BEACH HOTELS – PURE HOLIDAY NOSTALGIA!

Beach hotel – it conjures thoughts of summer and the nostalgic dream of women in light summer dresses, men in light clothes, the morning scent of the North Sea, shared sunsets, and after the sun has set, coffee and cigars in the beach hotel’s sitting room before it is time for guests to return to their rooms, every room unique, with freshly ironed bed linen. Kaufmann Journal has visited a handful of the best Danish beach hotels. BY VIBE NØRGAARD
Beach hotels
Helenekilde Badehotel is spectacularly located on the edge of the Kattegat with a view of Kullen in Sweden.

Hottest holiday trend

Origins of beach hotels

Before beach hotels were built, Denmark’s beaches were the domain of fishermen who lived in small houses and struggled to make a daily living on the sea. Neither fishermen nor anyone else would dream of bathing in the sea. But this changed at the end of the 19th century, when healthy living advocates decreed that swimming in the sea was the new and sure way to a healthy body and a good and long life. Now urban dwellers wanted to swim in the sea and the bourgeoisie flocked to the beaches and dived into the waves. Local people who lived in the small fishing hamlets watched open-mouthed as large beach hotels were built right in front of them. The golden age of beach hotels was the first half of the 20th century.

Only a few years earlier, Painter P.S. Krøyer and his colleagues had made Skagen world famous, and chamberlains, countesses and royalty visited the now long-gone but impressive in its day, Skagen Badehotel on the tip of Grenen. Royal visitors included Denmark’s King Christian X and his wife Queen Alexandrine, Sweden’s King Oscar II and Queen Sofia. And amid a lot of fanfare, no less than the King of Siam and his court made a visit. At the time, Skagen Badehotel was Denmark’s most exclusive beach hotel. There were tennis courts, a boxing ring, a runway with a hangar so guests could arrive by plane and park it safely during their stay, protected from sand and salt spray.

The hotel was made of wood and burned down in 1938, never to be rebuilt. During the 1960s and 1970s, beach hotels suffered as package tourism flourished. They became run down and several closed. But they began to flourish again during the 1990s and today, beach hotels are popular holiday destinations. Danish television channel TV2’s ‘Badehotellet’ attracts over a million viewers. The series is about a fictitious beach hotel but takes its inspiration from some of the loveliest beach hotels in Denmark.

beach hotels
1. Helenekilde’s terrace is legendary. Here you can enjoy the view and enjoy being alive. 2. Melsted Badehotel’s white building next to Gudhjem on the island of Bornholm is reminiscent of the architecture on Greek islands.

Fashionable

‘Badehotellet’ is supposed to be located by the North Sea. Exactly as Ruths Hotel is, one of the most fabulous and most fashionable beach hotels in Denmark. Its location in Højen, also known as Gammel Skagen, makes it the jet set’s favourite place to stay during the middle of July. It is also the hotel where Danes and foreigners flock to experience the authentic atmosphere of a beach hotel, where people take morning walks on the beach before breakfast, swim in the sea, chat about the weather and look forward to their evening meal. The food is very special, no less because Ruths Hotel proudly has its own master chef. There is a brassiere and a gourmet restaurant, and guests and their friends can watch the sunset from Solnedgangspladsen.

Helenekilde beach hotel
The terrace at Helenekilde in Tisvilde, a natural meeting point in summer.

Ruths Hotel is one of a number of hotels that struggled to survive during the 1970s, and in 2004 gained new life thanks to multimillionaire and Skagen lover, Jørgen Philip-Sørensen. Slightly further along the coast lies Kandestederne, where all three beach hotels were closed down until 20 years ago, when developer and visionary Finn Clausen saw the possibilities and restored Hjorths Hotel to its former glory. Today it is owned by major developer, A. Enggaard. There is a bus that takes morning swimmers down to the beach and the sitting room offers a view of the migrating sand dune, Råbjerg Mile.

