Skagen: An Insider's Guide

Brøndums Hotel, An Artists’ Haven, Remains Inspiration Central


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Brøndums Hotel is deeply significant to Denmark and deeply embedded in the history of Skagen, the nation’s northernmost settlement. Anna Ancher was born at the inn, which was owned by her father, Erik Andersen Brøndum. Prominent guests through the years include Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen. Perhaps most significant, Brøndums was a regular hangout for members of the Skagen school of painters, many of whose works were displayed in the hotel’s public rooms. These works of art were literally payment for the artists’ food and board, a fair trade for pleasurable living on the edge of two seas.

Today, Bent Fredberg is the seventh hotelier to run the famous Brøndums Hotel and has been guarding its heritage since 1977. Here he fills us in on the particular charms of Brøndums and Skagen alike.

To what degree does the hotel’s tradition as an artist’s haven continue to inform its reputation?

“Everyone from Skagen is aware of the artists and their paintings, which all Danes are familiar with and love. That has helped to spread the word about how fantastic it is here. Tourists have been coming for more than a hundred years.”

What makes Skagen special, apart from Brøndums Hotel?

“Of most significance for Skagen is its totally unique and magnificent nature: Grenen, the Råbjerg Mile, the harbour. And in terms of culture, the numerous art and culture museums, not to mention the restaurants. Without a doubt, the most important thing for our many guests, then as now, is that Skagen is a living port, not just a summer backdrop.”

How would you describe the locals?

“The people of Skagen are straightforward and down-to-earth and can be counted on.”

Can you tell us something about Skagen that even most Danes wouldn’t know?

“It is ten nautical miles to Gothenburg’s Skærgård: When the weather is just right, you can see the lights of Gothenburg, Sweden, reflected in the Kattegat.”

How important is the Danish concept of “hygge” at Brøndums Hotel?

Hygge [comfort or cosiness] is the motto of Brøndums Hotel. From the moment you enter until you walk out the door again, you are surrounded by comfort and cosiness. 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.”