Thursday 12th January, 2017 – Copenhagen, Day 4
British Airways while I was away introduced their new “improved” cabin service. Now while I will grant that the ham and cheese croissant I was offered on the way out was a long way from gourmet food, it was at least included in the price of my flight, along with coffee and a glass of water. On the way back I had the option of handing over money for the improved service, which is apparently what BA customers want. Now I don’t recall anyone asking me, but as BA now seem to be going down the budget airlines route I’m beginning to wonder if there’s any point in flying with them anymore. And the prices for these wonderful new foods sold in conjunction with M&S seem to me to be somewhat optimistic. A KitKat is £1.20. Now the local newsagent round the corner from my office will sell me exactly the same item for £0.85, and my local petrol station currently has them at two for £1.00 so someone’s making a tidy profit on the deal, and it isn’t the passengers! £2.30 for a cup of instant coffee is pretty unreasonable to my way of thinking too, so no, BA, you won’t be making any money on the deal where I’m concerned. I made up two ham and cheese rolls from my room service breakfast, added in the boiled egg that came with it, and spent around £0.60 on a bottle of water at the airport and that was my in-flight catering thank you very much!
As regards the hotel (Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel) I had the usual issues that most hotels give me, which is the rooms are too hot if you keep the windows closed, and too noisy if you try to sleep with them open. And as for the joker who arrived at around 04:45 every morning to make a delivery in one of those lorries or vans that beep incessantly in warning when you reverse them, he’s damn lucky I was on the 23rd floor and couldn’t get to him. Every. Single. Morning. For 10 minutes or so… Having got up at 03:50 on Monday to get to the airport on time I could have used a good night’s sleep, but pretty much didn’t get one until the third night where I was just so tired I doubt I’d have noticed if he’d actually driven the thing into my room!
As to the room itself, it was OK. It’s just that the hotel seems to be a little tired. For example the carpet in my room was stained, just small spots but a lot of them. The coffee table, a white Formica topped object, had clearly been scribbled on by a small child with a Biro at some point in its existence, and while the main of it had been cleaned up, the marks remained. The two coffee mugs both had chips out of them. The kettle wouldn’t switch off automatically anymore. Little things but they all add up. It’s a shame because the staff I dealt with were unfailingly charming, helpful and willing, with a notable exception which I will get to later! It’s also within a stone’s throw of the office and a 10 minute walk to the city centre, so it has its pluses as well.
I’d like it better also if it had more facilities. There’s a gym and a spa but no pool, and my room was described as having a view. It did, but I was on the wrong side to see the old town, instead looking towards the airport and some industrial sites. I’m requesting an even-numbered room next time…
As for the F&B offerings, I’d have liked more coffee sachets, and better choices of tea, though I can’t fault the room service breakfast that I ordered on my last morning. My reasoning was it was my birthday, I didn’t feel like going downstairs at that stage, and I wanted to take my time. The tray that arrived had me questioning whether it was for two people and I’d got the wrong one.
On the tray were 2 strawberry yogurts, a massive pot of coffee and a jug of hot milk, cold meats, cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, sausages (6 of them!), bacon, scrambled egg, a boiled egg, bacon and a piece of hot salmon. There were also jams, honey and a bag of two sweet pastries, two rolls and a croissant. I ate some of it, packed some of it up and drank the coffee feeling slightly boggled at the amount of food, especially given the claim on the room service menu that they try to avoid waste. Right…
I also tried out two of the three hotel restaurants, starting with the Blue Elephant on Monday night. It’s an outpost of a Thai chain that also has branches in London and Brussels, both of which I have sampled in the past. The service veered between shaky and downright useless this time out, though the food was tasty enough. I had a mixed starter which was huge and seemed to include pretty much every individual item on the starter section of the menu, and then duck with noodles.
Whereas the starters were excellent, perfectly cooked, the duck was overcooked and bordering on dry.
It didn’t help that the waitress, apparently in her first week working there, was so clueless that she came back three times to check my order! Also when she delivered the starters she was completely unable to explain what any of them were, or which of the sauces belonged with which. It was good job I worked it out for myself.
She also didn’t even try to tell me what was in the appetiser, so it’s probably just as well I’m not allergic to any foods, and I’m not vegetarian or vegan either!
