Prepare For the Prices
Denmark is a notoriously expensive country and accommodation is no exception. Hotels easily cost over $150 for a double room and most are more expensive, particularly in the larger cities such as Copenhagen. Expensive hotels can cost upwards of several hundred dollars. Many of the hotels target business travelers and price out many mid-range level travels. As a budget traveler there are a few options in Denmark. There is no shortage of hostels in cities like Copenhagen. While in most European countries a double room in a budget hotel is roughly twice the cost of a dorm bed, making hostels less appealing, in Denmark, hostels are significantly cheaper than double rooms. For backpackers, hostels remain the most obvious choice in the cities in Denmark.
Because Denmark is such an expensive country it is very tricky to find a good deal. For more expensive hotels the best way to find a good deal is to book well in advance online. Search for special packages or discounted rates. Also, travel during the off season when prices are significantly lower.
Hostels are generally a much better price than hotels. They should also be booked well in advance as price goes up with time and some popular hostels fill up early. Once you're outside of the city, camping is a good option and will save you a lot of money. You must camp in a designated campground, of which there are about 500 throughout the country. Most are very modern and up to date in the amenities they offer.
A Look At Your Options
Denmark has some interesting accommodation types. You will find no shortage of high end hotels but budget level hotels are far more limited. Some national chain hotels to consider include Zleep and Cabb-in, both or which are reliable. You might also consider staying at a bed and breakfast which can be slightly more affordable. There are hostels throughout the country as well. The main hostel association is Danhostel which operates 95 hotels throughout the country. In the two largest cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus you will find a handful of independently run hostels that are not associated with this organization.
Camping is an option in designated campgrounds. Most campgrounds are modern and offer standard hookups. You might also consider a farm holiday which can be a wonderful way to fully engage in daily life in Denmark. Ask at various tourist information centers for a list of farms that participate in the program.
A final alternative to a typical hotel is the historic old inns, known as kro in Danish. You will find these around the towns and villages and most are affiliated with the organization Danske Kroer og Hoteller.
You'll find most of the hotels in Copenhagen in the areas of Indre By and Vesterbro. Hostels are generally your most affordable option in the city, but if you're on a particularly tight budget you can stay at one of the two free campgrounds along the the Mollea river. The campsites are basic and simple, but they're also free of charge. There are some commercial campgrounds nearby as well. Many are open in the summer months only and can be surprisingly expensive. It's illegal to camp anywhere that is not designated a campsite. While you likely won't get caught, it's generally not recommended that you go this route.
The two cheapest hostels in town are the YMCA Interpoint and Sleep in fact. These hostels are only open in the summer months and fill up quickly so plan ahead. The dorms are quite basic and you will find the amenities are limited but the prices are low. You can find some cheap hotels around town but they are usually poorly located and in poor condition. Hostels are often a better deal as the are more modern, well kept, social and a lower price.
Copenhagen is a city that you will enjoy more if you come prepared to spend money. There are some unique hotel options that are more expensive than you might like, but fun to stay at. Some of the more unique options include Flakfortet, which allows you to sleep in an old fort. It is located on it's own island and is really a great experience. Also consider Dragor Fort which is another great option.
Like elsewhere in Denmark, accommodation in Arhus is more expensive than other parts of Western Europe. There is one hostel in town that is basic and affordable. It does fill up quickly so plan ahead to make sure you have a bed when you arrive. Danhostel is about three kilometers outside of town. It's located in the forest and can be reached by bus. There is also camping available. Check out Blommehaven Camping in the Marselisborg Forest about five kilometers south of the city center. Also look into Aarhus Camping, which is four kilometers north of town.
There are some great small hotels around town. These are more expensive, but also more comfortable. It is cheaper to make reservations ahead of time through the internet where you might be able to find some good deals. Prices at arrival are higher if you don't have a prior reservation. This limits your flexibility but will save you a lot of money.