They might not share the same physical space, but 60 years of joint family history unites Hotel Dania, Brasserie and Restaurant Underhuset and Hotel Himmelbjerget. Since 1960, the three venues have belonged to the Jørgensens, and have collectively fed, watered, housed and harboured a veritable who’s who of Denmark’s cultural and historical elite. Today, they’re run by the second generation of siblings, Bent, Henrik and Birthe Jørgensen, and are a must-visit for those looking to tap into the unique heritage and atmosphere of Silkeborg.

Since 1848, the stately Hotel Dania has been a signature of Silkeborg’s main high-street – a daffodil-yellow, timber-framed edifice, with beaming white casement windows and a bright red Danish flag flying dead-centre above the roof.

Hotel Dania: The Paris Bar of Silkeborg

The place is an institution – one of the oldest family-owned hotels in Denmark – and has always attracted a bohemian crowd, much like Paris Bar in Berlin, or Les Deux Magots in Paris. “H. C. Anderson came here regularly, so did actor Dirch Passer. Historically, it has been a meeting spot for artists, writers, actors, musicians, royals and ambassadors,” says owner Bent Jørgensen.

Guests come for the atmosphere of timeless elegance and four-star modern comfort, and to soak up the energy of Silkeborg – one of Denmark’s most beautiful towns. In the past three years, the hotel’s 47 rooms have been renovated in keeping with its heritage aesthetic of unfussy sophistication: simple lines, crisp neutral tones and classic Danish-design furniture. “There’s so much history here – if the walls could talk, they’d have a lot to say! So it was important to preserve and accentuate Dania’s character when we modernised the space,” explains Bent.

Hotel Dania: The Paris Bar of Silkeborg

French-Danish cuisine under the olive trees

Hotel guests and passing visitors alike can dine at Brasserie and Restaurant Underhuset – where old-school French fare and traditional Danish lunch dishes are the forté. “The two venues are an extension of one another. I was a chef in France and Copenhagen, so food has always been a passion here. We serve classic French dishes like foie gras and oysters, as well as Danish favourites like herring, summer cod and lobster soup. And we do a mean fish and chips,” says Bent.

Having been in the family for 60 years, Underhuset has the easy atmosphere of a place filled with regulars. “Birthe, Henrik and I grew up around this venue. The restaurant has its own history and personality. It’s a meeting place, a place for friends and conversation,” says Bent affectionately. Underhuset is a time-honoured favourite in Silkeborg for big gatherings: weddings, business lunches, Christmas and birthday celebrations. Outside in the summer, the sprawling terrace can seat 100 guests under the canopy of the Italian olive trees. “They’re coming into fruit now,” says Bent. “We joke that we could make our own olive oil.”

Hotel Dania: The Paris Bar of Silkeborg

Denmark’s highest hotel

But those looking to enjoy a real outdoor experience, according to Bent, should head to Hotel Dania’s sister venue, some 20 kilometres away. Hotel Himmelbjerget is Denmark’s highest-elevation hotel, with 18 stunning double rooms overlooking the unspoiled landscape of the Lake Highland region: serene lakes and forests that have given Silkeborg the international reputation as ‘Denmark’s outdoor capital’. With a height of 147 metres, the eponymous Himmelbjerget peak is one of the highest natural points in the Danish landscape. The area has been a destination for hiking and festivities for over 200 years.

“Between five and six hundred thousand people come by bike, boat and car to stay here each year,” says Henrik Jørgensen. “This area has the highest geographical density of lakes in the country. Many of our guests come to run and cycle in the hills during their stay.”

Where Dania and Underhuset are favourite city-centre haunts, the spacious Himmelbjerget can serve as the location for larger parties of conference goers, business groups and party gatherings, catering to as many as 450 guests in the restaurant and on the terrace, in one seating. “The summer is high season here, and the atmosphere is fantastic. At Himmelbjerget, we continue the style and philosophy of Hotel Dania. Only here, it’s with the rejuvenating energy of the rolling terrain and diverse scenery,” says Henrik.

Given the reputation of Dania, Underhuset and Himmelbjerget, it would be easy for the Jørgensens to rest on their laurels – but Bent, Henrik and Birthe are unlikely to do so. “Hotel Dania is a part of Silkeborg’s story,” explains Bent. “The three venues have an interconnected history – in our family and in the region. We’ll continue to evolve them as significant social meeting places in Denmark.”

Hotel Dania: The Paris Bar of Silkeborg

Instagram: @hoteldaniasilkeborg

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