Brondums Hotel is deeply embedded in the history of Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost settlement.
The Danish painter Anna Ancher (1859-1935), associated with the Skagen painters, was born at the inn, which was then owned by her father, Erik Andersen Brondum, a merchant and landlord, who started running it around 1840.
Prominent guests through the years included Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen. Blixen stayed for several months in 1936 in room 116, where she wrote part of her book Out of Africa.
After the inn burned down in 1874, a new building was erected with a long low wing of grey bricks. This wing is the oldest part of the hotel. Around 1890 the famous Danish architect Ulrich Plesner came to Skagen to inspect the lighthouse at Hojen. At that time it was felt that the inn needed to be enlarged, so the son of Erik Brondum, Degn Brondum, seized the opportunity to commission Ulrik Plesner to supervise the construction of an extension to the inn which was then completed in 1892. More space was needed, so Ulrik Plesner designed and built considerable extensions in his favorite red brick style.
As a result of Plesner’s extensions the inn became a hotel and remained as such until parts of it burned down in 1954 and 1959.
Perhaps most significant, Brondums was a regular hangout for members of the Skagen school of painters from 1880s to the turn of the century. Many of their works are displayed in the hotel’s public rooms and were literally payment for the artists’ food and lodging, a fair trade for pleasurable living on the edge of two seas. The artists met in the blue room, and declared, “here is where we’ll meet.” (painting above)
Maître d’hôtel, Kresten Skeel Langvold (55) informs us that people visiting the hotel today are seeking originality, which no longer can be bought for money. (Photo above at Degn Brondum’s desk). “Everyone from Skagen knows of the artists and their paintings, and all Danes are familiar with and love them. This has helped to spread the word about how fantastic it is here. Tourists have been coming for more than a hundred years,” says Langvold and continues, “Comfort or coziness is the motto of the Brøndums Hotel. From the moment you enter until you walk out the door again, you are surrounded by ‘hygge’, the Danish word for coziness”.
The professional staff does its utmost to ensure that everyone has a pleasant time here; the furnishings are elegant yet informal and candles are always burning on the tables, regardless of the time of day or year. “Our philosophy is that one should feel at home even when not at home.”
Yes, you feel at home at Brondums hotel. Some guests may be surprised that when they enter their rooms, they find neither toilet nor shower. The truth is that Erik Brondum wanted rooms without water at all (there are sinks with hot and cold water in all the rooms and shower and toilets on every floor). His view was that there was enough water in the sea nearby, so that guests could just go there and bathe.
They served for instance two big pieces of fish on the plates – not very elegant. And since the serving pantry was next to our table, there was disturbing traffic passing our table during our meal.
Text and photos: Tor Kjolberg