9 bucket-list trips to get peak hygge this winter

It’s officially cozy season

Henningsvær village in the Lofoten Islands in Nordland County, Norway. (iStock)

It can only mean one thing now that temperatures are dropping and nights are getting longer: Cozy season is here. The arrival of winter heralds automatic permission to tap into what the Danish termed “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah), which describes a feeling of coziness and comfort. Basically, it’s time to get comfy to the point of bliss.

Hygge’s championing of snug contentment has become the preeminent goal for how to pass the chilliest months, and for good reason. “Some classic elements of the ideal hygge setting include a cozy fireplace, dim candlelight, fluffy blankets, warm beverages, gently falling snow outside and good company,” said Signe Thorup, public relations manager at d’Angleterre hotel in Copenhagen. What better way to spend a cold, icy winter?

A local's guide to Copenhagen

From Alaska to New England to remote Norwegian islands, here’s where you should go to tap into your inner Scandinavian. Don’t forget to pack a pair of wool socks.

Copenhagen

As the originator of hygge, Denmark is the first place to go when seeking the cozy life. Head to the luxurious d’Anglaterre hotel, which has been providing a hygge home base in Copenhagen since 1755. For nearly 300 years, they have mastered the art of warming people up while the Nordic winter rages outside. While faux fur throws await in the guest rooms, it’s the upper lobby where you will find a picture-perfect old fireplace surrounded by comfy chairs, candelabras with real candles — best enjoyed with the hotel’s famous housemade glogg (warm spiced wine). It’s also worth braving the cold and dark to see how Copenhagen dresses up the famous Tivoli Gardens for the festive season.

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Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada

Modern architecture perched on the shores of Newfoundland? Check. In-room fireplaces and hand-quilted blankets? Check. Community-based philosophy in which monetary surpluses are reinvested locally? Super check! Fogo Island Inn encapsulates a Scandinavian way of thinking from the decor to the business operations, but it is all Canadian. Once guests arrive to this island off an island, they can curl up with a pair of binoculars to watch the seabirds tempt the cold sea waters below, or unwind in the sauna and hot tubs after a day of berry picking, boat building or petting the resident Newfie dog.

Nordland County, Norway

Wintertime in a picturesque northern Norwegian fjord easily lends itself to a hygge atmosphere. An essential stop in Nordland County is Vesteralen’s Kvitnes Gard, where renowned Norwegian chef Halvar Ellingsen has converted the family farm into a cozy restaurant featuring 20 to 25 courses of imaginative, locally sourced cuisine. The 30-person restaurant has guests remove their shoes at the door and put on warm wool socks to wear while dining, sitting by the fireplace or staring out at the icy sea. The coziest, most Norwegian way to experience Nordland’s many beautiful destinations is via Hurtigruten’s Norwegian Coastal Express; the intimate cabins even feature heated bathroom floors and Ellingsen’s signature dishes can be found onboard.

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Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

The remote Svalbard is perched so far north that one has to look south to see the Northern lights, so winters here require a healthy dose of hygge to get through it. Fortunately, it’s a Norwegian territory, and thus imbued with Scandinavian sensibilities that lend themselves to coziness. Book a room at comfy-chic Funken Lodge for some extended time in front of the lobby fireplace and with the polar literature-filled library. If you’re willing to brave the very real risk of polar bears with the help of a gun-toting guide, a dinner of reindeer stew and lively tales of Arctic exploration at Camp Barentz should not be missed. And for the coziest cuddle in all of Longyearbyen, stop by Cafe Huskies, where well-behaved sled dogs snooze inside.

Newport, R.I.

New England winters may be best spent indoors, but Newport, R.I., leans into the inclement weather by channeling its hygge side. The Chanler at Cliff Walk runs winter culinary experiences in the property’s three heated yurts overlooking the ocean, plus offers an apple cider bar as winter approaches. Many of Newport’s hotels, like Forty 1 North and the Hydrangea House Inn, maintain the comfortable features of the Gilded Age, such as in-room fireplaces. Besides the lack of Northern Lights, Newport is the perfect stateside hygge destination.

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Northern Iceland

Iceland may have gained independence from Denmark in the 1940s, but this Nordic island nation still embodies the hygge lifestyle. Throw on a traditional lopapeysa (Icelandic wool sweater) and head north to Deplar Farm on the Troll Peninsula to experience next-level hygge. Despite the intense winters and long nights Iceland is known for, the luxury hotel ensures guests stay warm with in-room fireplaces, beds draped in sheepskins and an open-air geothermal pool. There’s also a Viking sauna and a communal “hang space” with its own fireplace, full library and plenty of blankets.

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Telluride, Colo.

Colorado ski towns are hygge incarnate, and Telluride is one of the best. Surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks and peppered with Victorian architecture, it’s almost easy to believe you’re actually in Europe. The ski slopes are world famous, but to really tap into the Scandinavian factor, book a dog-sledding experience, go ice skating in the Mountain Village or book a stay at Dunton Town House. For extra hygge, add a night at Dunton Hot Springs for their Winter Wonderland experience, which includes snowshoeing, hot chocolate and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

Girdwood, Alaska

Alaska can feel a world away, especially when the seasons change. Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, famous for its ski slopes, opened the state’s first Nordic spa, which builds upon the already cozy vibe of the hotel. Built into the surrounding forest, guests can now access six outdoor hot and cold wooden tubs, two large barrel saunas and two banya saunas. The design is to encourage connection with nature, and as a way to embrace winter instead of hiding from it.

Swedish Lapland

In Sweden, hygge has a double meaning. While they embrace the cozy contentment of their neighbors, it also means “cutting area,” or the land that remains once trees are cut down. In the Swedish Lapland town of Harads, a new floating spa resort called Arctic Bath channels Sweden’s timber history into a comfortably luxurious place to relax and recharge. Cabins include pellet stoves and heated floors, and access to the two outdoor hot tubs that make Northern lights viewing a truly hygge experience.

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