Although it’s a word that defies direct translation, hygge has, nonetheless, become part of our collective consciousness. With so much confusion over how to pronounce this Danish term, people can only agree that the combination of coziness, comfort and contentment evokes a certain feeling. Around here, it would take the form of a snowy winter evening in the mountains, settled into a comfortable chair in a warm, inviting space, enjoying good food in the company of near and dear ones, all dressed down in sweaters and Sorels.
Nestle in at one of these restaurants in Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise to know the pleasures of dining, hygge-style.
Miner’s Lamp Pub at the Georgetown Inn, Canmore
At Miner’s Lamp, hygge takes the form of an English pub crossed with a rustic winter cabin inside a quaint Tudor-style inn. Tuck into a ploughman’s platter, some Scotch eggs or the requisite fish and chips (with halibut, even) from the comfort-food-focused menu. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a spot by the fireplace.
1101 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore, 403-678-3439, georgetowninn.ca
Sage Bistro and Wine Lounge, Canmore
Once a log-cabin show home, this Canmore favourite echoes its past with robust log walls and sturdy beams. Upstairs, the wine lounge offers a smaller menu of charcuterie and share plates, perfect for an aprs-ski stop. The downstairs bistro is a snug space where curry bowls share the menu with steak frites and Alberta baby back ribs. A solid wine list makes it easy to settle in for the evening, though don’t discount heading there in the morning; the filling breakfast bowls will warm you up for your day in the mountains.
1712 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore, 403-678-4878, sagebistro.ca
The Trough, Canmore
The diminutive room exudes a sense of snugness, while the elevated comfort food will warm you from the inside out. Like the small space, The Trough features a curated menu of dishes that borrows flavours for a worldly approach while still managing to cover every cold-weather craving. The smell of fresh bread, made daily in-house, adds to the restaurant’s cozy vibe, as do the mouth-watering aromas coming from the open kitchen.
725 9 St., Canmore, 403-678-2820, thetrough.ca
The Maple Leaf Grill and Lounge, Banff
The river-rock wall and fireplace and the thick, amber-coloured wooden beams evoke a hunting lodge, but it’s the hearty platters of steak and towering trays of seafood that will have you really feeling content. If you’re in search of deep snug, stick to the downstairs lounge with its long wooden bar curving through the room and wingback-style chairs that beckon you to settle in.
137 Banff Ave., Banff, 403-760-7680, banffmapleleaf.com
Waldhaus Pub and Patio, Banff
Head below the more formal Waldhaus Restaurant at the Fairmont Banff Springs to its more humble sister spot, the Waldhaus Pub and Patio. Set in the same cottage-style building behind the regal hotel, the pub is a comfortable spot to grab beer in a boot or a serving of sausage and sptzle. Cozy up to the long, dark-wood bar or round up some friends for a free game of pool.
405 Spray Ave., Banff, 403-762-2211, fairmont.com/banff-springs
Fondue Stbli, Lake Louise
Literally translated, “stbli” means small, cozy room and this spot lives up to its moniker. It feels like a little log cabin tucked up into the Post Hotel, with sturdy beams, wooden walls and a fireplace keeping the cold weather at bay. Strings of lights twinkling from the ceiling over the handful of tables add to the magic, making for a warm and intimate evening huddling over bubbling fondue pots of cheese, broth or chocolate.
200 Pipestone Rd., Lake Louise, 403-522-3989, posthotel.com