Above: The exterior of Kokkedal Slot Copenhagen, in Kokkedal, Denmark

The Tranquil Charm of Denmark's Countryside

Copenhagen is regularly ranked among the world’s most livable cities. Certainly the international popularity of the Danish capital is well-deserved, thanks to its fine museums, grand architecture, great shopping and cutting-edge restaurant scene. However, few travelers discover the delights of Denmark beyond its largest metropolis. As I recently found on a 10-day trip through the countryside, this pretty, polite, peaceful country, roughly half the size of Maine, is a wonderful destination for delicious food, impressive castles and charming country house hotels. For many years, Falsled Kro, a longtime favorite on the island of Funen, was the only property I recommended outside Copenhagen, but now it’s been joined by several other addresses, which collectively form a splendid touring itinerary.

Travel in Denmark is easy, convenient and comfortable. The country has excellent infrastructure, with well-maintained roads and ferries. Kastrup, Copenhagen’s main international airport, is so attractive and efficient it inspires immediate envy. Just to the north, the countryside resembles a vast and lovingly tended garden. In late spring, the rolling green fields were interspersed with bright-yellow bands of flowering rapeseed, while huge high-tech windmills — the country has been a pioneer in the generation of wind power — were arrayed on the crests of the hills.

Kokkedal Slot Copenhagen

In need of a rest after the transatlantic flight, we stopped first at Kokkedal Slot Copenhagen (“slot” is the Danish word for “castle”), a 62-room hotel located on the scenic eastern shore of the island of Zealand, the so-called Danish Riviera, 35 minutes to the north of Copenhagen. This handsome white 18th-century manor house sits on a low hill, affording views of the surrounding estate (including a nearby 18-hole golf course) and the distant Baltic Sea. It proved to be a quiet, gracious place. The ground floor of the hotel is occupied by a large lounge with Bohemian crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors, a conservatory veranda used as the main restaurant during summer months — from September to May, dining moves to the vaulted cellar — and a cozy bar with a fine selection of aquavit, the signature Scandinavian spirit.

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Above: The exterior of Kokkedal Slot Copenhagen, in Kokkedal, Denmark

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