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Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word that doesn't have a direct English equivalent, but it is often translated as a feeling of coziness, comfort, and contentment.
It represents a cultural concept that encompasses a sense of well-being and creating a warm atmosphere.
Hygge is more than just a physical state; it's also about the experience of warmth, togetherness, and the enjoyment of simple pleasures.
Hygge can be found in various aspects of life, such as enjoying a cup of hot tea by the fireplace, spending quality time with loved ones, or creating a cozy and inviting home environment.
It's about finding joy in the little things and creating a sense of peace and harmony in your surroundings.
Embracing hygge is a way to cultivate a positive and relaxed mindset, especially during colder or darker seasons.
The concept has gained popularity beyond Denmark and Norway, and people around the world have adopted the idea of hygge as a lifestyle and design philosophy.
I first discovered hygge when I was planning my trip to Copenhagen in 2023.
I was looking for a walking tour to book and found one on GetYourGuide. It was a "Hygge and Happiness Culture Tour" through Copenhagen with a local guide.
The guide was a friendly girl named Amilia who taught us what hygge exactly is by showing us around Copenhagen. She showed us her favorite places in the city.
The concept is very interesting but difficult to understand through a walking tour with a group of people while walking through the busy streets of Copenhagen.
But after letting the concept sink in, I slowly started to feel what hygge means.
I even recounted some moments that I felt "hyggeligt."
I had already experienced my first moments of hygge during that same trip to Copenhagen. I just did not realize until I got more into it.
I was staying in a hotel with a nice lobby, a restaurant, and a bar.
Upon returning to the hotel, I would drop my backpack in my room and head to the bar for a drink.
The bartenders were friendly and were always up for a chat. I enjoyed spending time at the bar while enjoying local beers, updating my travel diary, and chatting with the bartenders.
Doing this gave me such a feeling of cozyness and comfort that I kept doing this every night.
A month later, I went on a trip to the Baltic States and tried to accomplish the same result. At every hotel that had a bar, I sat down at the bar, ordered a drink, and tried to talk to the bartenders while updating my travel diary.
This time, my experience was a bit different, though. The Baltic people are very reserved and don't just walk up to you to chat.
Danes are also very reserved, but the bartenders at the hotel bar in Copenhagen were expats. Two of the bartenders were a guy called Uriel and a girl called Lisa. Both were super friendly. Lisa came from Northern Ireland, and Uriel from Southern Europe.
But in the Baltics, it was difficult to get that same hygge feeling.
Until four months later.
It was a Sunday night.
I had dinner in Riga at a restaurant called Salve, enjoying great food and a few shots of Riga Black Balsam.
When I left the restaurant, I went for a walk through Riga's Old Town, something that I did every evening before going back to my hotel.
I discovered some street musicians that were playing famous songs on string instruments. Metallica, Coldplay, and I cannot remember the rest. It was so good that I stayed listening for a while. I was slowly getting hyggeligt.
I was close to the Freedom Monument, such a majestic monument with a statue of a woman looking over Riga's Old Town. It looks even better at night.
But behind the monument, I saw the Radisson Blu Hotel with the Skyline Bar on the 26th floor. It was already getting late, but the bar was still open. I decided to go there and have a few drinks before bed.
It was relatively quiet inside the bar, and I sat down on a very comfy couch. A friendly waitress asked what I wanted to drink. I ordered a "Clavis Riga" (or "Keys of Riga").
While I sat there, enjoying this delicious cocktail with Riga Black Balsam, rhubarb liqueur, white chocolate, pomegranate syrup, and apple juice, I got so hyggeligt. At the same time, I was updating my travel diary and reflecting on what a fantastic day this was.
The ambiance, the music, the waiter who made sure I always had a drink that matched my personal preference. Everything was perfect at that moment.
The evening before, I was having dinner at Province — my favorite restaurant in Riga.
I was enjoying Beef Stroganoff with delicious local Latvian beer. Latvian music was playing in the background, and the waitress was super friendly.
It was my second evening in Riga, and being immersed in Latvian culture made me realize that I was really in Riga — the city I fell in love with a couple of months ago.
Earlier that day, I had the pleasure of joining a food tour with a local guide in Riga's Central Market. I tasted a bunch of typical Latvian food and drinks and was completely immersed in the Latvian culture.
While sitting in this restaurant, I documented the fantastic day I had in Riga in my travel diary.
At that moment, I also felt so hyggeligt. Good food, great drinks, a friendly waitress to chat with, everything was perfect.
I enjoy having a drink at the end of the afternoon, whether it's after work or after a day of exploring a city.
Let's refer to this as a "relaxation drink."
I like having these relaxation drinks everywhere I go.
But especially at home.
I enjoy sitting on the couch, reflecting on the day, and savoring a drink — whether it's wine, beer, or hot chocolate, I don't mind. The key is to relax and enjoy the moment.
I have been working from home for a couple of years now — I love it.
But I have to make sure to split work and private. I only work in my home office, which is upstairs. Downstairs is private, so when I'm downstairs, I'm at "home."
I had colleagues who didn't have a home office or even a desk at home, so they were working at the dinner table. If you are familiar with standard Dutch houses, they are not very spacious, and the dinner table is usually very close to the living room.
These colleagues couldn't split work and private, so they hated working from home.
For me, that was different. By splitting work and private, I make sure that my living room is a place to get hyggeligt.
Hygge is a feeling of coziness, comfort, and contentment. A moment that allows you to let your guard down.
For me, this is a moment when I can feel relaxed. Whether it's at home having a drink on the couch at the end of the day, or in a hotel bar, having a local drink and chatting with the bartenders.
I only need a few things: a drink, a relaxed environment, and great memories to reflect on.