Welcome to the embassy of Hygge

HYGGE (”Heu-Gah”)

The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open-hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. Celebrating the everyday.


Five years ago, I was looking for a place to work in Brussels that would be as cosy and friendly as my home, but with the added bonus of other people and office infrastructure. I wanted it to be a place, where you would feel personally welcomed, where you could snack on something homemade, where people had obviously made an effort before your visit and where your shoulders would drop to a normal level and you would catch yourself humming for no good reason. Sum up all of that and you get the essence of ’hygge’.


Over the years, the word hygge (I’ll drop the ’’ now that you get the idea) has become more and more widespread and has even made it into the Collins English Dictionary topping the list of new words in 2016 – right after Brexit. Which funnily enough is exactly the opposite of hygge, but that’s another subject. It’s even become well known in Belgium, although the actual definition seems somewhat hazy to people. Some think it’s like a sport you practice – Nordic mindfulness if you will. Some think it’s mainly about cakes. A journalist even called me recently to interview me about how to add hygge to an evaluation meeting with your boss. Which, for the record, you can’t really do. It’s not a magic wand, people. Lighting a candle, pouring tea, smiling and each other and then discussing lack of performance just doesn’t mix all that well.


Anyway, I thought I’d make an un-prioritised list of moments of hygge that you can cross-reference with your Library experience at your leisure:


  • Friends invite you over for dinner. When you arrive, there is music playing, the table has been set, there is something cooking in the kitchen. Glasses and snacks are already on the table. Your friends sit you down and ask how you are, like really are. Do you see the effort and attention that went into this? It means you are all set for a hyggelig evening.
  • It’s been a long week and you are a bit edgy and stressed out, but some of your coworkers ask you along for Friday drinks and you end up talking and joking for an hour or two, while having a few drinks. When you leave you feel a bit lighter and ready to start the weekend (you’d be surprised by how much drinking goes on at Danish workplaces).
  • It’s raining outside, you light some candles and tell the kids to come help you make pancakes. The togetherness mixed with sugar and jam contrasted with the cold, dark outdoors makes this super hygge. (It works best with some dark, Nordic winter outside, maybe also some trees swaying in a storm).
  • Your colleague has a birthday coming up, so you conspire with your coworkers to get a cake (homemade or bought, it doesn’t matter, it’s the thought that counts) and you all sit down to enjoy it together, leaving emails, phone calls and bosses be for half an hour to enjoy making somebody else’s day.
  • Surroundings: You can create hygge by adding personality to your home or office, such as adding artwork that means something to you, incorporating textiles and smaller lamps rather than overhead lighting, making sure it smells nice everywhere and that you are not too stressed out by clutter.

I think you see a trend here that hygge is about making a small effort for somebody else or for yourself to make your day just a little better. I hope that this is what you feel when you step into The Library, even if you didn’t know that it had a weird, unpronounceable name.




Copenhagen City Guide

So you’ve become used to the ambience of ‘hygge’ (well-being and cosyness) at The Library. You’re enjoying the Danish lamps in coworking and in your private offices. Or you’ve tasted the cakes during your day in our meeting rooms. And you are wondering if it might be time to tap into the source of Danish happiness and visit Copenhagen. Here is my very personal and thoroughly tested once and for all Copenhagen City Guide.

Where to stay

Book a stay via Airbnb.com. Look around the lively area of Nørrebro, slightly posher Østerbro or gritty and hip Vesterbro.

Bonus info: I can promise you that you will not find naked light bulbs or horrendous kitchens anywhere. Danish people treat interior decoration like a religion: Something to revere, cherish and spend a lot of money on.

Or why not check out the small Danish chain of design hotels: http://www.brochner-hotels.dk

Bonus info: Both my sisters work there!

For a stay in 100% luxury and magic, check into Nimb Hotel in the Tivoli Gardens: http://www.nimb.dk

Bonus info: They put fresh flowers in their müsli and live peacocks entertain you if you eat on the terrace.

Where to eat

As you might know by now, I love porcelain. Probably from my time working for Royal Copenhagen. If you also prefer your coffee in crispy white porcelain with hand painted illustrations, then head for The Royal Café on the main shopping street of Strøget. Hidden away in a courtyard between the Royal Copenhagen and the Georg Jensen shops, you can enjoy cakes and Danish open-faced sandwiches in beautiful surroundings. http://www.royalsmushicafe.dk

In general, Copenhagen is full of great places to eat. Oh and the bakeries…be sure to try fresh bread or kanelboller (scrumptious cinnamon buns). Here are a few of my favourites:

Danish specialities, from Claus Meyer (co-founder of Noma): http://www.meyersmad.dk/spis-ude/deli/gl.-kongevej/

Chain of restaurants with THE BEST SUSHI and fantastic menus and entertainment for kids: http://www.sushi.dk

Madklubben litereally means ‘the food club’ and their slogan is ‘honesty has the best taste’, you can’t disagree with that…http://madklubben.dk

For a Paleo-style lunch, a quick ginger shot, some lumpfish roe or regional cheeses, candy or even soap products, take a stroll through the covered market of Torvehallerne…https://torvehallernekbh.dk

Amazing restaurants all of them, tremendous, the best! http://cofoco.dk

You know I like baked goods…: http://mirabelle-bakery.dk and http://lagkagehuset.dk

Where to shop

Where to not, I ask you. Here are some more of my favourites: For design classics, head to the mothership: https://www.illumsbolighus.com

Forget Inno, in Copenhagen the department stores rock: http://www.magasin.dk and http://illum.dk

For more unique pieces and little illustrations or art works, visit the tiny shops of http://www.anneblack.dk or http://vaerkstedet.getshopflow.com or Handcraftedcph (a Facebook profile, but no homepage). I also like the Danish brands Ganni, Designers Remix, Malene Birger, Baum & Pferdgarten and many more.

What to do

There is so much to see and do in Copenhagen that I don’t know where to start. Did you know that there is an enormous beach? And you can swim in the harbour? Take a train up to world famous art museum Louisiana? Admire architecture and bridges all day long? Rent a bike (don’t worry, many of them are electrical) and visit all the lakes of Christianshavn? Admire the cutest little castle and the crown jewels in the middle of the city? Browse antique shops and find new treasures on Nørrebro?

I can’t even pick a favourite neighbourhood, because I’ve lived all over the city and every area holds memories for me. But check out events and suggestions here: http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen-tourist?_ga=1.198520751.1260462050.1433677102 or here http://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/tourist-frontpage or here http://www.aok.dk/english


What to say

Hello =             Hej

Good-bye =                    Hej, hej (easy, right?)

Thank you =                  Tak

See you =                       Vi ses

Now you are ready! Enjoy your trip to Denmark.


Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up to date with all Library news and events