Are you familiar with the concept of “hygge”? Pronounced like “hoo-gah,” hygge refers to a concept of coziness and comfort. The word has Scandinavian origins and is most closely associated with Denmark, although the idea isn’t foreign in other Scandinavian countries like Norway or Sweden. Hygge isn’t so much about minimalism as it is about just feeling good, and it can even be used to describe an indulgent experience. So, if you want to get in on this hygge business, these might be the five best cities for the trend.
Of course, for the most authentic hygge experience, you should head to Scandinavia. And one particular city you might enjoy is the Swedish capital. The nation that brought you Ikea and sometimes impossible furniture to build knows a thing or two about comfort and relaxing retreats. Downtown Camper is a hotel located in this bustling city that makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a calming oasis.
Communal spaces throughout the hotel are designed to evoke serenity while maintaining a minimalist aesthetic that the country has effectively exported for years. While you’re here, stop by the Nest Wellness center on the rooftop and indulge in their sauna, outdoor pool, and experience showers.
New York City, New York
You might be surprised that an American city would even make this list, but when you realize it’s New York, it should all be very clear. New York is the perfect place to experience cultural influences from around the world. So, when hygge vacations rose in popularity, hoteliers and restaurateurs in the City That Never Sleeps knew how to embrace the trend.
What’s cozier than warm, freshly baked cookies? Now imagine if you could do that in a bar. PHD Terrace Rooftop Bar at the Dream Hotel Midtown knows how to bring this to life—complete with a seasonal cookie skillet and warm blankets to ward off any chill in the air. If rooftops aren’t your thing, head downtown to The Jane Hotel and bask in the rustic-themed ballroom that somehow pairs overstuffed leather chairs and velvet chaises with a giant disco ball.
For those who prefer a more authentic hygge experience, head back to Scandinavia. But this time, stop in the seaside city of Copenhagen and drop by the Tivoli Gardens. While it’s not an indoor activity, this attraction will give you an immersive experience that will make you feel like you’re one of the Danes. The gardens first began in 1843 and are open year round, even in the winter. During warmer months, you can enjoy the expertly manicured gardens, rides, and concerts. In the winter, you can take in the light shows and tasty treats from the vendors.
And if you plan your trip just right, there are special events that take place on select holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, and Easter. Regardless of when you visit, the Tivoli Gardens are home to Copenhagen’s largest selection of restaurants in one space. Drop by the Tivoli Food Hall if you want to taste as many foods as possible in one place. Or, if you want a more tranquil experience, opt for the Nimb Brasserie for a relaxing sit-down meal.
Continuing on, no hygge-focused trip is complete without a stop in Oslo. Once the home of the 1994 Winter Olympics, Oslo is best known as a world-class winter vacation town. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can’t get more hygge in Norway than with an ice bath. This might seem intimidating, but it’s actually a great way to re-center and focus on mindfulness. In and around Oslo there are plenty of places where travelers can indulge in an ice bath among the nation’s fjords.
You might be surprised to find that there are a variety of real health benefits from taking a dip in frigid water. While it might sound counterintuitive, the occasional chilly swim can actually boost immunity, exfoliate your skin, and improve circulation. And the best part is the warm shower after you leave the cold water. While there are plenty of local ice bathing groups in Oslo, you can also coordinate with local tourism groups to plan your own personal ice bath experience.
Eilean Shona, Scotland
Rounding out this list, we head to Scotland. If you’re not a fan of hotels and you want something that feels personal and more like a relaxing vacation, Eilean Shona—a remote island off the coast of Scotland—has the perfect cottage rentals. While there is Wi-Fi in the communal village hall, the individual cottages don’t have internet access to help you better disconnect, reset, and immerse yourself in the nature of the island.
Eilean Shona is only 5 miles wide, but their network of cottages ranges from buildings that have been repurposed into vacation homes to traditional houses that always served a residential purpose. There are no roads on the island, so vacationers must leave their cars on the mainland and take a ferry. Keep in mind that the Eilean Shona’s vacation season is from March through October. However, the pet-friendly locale does make exceptions for New Year’s guests.