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What Is Hygge, and How Can You Bring It into Your Home—and Your Travels?

The hygge trend is everywhere these days, and even if you don’t know the word, you know hygge when you feel it. The concept of comfort and coziness is especially important right now when we’re all stuck in our houses—but even once we can travel again, there are ways to bring hygge on the road with us. Here’s how to experience hygge at home and when you travel.

What Is Hygge?

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Hygge may be at the forefront of Danish culture, but the word is derived from the 16th-century Norwegian term hugga, which roughly translates to “hug.” Pronounced “hyoo-ga,” hygge is a feeling of comfort and coziness, like a good conversation by the fire, a cup of steaming coffee in a warm cafe on a cold day, or a blissful moment of contentedness that holds you like a hug.

Hygge culture is important across Scandinavia and Northern Europe—you can find it in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and even the Netherlands and Iceland.

Hygge at Home

hygge bedroom.
Lysikova Irina/Shutterstock

The first step to bringing hygge into your home is by reading up on it. There have been numerous books published in the past few years that highlight this lifestyle, most notably the bestseller The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. Other popular books on the topic include Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness and Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures, Living the Danish Way. (For the full hygge experience, make sure to have a steaming cup of tea next to you while reading.)

Hygge food is essentially Nordic cuisine, so think about adding dishes like smorrebrod (open-faced sandwiches), Danish pastries, fish, porridge, frikadeller (meatballs), and vegetable-heavy plates to your at-home meal rotation.

Anything that is comfortable and minimalist constitutes hygge, which makes it a great style for both traveling and lounging at home. One good clothing brand to shop is Alternative Apparel, which sells dresses, pants, leggings, and T-shirts made from super comfortable fabrics like eco-jersey and organic cotton.

You’ll want to stock up on cozy clothes like hoodies, sweatpants, and leggings—all of which you can also use in the future when you’re able to travel again. And don’t forget ultra-comfy shoes that feel like slippers.

Bring some hygge into your living room with a comfy blanket (like this organic cotton one from Boll & Branch or this ultra-soft faux fur option from Walmart), some extra throw pillows on the sofa, and a few scented candles.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure your bed is the coziest spot of all. Check out five hotel room comforts you can get for your bedroom, ranging from high-thread-count sheets to Westin’s famous Heavenly Bed (also known as a Simmons Beautyrest mattress). Consider topping it off with a weighted blanket for extra hygge at home.

Hygge Travel

Olesya Kuznetsova/Shutterstock

Whether or not you’re traveling to a hygge country, you can enjoy the lifestyle through hotel design and amenities around the world. From the relaxing spa suites at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in the Scottsdale desert to the aptly named Hygge Hotel in Brussels, hygge is embraced around the world. In the U.S., you can find hygge design and inspiration at boutique hotel chains like Kimpton, Lark Hotels, and others.

Hygge is all about warmth and coziness, so pausing at a cafe for coffee or tea is an easy way to experience it when you travel. Whether you just visit a local coffee shop on your trip or participate in fika—a concept in Sweden and Finland that essentially means “coffee break”—drinking hygge is simple and easy.

Scandinavian culture also has alcoholic hygge drinks. Glogg is the Swedish word for mulled wine, but is often more alcoholic and served with fruit in comparison to other European versions. Hot mead, or honey wine, is another version of mulled wine you can find in Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden.

New York City has plenty of Nordic restaurants if you’re looking to get hygge food stateside. Check out the Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal, started by Noma co-founder Claus Meyer.

Minneapolis is also considered a rising star on the Nordic culinary map, with restaurants like Bachelor Farmer and Tullibee.

Maximize your hygge with some concentrated coziness. Urban Adventures runs various Copenhagen tours that include both city highlights as well as elements of hygge such as coffee and food stops. If you’re looking for more hygge on your trip, check out On the Go Tours’ Lapland & the Arctic Circle five-day trip in the Finnish Lapland. This tour runs from October to March and includes the ultimate experience of hygge as you’ll need to be nice and cozy after a day in the Arctic.

One of the best ways to experience hygge anywhere in the world is to treat yourself to a day at the spa. Scandinavian culture has perfected the spa concept—from Swedish massages to Finnish saunas, you can find a Scandinavian treatment on almost every spa menu. On a budget? Pack your own bath salts and enjoy a soak in your hotel bathroom.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story.

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