When you’re visiting Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, you probably want to stay in a hotel that is pure Scandi-style: not a characterless chain peddling identical rooms from Abuja to Zagreb. Clearly, for the 65 room Oasia, “Less is more” is the design mantra.
Step in from a quiet residential cobbled street – just around the corner there are hollyhocks and roses in white picket fenced gardens – to designer heaven. At the Oasia Hotel even the phones, with a retro hint of 1970s angled trim phones, are Bang Olufsen. Every room is a gallery to be curated rather than just cleaned and replenished.
Entering your room it looks pristine ready for a Bo Bedre photo shoot – BB is the Dane’s interior design bible just in case you don’t subscribe. Spacious rooms discretely whisper a minimalist style of clean, sleek lines. At times you feel as if you are at the heart of a Nordic Exhibition celebrating the Bauhaus School of Design.
To paraphrase Henry Ford, “You can have any colour you like – as long as it’s white.” Celebrating and reflecting light in the land of long winter nights makes a lot of sense. Oasis’s snow-white rooms are designed to keep Seasonal Affective Disorder at arm’s length.
Interior design is a religion for the Danes, it is a part of their national consciousness. This is a people who have one set of cushions for summer and another set for winter. Incidentally, they also put their summer tyres into a hotel for winter but that’s another story …
Oasia knows that travelling Danes want to live the Bo Bedre lifestyle. This hotel, radically refurbished in 2007, achieves a cool chic look with white plank floors, white walls and white blinds – without becoming too clinically detached.
In stark contrast, the designer black chairs, with chrome legs, become all the more inviting. Look behind the black wood framing the full-length mirror and you will find a mini-wardrobe. Brands are important: televisions are Bang Olufsen, mattresses are Hästens, chairs are by Kjærholm or Theselius and the black desks were custom built by Montana.
There are the merest minimalist hints of colour, blue and white check fabric on the bed frame and a maroon notice board displaying the architect’s refurbishment plans. Inevitably there’s a mini-mountain range of cushions of various hues and textures, like the Appalachians, to tackle before settling to sleep.
Architects are Gods in Denmark as are the artisan workers who make the architects’ vision a reality. Oasia’s corridors feature tastefully curated collections of six black-and-white photos celebrating the refurbishment process.
Yet style is always aligned with functionality. Oasia is at the heart of Aarhus, less than a five-minute walk from both bus and rail stations, but so effective is the double-glazing that you forget your urban location. It goes without saying that the air-conditioning and WiFi do their job too.
Design aficionados can opt to upgrade to one of the five design rooms. The Tecta Room features an F51, it’s a designer chair, not a fighter plane – while the credo in the Källemo Room is that furniture should be able to withstand “wear and tear of the eye.”
However, if you thought breakfast was cornflakes, tea and toast then think again. A coffee machine, inevitably a piece of precision engineering, grinds organic cacao, coffee or espresso beans before your eyes – it runs 24/7 saving you a fortune.
At the Oasia, breakfast is art. A visit to a design gallery before you’ve started your day. Even the breadboard is an aesthetically pleasing collage of seeded and rye breads paying homage to Denmark’s wheat-field traditions.
The cheese slicer is an inspirational innovation worthy of a Design Award. As you turn the handle the wooden platform beneath the cheese rises and the cutting-edge remains constant: every slice is the same depth.
Sadly, breakfast is the only meal Oasia offers. But you can grab a beer or soft drinks from reception and relax on an indoor terrace-bar that might have been a Mad Men setting circa 1963: huge light-giving picture windows, tan leather-and-chrome chairs with low-slung lighting. Even the shadows are clean-cut diagonals.
Then there’s Happiness. Denmark is usually top three when it comes to global Happiness League tables. Aarhus, as a small city with a remarkably good quality of life, is known as The City of Smiles. It is good to have a smiling waitress, inevitably with blond hair neatly tied back, relatively content to be clearing away your breakfast detritus. With Denmark averaging a lowly 34-hour working week, a social security net that allows you time for a career change and beaches not too far away, she has good reason to smile.
Tell me more about the Oasia Hotel
Oasia Hotel, Kriegersvej 27. 8000 Aarhus Denmark
T: +45 87 32 37 15
Double rooms, including breakfast buffet, from around £140.
Don’t linger at the airport. Collect your luggage, buy an Aarhus Card, which will cover your 50-minute bus journey into the city centre as well as a plethora of museums – then get on the bus. The bus timetable meshes with flights and there may not be another flight arriving for 3 or 4 hours. If you miss the bus a taxi will cost you around £90.