Breakfasts and Beds: Hotel Cabinn City, Copenhagen, Denmark
+45 3346 1616
by Joyce Carol Oats
‘You cannot leave without me, Joyce,’ the chap who had been chasing me around the dance floor at my friend’s wedding declared in a husky gush of schnapps fumes. ‘Take me back to your hotel.’
‘Even if I fancied you,’ I replied, prising my forearm from his grip. ‘It would be impossible.’ I paused, gazed with meaning into his dilated pupils. ‘You would not fit. Into the room. The room! It is far too small.’
And that is why I am breakfasting alone this morning at the Cabinn City Hotel, the cheapest hotel in expensive Copenhagen. For about fifty quid, you get a miniature room with two narrow bunks and a bathroom where it is impossible to take a shower without soaking the toilet paper. There is a television and a chair if you like sitting. There are even some lights. And in the basement there is a cafeteria where they serve the breakfast buffet. The breakfast costs an additional sixty Danish kroner, which is about six pounds.
The price is an affront: the choices are cold: muesli with yogurt, cornflakes and puffed rice. There are three kinds of juice, including that very highly sweet kind of orange that tastes suspiciously like it contains some high fructose corn syrup. Tea and instant coffee, butter and jam, and then the breads. There are a wide range of breads: white and brown and those square seedy rolls that they have in northern Europe. I love those square seedy rolls, so I select one and grab some packets of butter and jam. I skip the ubiquitous northern European breakfast ham and salami, and then I see it: the cheese slicer.
It is a miraculous little machine: two bricks of cheese sit across from each other on a round board. In the centre is a sort of screw atop which sits a handle which attaches to a wire (I know, it is difficult to envision: this is because you have never seen such a cheese slicer). You spin the handle and the wire slices off a perfectly even slice of cheese from each block; a second round, and it slides down the central screw and slices two more. I am riveted, and not just because I am hungover: it is a thing of beauty, a masterpiece of Scandinavian design.
I join a long table full of other travellers, who are munching away with the bleary, dazed affect of people who have just suffered three hours of Carlsberg nightmares in a narrow bunk bed in a room with no air conditioning. I consider my selection: a seedy roll, marg, jam, and six slices of cheese because, well, I got a little carried away. The flavours are indifferent. The texture requires a fair bit of chewing. I wash it all down with the instant coffee. I take a sour green apple for the road. I attempt to take the cheese slicer, but it is too heavy. I wonder what my would-be suitor is eating for breakfast, and if it is more delicious. I decide I'm quite content not knowing.