Enjoy a “kro” holiday in Denmark
“The history of Danish inns goes back a long way,” says Jørgen Christensen, Director of the Small Danish Hotels network. “In 1283, King Erik Klipping decreed that small hotels, or inns, were to be established to accommodate him and his entourage, when he traveled around the country to collect taxes. At the time of that decree, there was to be an inn every 40km on major highways, and many of the places you see today date back several centuries.”
The inns were initially reserved for travelers only, but since local residents have been allowed to use them too, they have acted as hotels, restaurants and culture centers, and hosted everything from weddings and funeral receptions, to christenings and confirmations. Being welcoming to both the local community and visiting guests give these places a special charm.
“They are small, traditionally family-run countryside hotels, where the host and hostess often greet their guests in person. This welcoming atmosphere and good service play an important role in the whole experience,” Christensen says.
The outstanding service means that guests can make the most of both their stay and excursions around the local area.
“The hosts appreciate that they’re local ambassadors and are happy to play this role. They’re an extension of the tourist office, advising guests on sightseeing, scenic spots and how to navigate your way around the area,” he adds.
As the network covers the whole country, these inns provide a perfect starting point to explore and discover Denmark. You’ll often find them in authentic picture-postcard settings, in villages, surrounded by churches and windmills, and close to hills, rivers, the sea, forestry and wetlands. Many back onto national parks or dramatic ice age cliffs, and the hosts are full of advice on hiking trails and cycle hire.
Having said that, a stay at an inn offers you a chance to take it easy. Rural surroundings and a relaxed atmosphere offer some much needed breathing space.
Naturally, good food is a large part of the inn experience. Many places take tremendous pride in serving traditional, regional dishes, while others are closer to superb haute cuisine, Michelin-starred gourmet dining.
When guests voted for the Hotel of the Year in 2016, it was one of the more traditional inns that walked away with the award. Agerskov Kro og Hotel, in South Jutland, is the epitome of an old-fashioned inn, with grandfather clocks, copper engravings, traditional Danish blue enamelware on the shelves, and decorative knickknacks wherever you look. Bodil and Peter Otte have been hosts here for 41 years and are in the process of expanding the room capacity (again) to keep up with demand.
Peter is in charge of the food, which he describes as, “Danish farmhouse cuisine, based on South Jutland specialties.” This includes substantial cakes, and classics such as Danish open sandwiches, tartelettes, rib of veal and lemon mousse. When we ask him the secret of their success, he immediately credits the staff. “For us, they are the A to Z,” Otte says. “Our staff are brilliant, so we give them a free hand – we never say no.”
Text: Lise Hannibal