With the growing demand of hotel rooms in Copenhagen after opening the transatlantic flight routes, SAS took the decision to build their own luxurious hotel – The Royal Hotel.
With the transatlantic flights, SAS saw Copenhagen as the obvious gateway to Europe for North American travellers. However, the lack of hotel rooms was disastrous. The solution was to build one and SAS then took the groundbreaking decision of involving not only the architect but also a professional hotelier at an early stage of the planning phase.
To make room for the new hotel, old hutments were demolished and the railway tracks covered - a serious challenge for the architect, engineers and contractor. The solution was pillars.
The first sod for the future Royal Hotel marked a new era. It was the first high-rise building in Copenhagen, the biggest hotel in Scandinavia and the world’s first designer hotel. As the building got taller, the Copenhageners followed the construction of the rising star with astonishment, concern and some suspicion.
From the outside the vertical hotel and horizontal air terminal look perfect but inside craftsmen are working night and day to get the interior ready for the first guests – after several postponements due to arrive on 1 July.
Architect Arne Jacobsen, the genius mind behind the total design of the hotel, keeps an eye on the work in progress. Today recognized as one of his most successful creations, the building was a frequent topic in the public debate in the 60’s.
The first and original logo of the Royal Hotel, drawn by Arne Jacobsen. This logo represented the hotel from 1960 to 1985.
Arne Jacobsen in the Panorama Lounge on the 20th floor with the famous Egg chairs which became synonymous with Danish design all over the world. Jacobsen’s versatile talent is evident all over the hotel.
It was a great honour for the hotel to host Emperor Hirohito of Japan during his visit to Copenhagen. It was part of his visit to Europe and the USA – and his first visit ever abroad.
King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark were the first of many crowned heads who honoured the hotel with their presence.
General Manager Alberto Kappenberger and Mrs. Ruth Kappenberger were more than happy when on July 1, 1960, they could welcome the very first guests – an American couple – to the hotel.
During the winter, Copenhagen’s Who’s Who gathered on Wednesday evenings to enjoy an exquisite dinner and dance to the merry tunes of Ivan Let and his band in the candlelit restaurant.
The Winter Garden was a study in aesthetic and beauty. The blooming orchids between the double glass walls called for admiration – and gave rise to the inevitable question: How do you water the flowers? The less respectful answer was: Trained monkeys.
Architect Arne Jacobsen and General Manager Alberto Kappenberger enjoyed great reputation in their respective fields. Both gentlemen were strong personalities and the cooperation between the aesthete and the practical man was legendary and sometimes turbulent. It might seem as if the only thing they had in common was their love for gardening!
The first floor lounge – the famous Egg and the Swan chairs as well as the matching sofa are still in production. The lamps, also an Arne Jacobsen design, are still produced by the Danish lighting company Louis Poulsen.
Spacious and airy with spot lights in the ceiling - the lounge offers comfort for the cosmopolitan clientele. The staircase in the background is a true masterpiece in design and elegance.
14 chefs and 22 apprentices ensured a perfect meal for the guests in the elegant Bel Etage restaurant on the first floor.
Upon departure the celebrity would sign the Golden Book while the staff lined up on the staircase to greet the guest with applause. The young bell boy in the centre is the General Manager Alberto Kappenberger‘s son Roy – today General Manager of the hotel himself.
Windows that opened or not – that was one of the discussions between the architect and the hotelier. As seen on this summer photo the hotelier won but it also illustrates one of the nicknames which the Copenhageners soon gave the hotel. When the windows are open, the façade has a certain similarity with the punch cards of the 60’s.
The high-rising facade with the characteristic ”Royal Star” above the entrance. In the 70’s the Royal Hotel had gained a firm foothold in the international hotel industry with many prominent visitors.
Prominent visitors were an essential factor in the hotel’s PR activities and for General Manager Alberto Kappenberger it was a matter of course to greet them in person upon arrival and departure. Here it is Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin and Danish Prime Minister Jens Otto Krag.
The first floor with the lounge, Bel Etage restaurant and Orchid Bar was the rendezvous for hotel guests. The comfortable Swan chairs and delicate lighting created a pleasant environment.
US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is leaving the hotel. Royalty, politicians, sport icons were frequent guests and so were the artists performing in the neighbouring Tivoli Gardens.
Festivals featuring a foreign country or a region were top events. Here is Chef Mogens Bech with a group of Japanese cooks preparing for the spectacular Japanese festival.
The Royal Pastry Shop was famous all over Copenhagen for its fabulous cakes. To the deep regret of many Copenhageners it was decided to close down the outlet, but hotel guests could still enjoy the delicacies created by the Chef Pâtissier and his team.