The millionaire’s hotels in Southern Jutland

The west coast is not the only area where you can find beach hotels. Southern Jutland is also home to a couple of beautiful examples. Dyvig Badehotel is located in northern Als, off the beaten track, between forest and sea, perfectly reflected in the still waters. This beach hotel’s exterior was inspired by Danish architect and designer Thorvald Bindesbøll’s characteristic red-white fish packing hall located at the harbour in Skagen. The hotel is only 10 years old, built where Dyvig Kro used to be located and has a wealth of modern facilities. But the external look with its solid timbre, and en-suite rooms with double-wing doors, Gustavian-style furniture, paintings in gold frames, harks back to the 1920s and the golden age of beach hotels, creating the genuine beach hotel atmosphere and holiday joy from former times.

Beach hotels Stammershalle Badehotel
1. We love the nostalgia of beach hotels. 2. Extensive Stammershalle Badehotel on Bornholm, beautifully restored.

Another great example in Southern Jutland is the romantic Aarøsund Badehotel near Haderlsev with direct access to the sea. The vivid yellow building exudes tradition and history. It offers a wonderful view of Aarø on the other side of Lillebælt, where Aarø vineyard and the finest gourmet restaurants are located. The hotel’s interior harks back to the hotel’s golden age in the style of German Art Noveau, which was popular in the 20th century. Both hotels are owned by Hans Michael Jebsen, millionaire and owner of more than 100 historical buildings, mainly located in Southern Jutland. Even though this enterprising businessman lives in Hong Kong, when he visits Denmark he often stays as a guest of the Danish Royal Family. He is a man with strong values and he sees it as his special task to own and preserve historic properties for posterity.

GETAWAY IN NORTH ZEALAND

Helenekilde Badehotel is located on the other side of Zealand in North Zealand. This beautifully white hotel is located in Tisvildeleje and has a spectacular view across the Kattegat and of Hesselø and Kullen. Helenekilde Badehotel opened in 1904 and is the essence of a beach hotel. It has now been beautifully restored, and the buildings reflect its history. The interior design is very fine, creating a charming and intimate atmosphere that makes guests feel at home.

Beach hotels Melsted Badehotel
Melsted Badehotel, the essence of relaxation.

Pearls of the Baltic Sea

Bornholm is also home to at least two wonderful beach hotels. One of these is Melsted Badehotel, near Gudhjem. On a hot summer day here, you could believe you were on a Greek island, helped by the white functional building with its blue window frames, the sandy beach and the stillness. There are no TVs or mini bars in the rooms, so that guests can better enjoy the wonderful sea view. Meals also include a view of the Baltic Sea, and on the terrace, guests can spend hours meditatively watching the shifting blue colours of the sea. The beautifully restored Stammershalle Badehotel is also located close to Gudhjem, and has an amazing panoramic view of Christiansø. It offers pure indulgence, sublime food and an authentic beach hotel atmosphere.

Beach hotels scallops
Scallops are a must at any beach hotel.

New and renovated beach hotels

The resurgence of beach hotels isn’t all about nostalgia. Some enterprising people have been inspired to build new beach hotels. Hans Michael Jebsen built Dyvig Badehotel in Southern Jutland 10 years ago, and brand-new and original Strandhotellet was built in Blokhus, whose owners, married couple Ebdrup, entrusted the interior design to Jette Lehmann,, set designer for the TV2 series ‘Badehotel’. Svinkløv, which was probably Denmark’s most iconic beach hotel, burned to the ground on 26 September 2016. Until it’s successor is built, it is worth remembering the beauty of its lonely majesty next to the sea in wild Thy.

Beach hotels adirondack chairs at Melsted Badehotel
Adirondack chairs help create the mood at Melsted Badehotel.

New and renovated beach hotels

The resurgence of beach hotels isn’t all about nostalgia. Some enterprising people have been inspired to build new beach hotels. Hans Michael Jebsen built Dyvig Badehotel in Southern Jutland 10 years ago, and brand-new and original Strandhotellet was built in Blokhus, whose owners, married couple Ebdrup, entrusted the interior design to Jette Lehmann,, set designer for the TV2 series ‘Badehotel’. Svinkløv, which was probably Denmark’s most iconic beach hotel, burned to the ground on 26 September 2016. Until it’s successor is built, it is worth remembering the beauty of its lonely majesty next to the sea in wild Thy.

Beach hotels Dyvig Badehotel
Thorvald Bindesbøll’s fish packing hall at the harbour in Skagen harbour inspired Dyvig Badehotel’s architect.