A great way to experience “hygge” and to be happy as a Dane is to spend time in Copenhagen’s lively old harbor, Nyhavn (New Harbor). Nyhavn is a “must go to” for both Danes and tourists. Whether its a sunny summer day or a cold winter evening, Nyhavn is a happy place to relax in one of the many cafes or just take a stroll along the water. This used to be the place where sailors took a break from the sea in one of the many bars. Even Hans Christian Andersen lived here for a long period of his life and wrote many of his famous fairytales like The Princess and the Pea. Since then it has been thoroughly renovated but the happy atmosphere lingers on – so much so that CNN has named it one of the 15 happiest places in the world.
This Christmas my husband and I were so lucky to spend one night of happiness in the most “hyggelige” hotel I have ever been in, right on the outer corner of Nyhavn with a view over the old harbor! 71 Nyhavn Hotel was luxurious and oozed with “hygge” – a perfect combination of old and modern. Just imagine wooden beams and Danish design furniture in the same place!
Even though my first instinct was to just stay in at this amazing hotel room my husband finally dragged me out to Nyhavn, Kongens Nytorv (The Kings Plaza) and the shopping area of inner Copenhagen. There is something really “hyggeligt” about being outside on a cold and dark evening looking at the many windows full of warm golden light and imagining all the “hygge” taking place inside those homes… Just take a look at the photos below and see if you can find some “hygge” there.
“Hyggelige” or not, the streets were also cold and windy so we were happy when we entered the old department store, Magasin, nearby. There is also something “hyggeligt” about Magasin – maybe it is the beautiful old building, maybe it is the pretty lights decorating it, or maybe it is the dimly lit basement where Claus Meyer has a bakery, cafe and sandwich bar and where you can find a lot of other delicious “hygge” foods, such as Summerbird chocolate, Johan Bulow licorice, a wine bar and a small supermarket. With enough money you can definitely enjoy life in Magasin. There are now two Joe & the Juice bars and in the spirit of the upcoming New Year there were even a champagne and cocktail bar on the upper floors… I could easily spend a whole day in Magasin.
After some “hygge” night-time shopping we walked down the old streets of inner Copenhagen to the restaurant Höst where we were going to enjoy our dinner. As soon as we saw the entrance of the restaurant we knew we were in for, not just a culinary experience, but also a “hyggelig” experience…
The first thing we noticed when we entered Höst was the smell of fire! Were they having a bonfire in there or just a new kind of smoke scented candles (not a bad idea btw)? Next thing we saw was a plate on fire! Literally. A table of excited guests were being served a dish with small juniper twigs on fire to give that “hyggelige” smoky flavor and scent!
Never have I been to a restaurant this dynamic and full of life! We had a table at 9 pm and left around 11 pm and it was packed the whole time! But the most exciting part was the food of course. From the moment we ordered the seasonal menu, exciting dishes and drinks started rolling in. There was no more than maybe five minutes of waiting between the dishes and each one of them took our tastebuds on a pleasant journey where they had never been before. I always thought it was kind of snobbish with these kinds of sophisticated little dishes but I was proven wrong. It was so fun and there were several times I heard my husband shout out loud with excitement. He is a food-lover, who claims to travel with his stomach, and he was blown away. So definitely, Höst is “the Noma for the masses” and I will recommend everyone to try it if they get the chance.
The next morning we woke up greeted by the bright harbor light outside our windows and the beautiful view of the old buildings. After an invigorating shot of Nespresso in our hotel room we stepped out to one of the happiest places in the world, Nyhavn and enjoyed some of the best pastries in the world at the bakery Lagkagehuset while watching the busy street life in the city of my heart. I could not have been a happier Dane.