The Bel Etage Restaurant on the first floor with Arne Jacobsen’s Giraffe chairs. The restaurant hosted the hotel’s social events, such as Candlelight Dinners and many festivals.
Imelda Marcos, wife of President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, leaving the hotel. Mrs. Marcos was known around the world, but locally her fame could not compare with that of the hotel’s doorman, Bernhard Brasso who during the summer acted as Pierrot, all children’s favourite, in Tivoli’s famous peacock theatre.
In the early 80’s the computers found their way to the Royal hotel and marked the beginning of a new era. The new technology inspired to new ways of thinking administration and guest service as perfectly combined in the satellite reception concept, concocted by General Manager Tor Hamnes, the hotel’s IT Manager and the designers from Den Blå Tegnestue.
The Fellini Night Club crowned a period of innovative renovation. The theme was Theatre and the décor spectacular. So were the waitresses’ uniforms – or costumes – designed by theatrical costumier Kent Fredin, balancing at a knife’s edge between the audacious and the classy.
When looking back, no one understands the taste of the 80’s. All the furnitures that was designed for the Royal Hotel, the Egg, Swan etc., were throwned out or sold for close to nothing and replaced with furnitures of the time in pastel colours. The people that bought the original furnitures are today selling these at sky-high prices to collectors.
The re-creation of Arne Jacobsen’s original room design and colour scheme was made possible thanks to the hotel’s cabinet maker and later chief engineer. Over the years he had carefully saved the various items, from furniture to textiles, chandeliers and cutlery. Today Room 606 stands out as in 1960 and is often booked by designers, architects and film crews.
Three lamps in room 606, designed by Arne Jacobsen: the floor lamp, the table lamp and the bedside lamp, here used as reading lamp. Worth noticing is the panel designed for the reading lamp to slide on - a constant challenge for the housekeeping to remember dusting it.
A complete design scheme was characteristic for Arne Jacobsen. Everything, from the building to the smallest detail such as door handles and hinges, is his work. The door handles offers a perfect grip and are still in production.
With the opening of the Café Royal the hotel’s hitherto rather closed facade opened to the world outside. The café served a double purpose, namely giving hotel guests the feeling of being in a lively city and provide easier access for the locals to the hotel.
The demand for hotel rooms were growing and more SAS owned hotels opened. In 1985 were the new brand ”SAS International Hotels” born.
1985, twentyfive years has past since the opening of the Royal Hotel opened the doors. This was celebrated with, of course, partys and this miniature statue of the Royal Hotel was made and given to each of the staff members.
In the various renovations that took place during the 80’s, the red thread was to maintain Arne Jacobsen’s design but adding bright, lively colours to enhance the impression of a modern design hotel.
The Royal Bar in the lobby area is situated where once the Winter Garden tempted with coffee and cakes. As the Copenhagen bourgeoisie disappeared, so did the orchids between glass walls. Instead colourful Swan chairs and a new clientele met for a drink – often accompanied by live jazz music. Denmark’s most expensive drink was created for the Royal Bar.
The entrance to Café Royal next to the reception adds an airy atmosphere to the lobby and allows the daylight to flood in.
Whereas in the 80’s were years of change for the Royal, the 90’s were characterized by “back to basics”. The conference and meeting rooms are once again furnished with Arne Jacobsen’s design – here the Oxford chair that highlights sublime elegance to the room.
A classic bedroom corner with Arne Jacobsen’s 3300 sofas. Designed in 1956 they are as fresh as ever and still in production.
In the 90’s it was time for a thorough room renovation. As always at the Royal the designers have to face the eternal challenge: preservation, combination or redecoration. In the 90’s the solution was combination.
In 1994, SAS International Hotels concluded a marketing agreement with Radisson Hotels Worldwide, in which no equity exchange took place. The agreement actually placed SAS International Hotels in a new and strong position within the marketing, sales and distribution network of the US-based Carlson Companies, the parent company of Radisson.
The new hotel rooms got new furniture and panels. The floor lamp is Arne Jacobsen’s design, but with an invisible improvement invented already in the 60’s by the hotel’s Chief Engineer – a small device that helps keeping the lamp shade in place.
The panorama windows on all four facades ensure fantastic views from each hotel room. The two Swan chairs invite to relaxation, but now upholstered in line with the new colour scheme.
After more than 30 years the bathrooms were in for a thorough renovation. The greyish-green colour scheme matches the original idea and the result is a pleasant, up-to-date bathroom.
