SAS Royal Hotel: Birthplace of The Swan and The Egg


Photo: Per Munkgaard Thorsen,

Denmark’s first skyscraper was like a sci-fi “travel machine” for SAS passengers. Arne Jacobsen’s furniture designs created for the hotel are now legendary.

There was a travel agency, bank and car rental company. There was a booking office and a super-fast shuttle service from the cocktail lounge to the airport. But craziest of all was the state-of-the-art computer that could say in a split second exactly how many seats were available on a given flight. The SAS Hotel was truly sophisticated.

From the outside, the building stands out sharply against the sky: towering, symmetrical and strong. But if you stand at a distance and let your eyes glide along the facade, you may notice something else. There is an almost unnaturally delicate element in the spot where the long bands of windows meet at each corner. You can just imagine what the view must be like.

Arne Jacobsen designed every single detail: the colors, furniture, door handles, lamps, silverware, ashtrays and curtain tassels. Everything! With the exception of the lighting in part of the foyer, which was pure white due to fluorescent tubes. He wasn’t happy about that, but tolerated it because the hotel was more than a hotel. It was an airport terminal for SAS travelers.

Arne Jacobsen’s exceptional designs were not fully appreciated for a couple of decades, so the hotel lost some of its original pieces. However, today, you can again experience his iconic designs with the organic contours at the exclusive hotel.


  • The SAS Hotel (now Radison Collection Royal Hotel) is nearly 70 meters high, and with its 22 floors it was the highest in Denmark when it was built in 1960. There are 275 rooms.
  • The top floor houses a public restaurant with one of the most magnificent views in Copenhagen. There is currently (2019) no leaseholder, but there are plans to re-open the restaurant.
  • Arne Jacobsen build the SAS Hotel based on inspiration from Lever House in Manhattan, New York.
  • Internationally recognized design icons, like The Egg, The Swan and The Drop, were designed specifically for the hotel. Today, only room 606 still looks the way it was originally designed in 1960.
  • In 2001, German-Iranian designer Yasmine Mahmoudieh renovated the hotel, reintroducing the original furniture, which had been phased out for a period of time when their value was underrated.
  • The building is currently home to three restaurants and two bars, which are open to the public and offer service from morning to night.


Experience the ultimate contrast to this modernist hotel with a visit to Copenhagen City Hall just a few hundred meters away. The city hall was created by Martin Nyrop 60 years before the SAS Hotel and was designed in just as much detail as the hotel – only with an entirely different love of carvings and opulence. Admission is free, and it is open to the public during the day.

On the corner near Tivoli, there is a food hall with street food vendors, where you can take cover from the wind and rain. The atmosphere is not as urban as one might wish, but you will be greeted by a warm informality and a wide range of options for grabbing a meal without maxing out your credit card.


Copenhagen, Vesterbro


Arne Jacobsen