Malmo & Moss Sleeps: The Danish Hamptons
Prior to July this year, if you had said Tisvideleje to me I would have said bless you. Fast forward 3 months and I still can't pronounce the name of this small village on the Danish coast without sounding like I am gargling mouthwash, but I have found my holiday heaven. The name "Tisvideleje" is derived from "Ti's vælde", meaning a place dedicated to the God Tyr which makes me think that he must be the Danish god of coastal chic. I discovered Tisvildleje after asking Danish instagrammer Kirsten Skovbon where cool Copenhageners liked to go on holiday in Denmark. It turns out this is their Hamptons, tucked away on the North coast of Zealand just 80 minutes on the train from Copenhagen. It takes little bit longer by car but it is a beautifully scenic drive through small towns, woodlands and then the last stretch right by the sea.
Where We Stayed
Obviously ideally I would have been gazing out of the window drinking in the gorgeous nordic scenery listening to a soundtrack of Sigur Ros or something similarly etheral and evocative but being in a car with 3 kids I just had to try and imagine that as Imelda Stanton's Calypso version of A Squash and a Squeeze blared out instead. With Staunton's jaunty acapella rendition still ringing in our ears, we arrived at what was to be our home in the Hygge Hamptons: the Tisjvidleje Strand Hotel.
I had an instant #ClapboardClimax the moment we pulled up outside. The hotel oozed Cape Cod being housed in a gorgeous white clapboard building on a hill with front and back terraces filled with pale bamboo furniture. Inside it was like walking into the pages of Kinfolk with effortlessly stylish designer Danes at every turn. It quickly became apparent that by having a penis but no ponytail Mr Malmo was horribly off message compared to the rest of the male hotel residents. With his short back and side from AJ's Barber Shop he was little bit like Alan Sugar to their Joaquin Cortes at breakfast.
We had an interconnecting family room just off the gorgeous internal courtyard which was my favourite bit of the hotel. It had pale bamboo sofas with huge squishy cushions to lounge on and the whole area was strung with festoon lights and some very swoonworthy rattan pendant lights. The room itself was decorated in simple neutral colours although we did have a very un kinfolk rear view of the back of the kitchen and a fire escape. Am sure that for some trip advisors this would have been a big deal but we were just happy to have two rooms together so we didn't have to spend our evenings playing Scrabble in the toilet so as not to wake the kids.
Breakfast was included in the rate and it was lovely to sit sipping tea in a room lit by twinkling candles in the morning with a simple selection of breads, meats and eggs to choose from. There were lots of young Danish families there and babies are well catered for with very instagram friendly vintage wooden highchairs on offer (although if anyone else has a Highchair Houdini on their hands these are not particularly practical on account of their lack of straps).
Ten minutes down the hill from the hotel was the beach which is overlooked by thatched cottages dotted in behind the dunes with rocky groines leading out to sea. When I was not trying to stop the toddler from eating sand or locating a small lego catwoman my son buried "under a white rock" on a beach of 10,000 white rocks, I enjoyed channelling my inner Saga Noren and gazing out across the sea to Sweden.
5 minutes walk the other way from the hotel was the centre of Tisvilde which is dotted with lovely bakeries, cafes and interiors shops. My favourite cafe was Brod & Vin which bakes Kanelsnegle to die for (pop your elasticated waist trousers on and go and try the chocolate Snegle but be warned there will be no going back to Deliciously Ella's sweet potato brownies after you have opened Pandora's chocolate snegle box). Just across the road from Brod & Vin was also my favourite shop, No 17 Limited, which blended clothes and interiors together in a way that made you want to remortgage your house and buy everything in the shop.
We also loved Sommerhaven which was essentially a coffee hut in somebody's front garden. There was a slide, trampoline and clapboard wendy house so the kids were happy whilst we were getting our caffeine fix. My favourite part was the pallet seating and cool cushion combo that had me rummaging in skips looking for pallets to recreate the look once we got home. They also seemed to have mastered the art of planting raised flower beds with plants that blend well together and flourish rather than our own attempts at home which always end in everything dying except mint which then spreads everywhere faster than a veruca at a swimming pool.
Another one of our favourites was the pizza place near the station called Den Rode Tomat because, if I am honest, whilst I love almost everything about Denmark, there comes a point for me when rye bread and pickled herrings just aren't hitting the spot. At which point I need an injection of melted cheese which this place delivered with knobs on. It serves great, reasonably priced pizza, has a cool bar made out of a shipping container, a lovely outdoor seating area with mini playground too. The place we fell most in love with, however, was the Helene Kilde Hotel.
Helenekilde is located right above the beach in a stunning white house which was originally built as a summer home by a construction magnate called Mr. Grüner for his wife in 1896. Oh to be Mrs Grüner! In 1904 it was converted into a summer and seaside boarding house and then, in 2008, was renovated into the paradise that it is today by former ballet dancer Alexander Kølpin. He also owns the Strand Hotel where we stayed so is clearly a major #DanishHamptonsMogul. It has a gorgeous veranda, outdoor terrace and gardens that stretch down to the sea. When we were there people were preparing for a birthday party winding hundreds of fairy lights into the bushes and hanging photographs from the trees. What I wouldn't have given to be a guest at that party. Inside is just as beautiful as outside with log burners for the winter months and lots of hygge corners to hideaway in.
I am hoping for a lottery win before we next visit so that we can check in. We would probably be a few Kroner closer to that dream if I hadn't discovered Esther's Garage on the road out of Tisvileleje. It is doesn't look like much at first glance but inside it is a complete treasure trove of homeware both contemporary and vintage, all beautifully curated and displayed.
If you want to explore a little further up the coast then I cannot recommend a day trip to Elsinore highly enough and not because I am a #HugeHamletBuff. Bear with me when I say it is, in fact, because of the Maritime Museum. Don' t worry, I am not a secret naval nerd, I don't know my port from my starboard. But you don't have to be interested in boats to enjoy this place. Converted from an old dry dock, the interior is an industrial luxe lovers dream being hewn out of concrete with huge panels of architectural glass. But it is not just the building that is stunning. Everything had been so beautifully curated that at times I forgot I was learning about Danish maritime history and just stood spell bound by huge, scrolling projections of old shipping routes.
It strikes a great balance in appealing to both adults and kids. When we visited, there was a treasure hunt for the boys to do which ended in a lego workshop room where boxes as big as sheds all filled with lego awaited them. If you can tear them away from that lego mega load, then be sure to take in the cafe which is housed in an exposed concrete atrium and will take your breath away.
We returned home from our trip to Tisvildeleje dreaming of owning a cabin on this stretch of coast but alas only Danish residents are able to buy property in Denmark. So, whilst I wait for an answer back fromPeter Schmeichelto my bigamous marriage proposal, I will have to settle for the best Air BnB has to offer instead. I figure this one would do. If you would like to get your hygge on in the Danish Hamptons then read more here.