I spent my formative years in the North-East of England where my only contact with Scandinavia was the Gateshead branch of Ikea and even on trips there I was initially more interested in the mini hotdogs and 50p whippy icecreams than the bleached birch Billy Bookcases, Sodermalm sofas and fabulous faux sage. But somewhere along the way I discovered my inner Agnetha and this North-Eastern girl went Nordic. I began to dream of moving to a Scandinavian country and even went to so far as to take Swedish lessons with Mr Malmo who proved his undying love and devotion to me by spending his Thursday evenings desperately trying to form a Swedish sentence that didn't just sound like he was trying to clear a sticky piece of flem out of his throat. When it became obvious that we would struggle to ask for a Daim bar in a Netto we downgraded the plans to emigrate to frequent holidays there instead. Two Summers ago we went Scandi with the kids for the first time (if you don't count frequent trips to Edmonton Ikea) staying in Copenhagen and then crossing the bridge (yes, The Bridge) to Malmo to stay in the house of one of my all time favourite bloggers My Scandinavian Home. We had a brilliant time so this year, having sired another son (in medieval times I would surely have been given a cow or something by now) we decided to head back to Copenhagen.
Where We Stayed
I am one of life's nervous flyers. I am about as comfortable on a plane as Nigel Farage would be at a Liberal Democrat conference in a vegan cafe. However, it was not my extreme fear of flying that led to our last minute decision to drive rather than fly to Denmark. It was rather the fact that I left it until 2 weeks before the date of departure to book seats by which time return Ryanair flights were about the same price as a small helicopter. But 14 hours with 3 small children crammed into an overpacked Audi were quickly forgotten the moment we stepped inside our Air BnB apartment in Copenhagen. Even with my right eyeball still manically twitching from the 4 large cans of Redbull consumed to keep me awake on the autobahn, I could see that it was the apartment of my Danish dreams.
It is owned by a couple in their early thirties called Signe and Mark who live there with their two young children. They describe themselves in their profile as civil servants and design entrepreneurs causing me to radically re-evaluate my previous stereotypes of civil servants as people who wear short sleeve beige shirts, keep pens in their top pockets and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Common Agricultural Policy.
The apartment is part of a block in which the Danish Prime Minister lived during the second world war. But as you can see it is no gloomy underground Anderson shelter. The main living space is a huge, double reception room with high ceilings and gorgeous sanded original wooden floors. The rest of the rooms lead off that main space and are all painted white creating a beautifully spacious, light and serene feel.
It was a case of love at first sight for the boys as well. However, it was the massive smart enabled TV loaded with car racing games rather than the Dinesen reminiscent floorboards that captured their young hearts. Whilst their new found precious bought us a few uncharacteristic holiday lie-ins, the downside was that anytime we left the apartment to take in some Danish culture at one of the many brilliant museums and galleries Copenhagen has to offer, they had a tendency to ask us at 10 minute intervals when we would be going back to the holiday home to play Nitro Blast.
My favourite part of the apartment was, in contrast, the kitchen. It featured all the modern rustic elements that I love. Rough hewn wood: tick, earthy collections of ceramics: tick, accents of dark metallics: tick. It was a lovely space to sit with a cup of tea flicking through one of their Nordic cookbooks pretending that I am not the kind of person who thinks that rye bread should be reserved for hamsters instead of humans. We tended to eat out at lunchtime and then come back to have dinner at the apartment around the lovely rustic kitchen table having picked up ingredients from the local Meny (the Danish equivalent of Waitrose) on our way home.
There was also a branch of Lagkaghuset next door to Meny so at breakfast time, whilst one of us put the kettle on and stood in the weetabix firing line, the other would pop out to pick up the best cinnamon buns I have ever tasted (and believe me when I say I have tasted a lot!). It is a chain so you can find branches all over Copenhagen should you need a cinnamon top up at any time during the day. I guess they are the Danish equivalent of Greggs but with polished concrete floors, pale wood, twinkling candles and handsome bakery assistants called Lars.
In the evenings once we had the kids in bed we would light some candles in the kitchen (when I say we I obviously mean me as there is about the same chance of Mr Malmo independently lighting a candle as there is him suggesting we sit down to watch a Vicar of Dibley boxset) pour a glass of wine and make plans for the next day together. One of my favourite features of the kitchen was the black pendant lights hung at different heights over the table and worktops, they added a little bit of edge to all the natural textures and got me thinking about changing up our kitchen lights at home.
The kitchen looked out over a gorgeous internal courtyard which was a lovely spot to sit in the sun, watching the boys play with toys shared by all of the apartments with the Danes not being territorial over their tiny tikes. When we visited in late July there were mounds of hydrangeas in whites and pinks in full bloom to enjoy.
There were 3 bedrooms. The master bedroom was a beautiful tranquil space as it was flooded with light from the two big windows which looked out over the quiet street and a small park. The only blot on the bedroom landscape was that the bed had, as is the Scandi way, two separate single duvets on the bed rather than one double. I am not sure if this is because Danish men are chronic duvet stealers so the divorce rate is kept low by everyone having their own duvet, but I found that it meant that I frequently woke up in the night to find that Mr Malmo had rolled off with both duvets leaving me exposed to the Danish indoor elements.
Although the other two bedrooms were used as kids bedrooms, one had a double bed in and could easily have been used as an adult bedroom if you didn't mind waking up with the squad of FC Copenhagen (on the wall rather than in your bed that is unless you had enjoyed a particularly wild night on the Aquavit.) The other bedroom had a small cabin bed in and the only adult it would be suitable for would be wee Jimmy Krankie. Although the bathroom didn't have a bath it had a huge walk-in shower which was perfect for hosing down three mucky boys at the end of every day.
The Local Area
The apartment is located in the Østerbro neighbourhood and is about 15 mins walk from the City centre. It is known as the old wealthy neighbourhood in Copenhagen with lots of beautiful old architecture, broad shopping streets and leafy squares with cafes and shops. Whilst it is definitely not as hip and trendy an area as say Norreborre or Vesterbro, it is super family friendly so will work well if it is first class playgrounds rather than pulsing nightclubs you are after. If your kids are good at walking without claiming their leg batteries have run out, then take a stroll down to the lakes where there are some great restaurants and a section of townhouses so drool worthy that you will be wondering if having watched every episode of the Killing, Borgen and The Bridge will be enough to qualify you for Danish citizenship post Brexit.
2 minutes walk from the apartment was Faelled Park which our kids completely loved. It has an adventure playground, outdoor trampoline park, beach volleyball courts, football pitches, a mini traffic roadway system, a play equipment recreation of the Danish equivalent of Buckingham Palace and vast expanses of green open space. The home stadium of FC Copenhagen also borders the park if you have football fans in the family. Mr Malmo took our eldest son to see a match, buying tickets on the day that cost less than £30 for both of them.
Make sure you tune into the blog this Autumn when I will be sharing more Malmo & Moss tips on where to eat, shop and entertain kids in Copenhagen (when you can prise them away from Nitro Blast that is) and how Danish design has influenced my interiors style at home.