When Dr Carl Ottosen opened his sanatorium back in 1898, he probably didn’t envisage that nearly 120 years later, a legion of wellbeing lovers would still be arriving at the same spot.
But check into the light and airy lobby of Kurhotel Skodsborg – complete with its library of art books and oversized Vertigo pendant lamps by Constance Guisset – and it’s practically buzzing with hip travellers seeking a respite from modern-day life.
Innovative at the time for his preventative approach to health, Ottosen believed that a combination of light, air, water, nutrition, exercise and rest were the basic cornerstones of wellbeing. Following a recent revamp to turn the hotel back to its former glory (after many years cast adrift as a conference hotel), it occurred to CEO Mai Kappenberger just how close these principles are to contemporary healthy living.
As well as restoring the original period features, therefore, it is this thinking that is at the heart of the hotel’s new spa offering. Located on the borders of Dyrehaven, one of the most picturesque UNESCO Heritage nature reserves in Denmark, the hotel is a speedy 20-minute drive outside of Copenhagen. It’s a remote and beautiful spot with ocean views over the Øresund and the perfect place to come for those seeking a bit of me-time.
The immense spa is all singing and dancing. Minimalist and all-white, the space is flooded with light due to the modern architecture by Henning Larson based around a glass atrium which reflects the huge skies above. Featuring 16 different cooling and warming facilities – such as a hydrospa, salt grotto, Spa Rain and infrared beds, as well as a huge state-of-the-art gym and a cosseting beauty suite – this is a place where you can lose yourself for hours. The programme of activities is mind-blowing with something for everyone: from CrossFit to kundalini yoga, mindful power training to Nordic Spa Adventures (think: sauna, body scrub, hair treatment and an ocean swim).
If you don’t do anything else, make sure you book the signature SaunaGus – which combines aromatherapy with extreme heat. Be warned – it can reach 100-120°C and it’s all about testing your endurance levels. You enter the sauna with a ‘Gus Master’, such as resident expert Tina Andersen. While talking you through breathing techniques in a low, meditative voice, she ‘works’ the sauna by adding special blends of aromatic oils on the oven and swinging the steam around the cabin with a towel. Sounds far out? It is. But it’s also unbelievably invigorating especially given that your ‘cool down’ is a breezy jaunt along a jetty and into the Baltic Sea. It’s literally breathtaking.
For those who want to slow it down somewhat, new three-day wellness retreats have been introduced. Choose from De-Stress, De-Age or De-Tox – all include nutritional and health consultations, bespoke meals and beauty treatments, such as cutting-edge facials by BioEffect.
While the spa is no doubt the heartbeat of the hotel, there are plenty of other delights. The surrounding nature is incorporated everywhere – from the pared-back décor that frames the outside to the seasonal, Nordic food on offer. Whether you dine at Michelin-starred Erik Kroun’s The Restaurant by Kroun, which offers inventive takes on traditional dishes (Pollack with Radishes, Danish Black Lobster and Lumpfish Roe), or at the more relaxed third-floor brasserie – food is healthy, modern and fresh. Breakfast is a highlight – homemade granola, beetroot juice and paleo bread piled with avocado combined to be just the right side of healthy.
Meanwhile, rooms feature soft grey carpet that add a touch of cosiness to the white palette, crisp linens are juxtaposed against dove velvet drapes and indulgent, stand-alone tubs are wonderfully tempting in the New York-style bathrooms.
Best of all is the attention to detail: hot-water bottles tucked inside your bed at night so you doze off on toasty sheets; a genius range of spa-focused Kerstin Florian products left in your room (body oils, konjac sponge and body brushes); ginger shots at breakfast. Forget Hygge, this is Lagom – not too little, not too much, just right.
A double room at Kurhotel Skodsborg costs from £161 per night (based on two sharing).
This article also appeared in The Jewish Chronicle on 2 June 2017