The newly renovated lobby with the famous staircase. Photo: Rickard L. Eriksson
The newly renovated lobby with the famous staircase. Photo: Rickard L. Eriksson


The New Look of iconic Radisson Blu Royal Hotel

Renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen's famous hotel from the 1960s is undergoing comprehensive renovation. The recently reopened Café Royal and lobby area have been given a completely new look while paying homage to Jacobsen's original design and use of shapes, light and materials.

When the SAS Royal opened in Copenhagen in 1960 as the airline’s first hotel, it wrote modern design history. 

“I don't think any other hotel has had such importance for the cultural history of a city as the SAS Royal Hotel. It was the world’s first designer hotel, Copenhagen’s first high rise building and the original home of modernistic design classics such as the Egg, Swan and Drop chairs by Jacobsen,” Brian Gleeson, Director of the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel now part of the Carlson Rezidor Group, says.  

Designer classics with a view in the  meeting area. Photo: Rickard L. Eriksson

Taking on the responsibility for renovating the hotel has been both fantastic and somewhat daunting, even for a hotel director with over 15 years’ experience of renovating and opening hotels in the Carlson Rezidor Group.

“Renovating the world’s first designer hotel is a pretty special task. Which is why we have invested such an incredible amount of energy in choosing exactly the right materials and recreating the design experience that was Jacobsen’s vision for the hotel. We’ve been fortunate to have fantastic partners in Space Copenhagen and Fritz Hansen, who have helped ensure such successful results,” Gleeson says. 

Brian Gleeson, general manager. Photo: Rickard L. Eriksson

Every single detail in the new lobby and Café Royal has been carefully thought through and where numerous little surprises await. The shape of the iconic spiral staircase in the lobby is a leitmotif for other design elements, the original marble walls are reflected in marble tables and background screens, while original Jacobsen chairs have been sourced at auction in Germany.

Original features such as an ostrich egg, a ceramic head and framed images selected by Jacobsen in 1960 provide a cozy touch in coordination with the design icon furniture in new, soft fabrics and the living fireplace.

The new restaurant Café Royal shows new aspects of Jacobsens design, and also offers a great view. Photo: Lisa Löwenborg

The Café Royal restaurant is full of Jacobsen designs in new guises and special editions. One of the many gorgeous examples is the Mayor sofa, originally designed for the Mayor's Office in Søllerød in 1939, now scaled down from three to two seats and upholstered in Jacobsen's dandelion print. A combination, that works surprisingly well and shows a more romantic side to Jacobsen's design than we are accustomed to. 

The new bar

The bar has metal rather than plastic drinking straws, while the coasters are of leather rather than cardboard. Because good design is also sustainable, rather than something that merely ends up as waste.

“We aim to give our guests a complete experience through design. Everything our guests see, touch and taste should be something special. A deliberate decision has been made about everything from the wine glasses to brass fittings in the bathrooms to bring the hotel back to the design level it had in 1960. Whenever we were in doubt, we asked ourselves: “What would Arne do?”.

One of the hotel's 259 rooms, freshly refurbished.

“It was no coincidence that the world’s very first designer hotel was in Copenhagen,” Gleeson says. “To my mind, Copenhagen is the real design capital of the world. If you want to learn something about design you simply have to walk round the streets of Copenhagen with your eyes open. You'll find design everywhere you look.”

Even the accessories had to be both beautiful and functional, that help give the SAS Royal Hotel a unique place in modern design history.

Did you find this article inspiring?

Give it a thumbs up!


Book trip

Use your points

From10,000 Round trip

Spend points


Close map


From the article

Share this tips


Looking for something special?

Filter your search by