Discovering Hygge with Högl
Finding inner calm on Norderney
Kristin Hesse travelled with Högl to Norderney and quickly went from a hygge sceptic to a hygge convert.
Hygge has been in fashion in Denmark since the beginning of the last century, and now, the trend for all things ‘hyggelig’ has also caught on elsewhere. As someone who loves the summer, I’ve associated this phenomenon, up to now, with Scandinavian furniture stores’ attempts to make winter more appealing with scented candles, throws and cushions. However, sweet mulled wine and the smell of vanilla and cookies for four months have never really been able to lift my spirits – I admit it, hygge makes me grumpy.
My preconceptions about the (German) hype surrounding hygge, however, were challenged this year during a very special trip. Högl invited me and a few fellow bloggers – we’re almost like family – to the East Frisian island of Norderney, to spend a few cosy days together and to discover Högl’s shoe collection.
A quick look at my weather app – which forecast gale-force winds and rain – made me realise that snuggly warm clothes are absolutely essential on Norderney. As anticipated, the ferry crossing was rough, and as we set foot on the island, we were greeted by a violent downpour. It stopped as quickly as it had started. “That’s what it’s like on Norderney”, our hosts from Staatsbad Norderney, who welcomed us warmly, explained. Nevertheless, I hunkered down into my coat.
Arriving at the Inselloft Norderney hotel, I cast my initial doubts aside. The hotel is a real seaside gem and was completely to my taste: bright, cosy, welcoming – and yes, hygge.
In case you don’t know, ‘hygge’ is Danish and Norwegian and describes a feeling of contentment and well-being. And that’s just what I felt as I shared a glass of wine with the Högl family and had the honour of unwrapping the shoes. As a meal at the ‘White Dune’ restaurant had been arranged for the evening, I opted for Högl’s elegant, caramel DYNASTY boots, which I teamed with a wrap skirt from Ganni and a warm polo-neck jumper. I've never had a pair of boots that exude as much femininity as these beautifully snug-fitting stiletto boots. I had to hold on tight to my hat though – well, at least outside the hotel door.
The following morning, bright sunshine and a glorious azure sky tempted me out from underneath a warm feather duvet. I decided on a checked dress, a warm faux fur jacket and my absolute favourites – Högl’s SOLIST bootees – which I doubt I’ll take off again this winter.
After a delicious breakfast, we headed out to explore the island. People often say that the North Germans are a little reserved, but nothing could be further from the truth. With great passion and humour, our guide Ernie told us all about ‘his’ East Frisian island and I had the sense that what he was talking about was something that I often forget when I’m in the city or on my travels: the deep connection between humans and nature, and an inner calm.
Norderney is part of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park, a unique ecosystem, which UNESCO declared a Natural World Heritage Site in 2009. Protecting the island’s vegetation and wildlife is therefore a top priority. As a result, I started to see the island in a completely different light. Suddenly I noticed how good the air made me feel, the roar of the sea, the infinite expanse of the beach and the crunch of the sand beneath my boots.
“Suddenly I noticed how good the air made me feel, the roar of the sea, the infinite expanse of the beach and the crunch of the sand beneath my boots.”
And I noticed just how lovely it was to get back in the warm after wandering through the dunes, to spend hours talking and exchanging ideas with other people, and to eat consciously and healthily.
I particularly liked the hotel’s ‘Esszimmer’ (‘dining room’) restaurant concept with its motto: ‘Eating with Friends’. We dined at a long table and were able to stop by the open kitchen for a chat at any time. Suddenly, hygge took on a completely different meaning – snuggled up, sitting together and talking – while the wind whistled and the sea crashed outside.
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