When I first heard about Hygge, I didn't really see the relevance of it. So Danish people celebrate cosiness, who cares? But the more I look into this concept, the more I realise it encapsulates all that is good and healthy for the development of individuals, and of businesses.
Hygge is clearly a new thing to me, so maybe I'm missing the mark a bit. But to me, it encapsulates all of the things that bring happiness and meaning into our lives: living in the present moment, appreciating little things that make your day better and having gratitude for those precious moments.
With times being tough for many, it is interesting to see an increasing number of people adopting Hygge principles in the way they spend their money. More and more people are looking for provenance and high quality in their products. We are increasingly aware of how we want to spend our money, and to what purpose. We want to spend our hard-earned cash with people who care about what they do and their impact on the local economy.
Being Vocal in spending Local
For many, normal day-to-day spending has been restructured to create the most benefit to the local area. As a social introvert, I truly love being social with people, but it is something that does not come without its difficulty.
When chatting to my friends in a public place, it doesn't take long for the everyday hubbub to drown out the conversation. Pretty soon after the night has started I am straining to hear anything. With all the effort I put in to keep pace with what is happening, I can quickly feel drained and need to go home to 'recharge' my social muscles.
It would be great for me to find a place with minimal background noise; no TV, no darts boards, no puggies (gaming machines). The idea of finding a place that replicates the cosiness of home is really appealing to me. Not only because it will be relaxing, but because my social muscles will be able to pace themselves for longer. I'll be able to stay out for a longer. The days of my friends scowling at me for going home before them will be long gone.
What I am looking for in a Hygge Hideout is not the typical aul-mannie (old man) pub, for which Scotland is renowned. A tried-and-tested method for discovering these great places is to go alone. If it's the kind of place where you can be by yourself and not feel self-conscious, then that's a good start. Yet it will only be a true Hygge Hideout if it feels like a sanctuary from all the craziness, and you feel you could comfortably stay there for hours.
The Tippling House - Belmont Street, Aberdeen
Photo by Jayne Carmichael Norrie
For those Aberdonians that remember when Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm at Pittodrie, you may also remember The Tippling House was formerly known as The Belmont: a bar known to host many people from Aberdeen's seedy underworld. But what a transformation! This is no longer an HQ for Aberdeen's rogues, but an underground cavern of wonder.
The Tippling House is a specialist Whisky bar, with its sister bar Rye & Soda being the Gin bar. Even though I'm a Gin fan I prefer The Tippling House; it feels more cozy, it's smaller and feels more intimate. From the comfy stools and exposed wooden beams of the roof, there is a feeling a lot of thought has gone into making this place welcoming, and encouraging you to stay. They may not be a Gin bar, but they still had 20 different Premium Gins in their back bar; plenty for a real Gin connoisseur to be happy with.
On my visit with Gin Room Aberdeen Meetup Group I had a Loch Ness Gin and tonic. It was Batch No.1 of a brand new Gin producer, which tells me this place is serious about supporting local businesses and giving them a platform to showcase their produce. That is also seen in the way The Tippling House has nurtured local talent such as Andy Stewart to become Mixologist of the Year, and having local beers such as Deeside Brewery on their taps.
Our group was made to feel really welcome. Even though we didn't book ahead, a booth was found for us by the staff. They were happy to chat with us about the Gins they had, and even guided some of our new Meetup members to our table when they weren't sure where we were. I could easily spend all night in The Tippling House. For a social introvert like me, it was easy to have a chat and not feel exhausted, there was such an unpressured and welcoming atmosphere.
Almondine - Thistle Street, Aberdeen
This place is what Aberdeen really needs right now. Every time I venture into the City Centre you can see the results of the economic downturn; several businesses have closed down, and there are a few more empty shop spaces on Union Street.
But, on the other hand, there has never been a better time to visit Aberdeen. The cost of living has decreased considerably, and hotel rates are have never been more affordable as they are now. You could have a great weekend visit in Aberdeen for less than half the price it would have cost just over a year ago. There are so many wonderful businesses you can discover in Aberdeen, and Almondine should be your first visit for some lovely treats.
The first time I visited Almondine was to scope it out as a Hygge hideout. So many of my friends has raved about it, but I always thought it would be a bit too posh for me. It's a lovely place, but it's not posh. It is amazingly clean and tidy, and you can tell the people who own it really care about making the experience as great as possible for their customers. The people that own it clearly take pride in what they do, but it's not pretentious by any means. I walked in my 'working from home' scruffy clothes and was made to feel really welcome. The waitresses behind the counter were very helpful in explaining all of the specials that were available that day; from home-made quiches, sandwiches and about eight different flavours of macaron.
Oh my god, seriously, the macarons. Worth the trip on their own. Amazing.
I ordered a trio of Salted Caramel, Pink Peppercorn and Vanilla. My favourite one was the Pink Peppercorn. I guess that wouldn't be many people's first choice, but I thought it matched really well with my Flat White. A nice subtle peppery sweetness matched beautifully with the roasted flavor of my coffee.
Just to make sure Almondine was a true Hygge hideout, I hung around after I had finished all of my food and coffee. I sat there, using their free wi-fi to catch up on a couple of emails, and looking pretty dorky taking pictures on my ipad of the cute sugar bowl. But the staff made me feel just as welcome as when I walked in. I can't wait to go back there, and this time I'm going to try every macaron on the menu!