Cozy Contentment

The Danish concept of hygge is perfectly at home in Jackson Hole.

Cozy Contentment

The Danish concept of hygge is perfectly at home in Jackson Hole.

By Joohee muromcew • Photography by bradly j. boner

The centerpiece of hygge is a welcoming fire warming up your woolly socks and slippers.

For those hardy souls who weathered some or all of our epic winter of 2017—Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) closed for five days?!—there were some silver linings on those storm clouds. Despite knee-deep fresh pow every forty-five minutes, with JHMR closed and avalanche conditions rated high, locals and visitors alike found themselves forced to rest and nest. The demands of school, work, errands, and chores faded, if just for a day or two, and we got our hygge on like a village of Lego designers, even if we didn’t know the word for it, or, if we did, didn’t know how to pronounce it (FYI, it’s HOO-gah).

Hygge, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being [regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture].” It is a noun that is also used as a verb. Hyggelig is the adjective. Compound word combinations can elevate even your saggy-bottomed sweatpants into hyggebusker, Danish for that cherished pair of comfy pants that you only wear at home.

And the idea of hygge is getting huge. The word was on the Oxford Dictionaries 2016 Word of the Year shortlist.

Hygge is more loving and cuddly than “chilling out,” and you can’t buy it from the Vermont Country Store catalog. Meik Wiking, founder of a Danish think tank called The Happiness Research Institute, describes hygge as “an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world, and allow ourselves to let our guard down.” Widely regarded as the happiest people across the globe, Danes know their happiness like Argentinians know a good steak.

Jackson is a naturally hygge place. Our small-town commitment to community and seasonal demands for cozying up with a hot drink mean a wealth of hygge spots. Here are four very different hyggelig corners:

Nordic Cabin at Trail Creek Ranch

Perhaps the most authentically hygge place in the valley, Trail Creek Ranch is a protected 270-acre ranch in Wilson, largely under conservation easement, and is also the training ground for the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club’s (JHSC) Nordic team. The Nordic trails, which are groomed daily during the season, are open to the public, as is the welcoming Nordic cabin at the ranch’s entrance at the Old Pass Road. Inside, you’ll likely find a crackling fire in the cast-iron stove, a former Olympian or two in woolly Fair Isle sweaters waxing skis and telling bad jokes, and JHSC Nordic Program Director Ben Morley sipping green tea at his desk. If Ben is out chasing moose, you can leave the daily fee in the wooden box by the door (so hyggelig).

Knit on Pearl

Knit on Pearl is a quiet oasis in downtown Jackson for every kind of knitter, from beginners with three thumbs to artisans crafting wares for art shows. This knitting and needle-arts supply store serves as a soothing gathering place to ask questions of one of the expert employees, admire finished projects for sale, take classes or private lessons, and also to sit and knit. Most afternoons will find two or three knitters sitting in the comfy armchairs in jovial conversation over the gentle click-clack of their needles. Pick up a Loopy Mango big loop hat kit to make an adorable chunky pom-pom hat, which is totally doable in about an hour. “Owner and calming influence” Margaret Brady is there to help.

Cowboy Coffee

Few places are more hygge than the perfect coffee shop. Meet Cowboy Coffee, the kind of unassuming coffee shop local coffee aficionados would like to keep a secret. Cowboy Coffee roasts its own beans, and its baristas are knowledgeable without the snark. Modestly tucked away near the northwest corner of the Town Square, Cowboy Coffee serves outstanding coffee and espresso drinks in the most unpretentious, sit-for-hours kind of comfort. Evenings are often set aside as open mic nights for ukulele-strumming locals, and the walls display work from up-and-coming area artists. If you must have your breakfast meetings there, keep it down!

Anvil Hotel

With a recent change in ownership and a complete décor refresh, the Anvil’s stylishly low-key vibe is warm and welcoming, and just a couple blocks from the Town Square. Even if you are not staying in one of its “Alpine modern” guestrooms, stop by the inviting lobby, which doubles as a lounge space/general store, to hygge by the wood stove with a steaming cup of coffee. The artfully curated store features perfect shearling slippers, big wool blankets, and floppy mittens alongside light outing gear that manages to be sleek and rugged at once. The Anvil also offers or can help facilitate authentic outdoorsy experiences, like a wildlife tour with a biologist or a snowshoe tour of the park. Don’t worry—you can wear your hyggebusker for board games and wine in the lobby afterwards.


Meik Wiking describes an almost ideal hygge in his book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. It will sound familiar to Jackson locals: “I was spending the weekend with some friends at an old cabin. The shortest day of the year was brightened by the blanket of snow covering the surrounding landscape. … We were all tired after hiking and were half asleep, sitting in a semicircle around the fireplace in the cabin, wearing big sweaters and woolen socks. The only sounds you could hear were the stew boiling, the sparks from the fireplace, and someone having a sip of mulled wine.” The only thing missing was a raging storm.

Hygge is not a lifestyle aesthetic that can be purchased, but there are many traditional accoutrements you can buy to complement the love and company of friends and family. Fires, candles, big sweaters and socks, wine, and cake are hygge standards. Here’s our guide to taking some Jackson Hole hygge home with you:

• Unscented candles (never scented!), like the beeswax candles from Market at Vertical Harvest, are key. 155 W. Simpson Ave., from $18

• Start a fire with long matchsticks from Pearl Street Market. 40 W. Pearl Ave., $8

• Put on big woolly socks from Skinny Skis and a soft flannel shirt from Stio. Socks at 65 W. Deloney Ave., from $5; Stio shirts at 10 E. Broadway, from $99

• Wrap yourself in a Big Yarn blanket from Mountain Dandy. 125 N. Cache St., from $115

• Throw down a shaggy sheepskin rug from Overland Sheepskin Co. 86 E. Broadway, from $99

• Find a perfect wine to mull from Bin22. 200 W. Broadway, from $8

• Serve lots of pretty cakes from Jackson Whole Grocer. 1155 US-89, whole cakes from $17

• Serve steaming cups of coffee in Danish painted cups from Picnic. 1110 Maple Way, Suite B, from $30

Light some unscented—never scented—beeswax candles to set the mood.
Put on a well-worn flannel. Few things are as hygge as flannel shirts.