In July 1961 the SAS Royal Hotel opened in Copenhagen as the world’s first design hotel. Now known as the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, it was the embodiment of Arne Jacobsen’s whole-picture approach to architecture and design.
Jacobsen received the brief in 1955 from Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) to build the first hotel of its kind and set Copenhagen up as the Nordic gateway for the new tourists travelling from America. The hotel was to act as a terminal in the city centre, with guests whisked direct from its cocktail lounge to Kastrup Airport in a mere 20 minutes.
The glassy horizontal box, topped with an 18-storey vertical one, was a tower of translucence that reflected and blended into the sky around it, somehow merging into its low-rise city home.
Jacobsen designed everything within the hotel’s 22 floors – his hand was seen in furniture, carpets, curtains, wine glasses, cutlery, signage and, of course, the timeless lever handles still made by d line. Today, only room 606 remains as it stood in 1961, and it has fully functioned as a guest room until recently.
The AJ lever handle endures too. The original pieces still remains in place in room 606 as well as in several of the bathrooms across the hotel.