle, Unsplash

EXPERIENCE

One Copenhagen attraction that cannot be missed is the surprisingly charming Tivoli Gardens. To call it an amusement park perhaps cheapens its appeal—the modestl -sized place is less Six Flags than it is Golden Gate Park. Lovely, verdant grounds are interspersed with rollercoasters, a large performance stage and the most beautiful antique merry-go-round you’ve ever seen. Good restaurants abound, too.

With its bright shophouses, pretty canals, grand buildings, and ancient streets, Copenhagen is an architectural wonder. In 2023, Copenhagen becomes a UNESCO World Capital of Architecture, which means a slate of citywide events. Anytime of the year, though, whether during the idyllic summers or the punishing winters, the best way to take in Copenhagen is on a boat tour. Hey Captain, located on the sunny and buzzing Ofelia Square, provides great guided trips, with comfortable, uncrowded boats and bottled craft beer.

Museum-lovers will find much to admire in Copenhagen. One not to be missed is the Glyptoteket, an art museum in central Copenhagen with a fantastic winter garden and lots of sculptures. The National Gallery of Denmark, also known as SMK, is also well-worth a visit too, featuring mountains of glorious Danish and international works from the past seven centuries (Matisse is on display through February.) Stroll through the nearby King’s Garden, a sprawling and serene park, on the way there.



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A Killer Golf Swing Is a Hot Job Skill Now

Companies are eager to hire strong players who use hybrid work schedules to schmooze clients on the course

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Standout golfers who aren’t quite PGA Tour material now have somewhere else to play professionally: Corporate America.

People who can smash 300-yard drives and sink birdie putts are sought-after hires in finance, consulting, sales and other industries, recruiters say. In the hybrid work era, the business golf outing is back in a big way.

Executive recruiter Shawn Cole says he gets so many requests to find ace golfers that he records candidates’ handicaps, an index based on average number of strokes over par, in the information packets he submits to clients. Golf alone can’t get you a plum job, he says—but not playing could cost you one.

“I know a guy that literally flies around the world in a private jet loaded with French wine, and he golfs and lands hundred-million-dollar deals,” Cole says.

Tee times and networking sessions have long gone hand-in-golf-glove. Despite criticism that doing business on the course undermines diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—and the fact that golf clubs haven’t always been open to women and minorities —people who mix golf and work say the outings are one of the last reprieves from 30-minute calendar blocks

Stars like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie West helped expand participation in the sport. Still, just 22% of golfers are nonwhite and 26% are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

To lure more people, clubs have relaxed rules against mobile-phone use on the course, embracing white-collar professionals who want to entertain clients on the links without disconnecting from the office. It’s no longer taboo to check email from your cart or take a quick call at the halfway turn.

With so much other business conducted virtually, shaking hands on the green and schmoozing over clubhouse beers is now seen as making an extra effort, not slacking off.

Americans played a record 531 million rounds last year. Weekday play has nearly doubled since 2019, with much of the action during business hours , according to research by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom .

“It would’ve been scandalous in 2019 to be having multiple meetings a week on the golf course,” Bloom says. “In 2024, if you’re producing results, no one’s going to see anything wrong with it.”

A financial adviser at a major Wall Street bank who competes on the amateur circuit told me he completes 90% of his tasks by 10 a.m. because he manages long-term investment plans that change infrequently. The rest of his workday often involves golfing with clients and prospects. He’s a member of a private club with a multiyear waiting list, and people jump at the chance to join him on a course they normally can’t access.

There is an art to bringing in business this way. He never initiates shoptalk, telling his playing partners the round is about having fun and getting to know each other. They can’t resist asking about investment strategies by the back nine, he says.

Work hard, play hard

Matt Parziale golfed professionally on minor-league tours for several years, but when his dream of making the big time ended, he had to get a regular job. He became a firefighter, like his dad.

A few years later he won one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, earning spots in the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for first among non-pros.

The brush with celebrity brought introductions to business types that Parziale, 35 years old, says he wouldn’t have met otherwise. One connection led to a job with a large insurance broker. In 2022 he jumped to Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates in Wellesley, Mass., which recognised his golf game as a tool to help win large accounts.

He rescheduled our interview because he was hosting clients at a private club on Cape Cod, and squeezed me in the next morning, before teeing off with a business group in Newport, R.I.

A short time ago, Parziale couldn’t imagine making a living this way. Now he’s the norm in elite amateur golf circles.

“I look around at the guys at the events I play, and they all have these jobs ,” he says.

His boss, Chief Executive Chip Gibson, says Parziale is good at bringing in business because he puts as much effort into building relationships as honing his game. A golf outing is merely an opportunity to build trust that can eventually lead to a deal, and it’s a misconception that people who golf during work hours don’t work hard, he says.

Barry Allison’s single-digit handicap is an asset in his role as a management consultant at Accenture , where he specialises in travel and hospitality. He splits time between Washington, D.C., and The Villages, Fla., a golf mecca that boasts more than 50 courses.

It can be hard to get to know people in distributed work environments, he says. Go golfing and you’ll learn a lot about someone’s temperament—especially after a bad shot.

“If you see a guy snap a club over his knee, you don’t know what he’s going to snap next,” Allison says.

Special access

On a recent afternoon I was a lunch guest at Brae Burn Country Club, a private enclave outside Boston that was the site of U.S. Golf Association championships won by legends like Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. I parked in the second lot because the first one was full—on a Wednesday.

My host was Cullen Onstott, managing director of the Onstott Group executive search firm and a former collegiate golfer at Fairfield University. He explained one reason companies prize excellent golfers is they can put well-practiced swings on autopilot and devote most of their attention to chitchat.

It’s hard to talk with potential customers about their needs and interests when you’re hunting for errant shots in the woods. It’s also challenging if you show off.

The first hole at Brae Burn is a 318-yard par 4 that slopes down, enabling big hitters like Onstott to reach the putting green in a single stroke. But to stay close to his playing partners and keep the conversation flowing, he sometimes hits a shorter shot.

Having an “in” at an exclusive club can make you a catch. Bo Burch, an executive recruiter in North Carolina, says clubs in his region tend to attract members according to their business sectors. One might be chock-full of real-estate investors while another has potential buyers of industrial manufacturing equipment.

Burch looks for candidates who are members of clubs that align with his clients’ industries, though he stresses that business acumen comes first when filling positions.

Tami McQueen, a former Division I tennis player and current chief marketing officer at Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital, signed up for private golf lessons this year. She had noticed colleagues were wearing polos with course logos and bringing their clubs to work. She wanted in.

McQueen joined business associates on the golf course for the first time in March at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has lowered her handicap to a respectable 26 and says her new skill lends a professional edge.

“To be able to say, ‘I can play with you and we can have those business meetings on the course’ definitely opens a lot more doors,” she says.

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