1 October 2001, SAS International Hotels was renamed Rezidor SAS Hospitality. The renaming of the parent company created the basis for further expansion with a variety of brands. A new deal with Carlson Hotels Worldwide to develop Park Inn, Country Inn and Regent across Europ, Middle East & Africa. The name Rezidor SAS is adistinctive word coinage suggesting the English 'residence' and 'door' and the French 'or' (gold).
Arne Jacobsen’s Series 7 chair is the best sold chair in Denmark. As an armchair it is perfect for conference and meeting rooms. Comfortable but elegant.
February 11th, 2002, Architect Arne Jacobsen would have been able to celebrate his 100 year birthday.
The light and airy atmosphere was always one of the main characteristics of the hotel. The elegant 7 chairs match the lines of the hotel’s biggest conference room, now named The Egg.
Panorama Lounge, Royal Lounge – today, the lounge on the 20th floor accommodates the Alberto K restaurant, named after the hotel’s first general manager, Alberto Kappenberger. Swan chairs in leather emphasises the elegance.
Arne Jacobsen’s cutlery was a revolution when launched in 1957. At the Royal it was replaced by standard cutlery because the hotel’s international clientele had difficulties accepting the design. Today, time has caught up with Arne Jacobsen’s visionary ideas and the cutlery is a hit with the manufacturer, Georg Jensen.
On November 28, 2006 Rezidor went public and changed its name into the Rezidor Hotel Group. The company is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. With 42%, Carlson Companies are the largest share holders of Rezidor. Radisson SAS becomes the 2nd largest upscale hotel brand in Europe.
Kurt Ritter has been at the head of the Rezidor hotel Group as President & CEO for more than 20 years. Honoured as the longest serving CEO in the worldwide hotel industry, he has been with the company over 30 years. Under his leadership, Rezidor has become one of the fastest growing hotel companies in the world.
The Chef and his team in Alberto K excel in first class ingredients combining the best traditions from North and South. High quality dining in Alberto K contributes to putting Copenhagen on the culinary map.
In addition to gourmet dining, the Alberto K restaurant offers unrivalled views of Copenhagen. The tables are laid with Arne Jacobsen’s cutlery and Royal Copenhagen porcelain.
The light and aesthetic atmosphere enhances the culinary experience in Alberto K.
As a Nordic Ecolabelled "Swan Label" hotel Royal Hotel has adopted a life cycle approach to their environ-mental work and is able to comply with the Nordic Ecolabel’s stringent require-ments. The hotel works, with the help of the Nordic Ecolabel, towards a sustain-able society.
The Oxford chair with a daring cover proves the timelessness of Arne Jacobsen’s design. The chairs are used in the meeting rooms.
In February 2009, Radisson SAS changed name to Radisson Blu reflecting the natural end of it’s links with the SAS Airlines Group following Rezidor's IPO back in November 2006. Radisson Blu is the second largest upper upscale brand in the EU and has been awarded the Most Improved brand in it’s segment by the BDRC (Business Development Research Consultants).
2009: BDRC awards Radisson Blu the title of the Most Preferred Hotel Chain in the Nordics
2009: Business Travel Award for Best Hotel Chain
2008: Rezidor ranks the highest on European Corporate Governance List of HVS
2007: J. D. Powers ranks Radisson Blu & Park Inn highest in European Guest Satisfaction
2004: Rezidor receives the Worldwide Hospitality Award for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, MKG Group
Some call it the world’s most beautiful staircase. Leading from the lobby area to the first floor the winding stair stands out as a sculpture. Elegant and unique!
The Seven chair as a bar stool! Like all Arne Jacobsen’s chairs, the 7 series is available in a variety of colours!
A single dish in Café Royal or exquisite dining in Alberto K – the ambitions are high and appealing to the guest’s palate is a perpetual challenge for any Chef!
The – almost - complete range of Arne Jacobsen’s chairs is in daily use at the Royal. The fact that they are now available in a multitude of colours and covers that keep them up to date is the best proof of good, timeless design.
The Egg is designed for the Royal, synonymous with the Royal – and at the threshold of the hotel’s 50th anniversary trendier than ever. Here highlighted by the daylight from the domes.
The elegant design adds value to any meeting or conference held at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.
Wining and dining – a good sommelier is as indispensable for gourmet dining as the Chef. Needless to say that Alberto K offers a unique selection of wines!
It began with the Royal Hotel in 1960 and today the Radisson Blu brand is the backbone of the Rezidor Group.
Radisson Blu has grown to become one of the largest upscale hotel chains in the world under the leadership of Mr. Kurt Ritter.