For those of you that are yet to become acquainted with the Danish word, ‘hygge’, allow me to fill you in. It roughly translates as ‘cosiness’, and although the Danes have been perfecting the art of hygge for centuries, the term has only gained worldwide attention since the spotlight has been shone on Denmark in recent years for the excellent quality of life it offers its people, for their long life expectancies and impressive health and happiness indices.
In essence, hygge encompasses everything about the Danish way of living and the warm atmosphere that entails: from sharing special moments with special people, to taking a slower pace to life so that you can really savour the goodness that comes with it.
So what does this have to do with the secluded luxury boutique hotel, which is perched on a hillside in the tiny hamlet of Glomset, overlooking the Storfjord, on the west coast of Norway?
Well, apart from the fact that the hotel is a short hop over the border from Denmark in Norway (something I am going to overlook for the purpose of this post, because who said that hygge had to be exclusive to just one of the Scandinavian countries?!)…everything!
The moments in life that come close to achieving true hygge, are characterised by simplicity and casualness, where the individual is usually not too far from nature. Set high on a hill overlooking the Storfjord, with the stunning backdrop of the Stunmøre Alps beyond, the hotel prides itself on being a ‘slow life hideaway’, far from the bustle of urban developments and the stresses of everyday life.
The beautiful scenery, and expansive landscape calls to be explored. There was nothing else to do other than don our hiking boots and thermals, and get amongst it. The feeling of togetherness, and of truly living in the moment as we picked our way along previously unexplored trails as we hiked our way down to the shimmering waters of the fjord below us is something I won’t forget for a long time.
Simple, functional, but beautiful design is central to the hygge philosophy. Particularly if the design assists in making you feel cosy, comfortable and warm.
At Storfjord, all of the rooms are spacious, yet somehow manage to retain a feeling of cosiness throughout. Works of art, rustic furniture and antiques have all been carefully selected for the sole purpose of guest’s comfort and relaxation.
The bedrooms (including a number of brand new rooms which were being finalised as we stayed) have all been individually decorated, and remain sympathetic to traditional Norwegian design.
I fell in love with our pastel-painted four poster bed, and pretty wooden dressers in our room.
And of course, the soft furnishing and roaring fires in each of the main reception rooms.
Low, warm and cosy lighting creates instant hygge, and there aren’t many light sources that do so more effectively than candlelight and an open fire, both of which are employed throughout the hotel.
The fireplace in the dining room was a welcome sight first thing in the morning as we ate breakfast, warming us up for the day ahead, just as it was last thing in the evening with dinner, as we wound down for the evening and started to feel ready for bed.
My favourite fireplace however, was in the expansive sitting room. We would retire here after a long walk, make ourselves a coffee, kick off our shoes, and enjoy the serene state that the low, flickering light and warm ambience bestowed upon us.
Some of us embraced the tranquility more than others…
FOOD AND DRINK
A central tenet of hygge is great food and drink – the kind of meals that, when eaten, feel like your soul is receiving a big, warm hug.
This also happens to be my favourite kind of food.
We were spoiled at Storfjord. The breakfast spreads were extensive, and included everything from traditional Brunost (brown, sweet cheese) to Norweigian meats, customisable waffles, pancakes and eggs.
But it was supper time when the chefs really came into their own. All of the food served in the hotel is made from locally-sourced and largely organic ingredients. One evening we had duck, and our waiter told us that it had arrived earlier that day from a farm just around the hill.
Every meal was delicious and hearty; not complex, but rustic and tasty. I could have licked my plate clean every time.
Lastly, arguably the most important dimension of hygge is how you feel inside.
For this reason, natural materials such as wooden carpentry and traditional craftsmanship are always more hygge than modern architecture and machine-built artefacts. This is where the handcrafted log walls, and ‘log cabin’ vibe of the hotel comes into its own.
Natural views also make you feel more ‘hyggeligt’ (hygge-like) than urban cityscapes. Anything that is warm, while it’s cold outside; allows people to slow down, when usually they’d be rushing around and brings people together to talk and share stories when usually they would be lost in their own world in front of TV, laptop and phone screens…all of this brings about the serene and comforting atmosphere of hygge.
We spent two days in this blissful hygge-like state, and it was some of the best therapy I have ever received.
When can you recall being at your most ‘hygge’?