Anton Rosen and the Palace Hotel
In 1907, shortly after the turn of the century, then butcher, Anders Jensen purchased a parcel of land in front of the newly constructed Copenhagen City Hall on the grounds of the old hay and straw market with a particular vision in mind: An internationally renowned hotel, which if he, the owner, would not be considered refined enough to stay at.
Anders himself was born into a poor family in the rural town of Slangerup, but once his family moved to the city of Copenhagen, he began to work his way up the social ladder. He started at a very young age working as a delivery boy before apprenticing as a butcher, and by the age of 23, had established his first butcher's shop. He would later on become Master of the Butcher's Guild in Denmark for several years, and was responsible for the iconic cow's head design that would adorn butcher shop windows for years to come.
Anders was also a shrewd investor and prior to the Palace Hotel project, had invested in hotels and other properties in Denmark including hotels in North Zealand. When the property in Copenhagen was for purchased by Anders, the timing and location were perfect for his grand idea. He only needed an architect of similar vision to help him make his dream a reality. All of this he found in the equally renowned Anton Rosen.
Anton Rosen had started as a bricklayer, but underwent training to become an architect, and graduated at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in 1882.By the time Anders approached him to work on designing the Palace Hotel, he had already been working under Vilhelm Dahlerup and attended the construction of spa resort in Silkeborg as well as the National Museum of Art as well as a number of independent projects. He also was awarded a small gold medal for his design work in 1894.
By the 1890's he was already well on his way to establish himself as one of the most innovative and original designers of his time, by eschewing the historicism of the older generation of architects and pulling forward with a new style heavily inspired by Art Nouveau and more international styles.
The Palace Hotel (then named the "Palads") was the perfect blank canvas for which he could design, and he threw himself into the project, designing every aspect of the hotel, shown in his sensibilities in creating the grand "Night" and "Day" wings, with which he consciously created to cater to evening and day visitors respectively. The "Night" wing faced the back streets, allowing for the poets and artists, the "stars" of international fame, if you will, to have easier access to their nighttime venues, and was subtly decorated with evening mosaics, reflecting the appropriate time of their guest's arrival. The "Day wing, conversely, was decorated with daytime motifs and provided a splendid morning view of Tivoli Gardens to the rooms reserved for the royalty of the world.
He paid attention to every little detail, designing not only the building itself, but also the wallpaper and the furniture which adorned the grand hotel like fine jewels upon the hotel's guests. Each room was decorated with the finest attention to form and material, and he took pride in signing many of the designs created for the pieces he created, bringing a life and vitality to the hotel which was lacking in the hotels of old.
When it came time to dining within the hotel, he spared no expense here as well. The hotel featured an American style bar, which was unique and innovaive for its time, and the basement had its own bakery, confectionary kitchen, and even a smokehouse in addition to the standard kitchens for preparing meals for its guests, and, of course, it's own wine cellar which featured a bottling facility and warehouse. The bar and restaurant specialized in the finest of both Nordic and international cuisine, and the furnishments were all of the highest quality. When it came to the silver with which the tables were set, Rosen in turn came to the finest silversmith he knew: Georg Jensen.
Anton Rosen and Georg Jensen had been acquainted with each other for a while before work on the Palace Hotel began. In fact, two of the very first pieces of flatware from the Georg Jensen workshop were a pair of silver spoons for stewed fruit which Georg Jensen designed for Anton Rosen and his wife, Tine's 15th anniversary, and were adonred with fine semiprecious stones given by the Rosen's themselves. The spoons now reside in the Danish Museum of the Decorative Arts in Copenhagen. For this grand establishment Georg Jensen designed the most beautiful and intricately detailed pieces in silver. From cake plates to soup tureens, the attention to detail was astounding. The flatware featured a beautifully rendered mussel pattern (later to inspire pattern $145) with the hotel's initials lovingly intertwined with the hotel's initials. The silverware itself was so well recieved that the head waiter spoke of the teaspoons "disappearing" from the restaurant as people sought a souvenir of their stay.
Upon opening, the Palace Hotel was a huge success, and one of the first to stay was none other than King Frederick VIII whom was present upon opening day. According to records, upon hearing of the King's intentions to visit, they planned an elaborate recieving at the front entrance, red carpet and all, one only befitting of a king, only to have King Frederick VIII enter through the back entrance!
Over the years, the guest book has included many famous signatures of noteable guests, including Laurel and Hardy, Audrey Hepburn, and Gregory Peck. In 1958, then Princess Margrethe added her signature to the Golden Book below King Frederick VIII's.
Though the hotel has changed hands over the years, first in 1927 to Valdemar Nielsen, who changed the name from "PaladsHotellet" to "Palace Hotel", and did much to modernize the facilities, great attention was made to preserve the history and heartfelt work of Anton Rosen. In 2003, the hotel underwent major renovations to modernize and upgrade it once again to the five star status it deserves under the management of the Starwood chain of hotels, and many of Rosen's old documents and designs were re-evaluated and incorporated into the project. The old textile patterns from Rosen's sketches were used tor the bedspreads and paintings that furnish the rooms. The building of the hotel itself has remained unchanged and constantly efforts are being made to preserve it, as per the requirements made when the hotel was deemed a historic landmark in 1985, and visitors are welcome to stay even into today.