A suggestion to management. Invest in some training please! Additionally I was after a half bottle of wine, but they didn’t have the one I wanted, and were trying to sell me a bottle of Chardonnay. The maitre d also wouldn’t let me buy a bottle of Gewutrztraminer, claiming not everyone likes it (yes, but I do) and I ended up with an alternative full bottle because by then I was losing the will to continue arguing. I was tired and wanted my dinner and my bed in about that order. It also took me three attempts and 20 minutes to get my bill. Oh and I really don’t think handing out a specials menu that is tattered and torn around the edges and has grease marks all over it does you any favours either, especially when you’re charging substantial amounts for the dishes on it. Will I go in there again? I doubt it, even if I am staying in the hotel again for most of February. There’s a Thai restaurant up the road near the office. I think I’ll do better there. I can’t imagine I’ll do worse.
I’ll give Kyoto, the Japanese restaurant, more credit for its service, though I really didn’t appreciate being whizzed through 2 courses in slightly under an hour, and it’s way tooo brightly lit in there as well. That said the seafood salad starter was lovely, very fresh and crisp, though it only had two types of seafood in it, mackerel and salmon, as far as I could tell. The little appetizer tray was a nice touch though again I’d have liked a brief explanation of what was on it, apart from the edamame which I identified myself. The eel served on rice was good enough if a bit overcooked, and I’ve had better at Akasaka, although I did enjoy the small bowl of miso soup that came with it. Strangely I was able to get a half bottle of wine with no trouble, and unlike the Blue Elephant I also wasn’t charged 15dkk for a jug of tap water either!
That just leaves the Busstop bar, where I found the staff to again be very friendly, although it hurt to pay 75dkk for a small glass of cava. I know bars in London where it costs 2/3rds of that and you could at least expect a portion of nuts or olives or something thrown in. However, Denmark isn’t a cheap country, as I know, so it could have been worse.
On the final night the team I am now part of went out for a team dinner at Cafe Alma. is close to the office, and apparently featured on a TV programme my London-based colleague had seen recently. As a result he asked if we could go. It’s obviously a very old established building which used to be some sort of shop, but is now a restaurant and bar based in the many small rooms that make up the basement level of the building. We were a party of 8 and pretty much had one of the rooms to ourselves. We’d had to pre-order because there were more than 6 of us, and apart from me everyone had gone for mains and a dessert. I had a starter and main, and so was presented with three prawns and some aioli-type mayonnaise. They were tasty enough although the prawns had obviously been frozen, and had then been slightly overcooked so they were a little tough.
The same could be said of the duck, with came as a small slice of breast that had been pan-fried and was sitting on a kale, orange and pomegranate salad, and a deep-fried breadcrumbed ball of pulled duck sitting on a puddle of truffled mayonnaise. There was also a sauce and a slab of Pommes Anna, which I would have liked better if the potatoes had been peeled. The duck breast was also little over-cooked to my way of thinking and the pulled duck ball was without question the best bit.
It was a perfectly adequately cooked meal for an average restaurant but despite the warm, candlelit atmosphere and the enthusiastic service, I’ll probably not be going there again off my own bat. We had a fun time, and drank a couple of decent bottles of French red, and the bread was terrific, but it didn’t quite hit my picky standards.
On the final morning I managed a third walk around the town, this time in daylight, which helped with taking photos as I’d only brought my little “point and click” Canon ixus 60, rather than anything better. I walked down past Tivoli, over to the town hall square, along the old shopping streets round the back, and came back via the Parliament buildings. I did have to stop halfway for a hot drink, in part because I’d just been caught in a snow flurry and felt as if my ears were going to drop off, and partly as a result of an upset stomach which may or may not have been down to one of the prawns the night before. Anyway, Cafe Norden proved a delightful find, especially as they opened the upstairs room just as I got there and it provided a lovely view of the fountain and the street outside.
There are also some lovely old ceilings inside, and the whole place has that Viennese coffee house vibe going on. A cup of hot chocolate sorted me out enough to get back outside afterwards and walk back to the hotel to check out and head for the airport. I’m back in the city for the greater part of February and will be taking my “proper” cameras and lenses then. For the meantime, have some photos of varying quality!