Winter is a time for warming foods and feeling cozy. Get hygge on the West Coast at these breweries and places to stay on the BC Ale Trail.
Okay, so your first question is possibly hygge-what? So let’s start with that. Hygge—pronounced “hue-guh”— is the Danish concept of living well and being cozy and relaxed. The Danes are pretty with it, and Denmark was rated as one of the happiest countries in the world in 2017.
Wherever you are right now, picture this: the fireplace is crackling (in real life, or on a TV or computer screen) and you’ve got your best wooly socks on after a day of being outside exploring the city or hanging out with Mother Nature. Maybe some music is playing and you’re reading a really great book or having a hearty meal and conversation with your partner or a group of friends. And you feel amazing. That, my friends, is a version of hygge.
This is all to set the stage for me to share some of my favourite cozy and hygge places on the BC Ale Trail. British Columbia is an incredibly hyggelig and cozy place, particularly in the winter. I also love walking into a brewery, or any place, and just getting that vibe. There’s something so cozy about a fireplace or wood paneling and beams or exposed brick, don’t you think?
Without further ado, here are a few of my favourite hygge places on the BC Ale Trail, plus a few that are on my radar for 2020.
Hygge places on the BC Ale Trail
Because it’s where I live, let’s start with Victoria. Aside from the great beer and food, the coziness factor is what made my partner and I decide to have a staycation at Spinnakers Brewpub earlier in 2019. Because guess what? Not only is Spinnakers a gastro- and brewpub, it’s also a beautiful inn. With its log burning fireplace, our garden suite was a cozy oasis in the heart of the city. We didn’t want to leave—except for dinner and breakfast. Spinnakers has a great Cozy Up for Winter package that includes your evening and morning meals, plus a flight of their core beers paired with their decadent truffles.
Some other hygge craft beer spots that we frequent in Victoria are Swans Brewery, Pub and Hotel (who also have cozy looking accommodations), the Fernwood Inn, the Pennyfarthing Pub and The Drake Eatery. Each have their own nooks and cozy areas ideal for a date or to gather with a small group of friends after exploring the city.
The Sunshine Coast is one of my happy places. It’s actually where I really started to dig deep into all things hygge a few years ago—it’s a place where you can truly relax. We started that particular long weekend in Powell River, staying in the coziest Airbnb, and taking the Willingdon Beach Trail down to Townsite Brewing—a place that we’ve been to many times since. I’ve only been to Townsite in its expanded iteration with the exposed brick walls, but it started as a very snug tasting room. Townsite won the 2018 Best Brewery Experience Award for its atmosphere and hospitality, and it remains one of my favourite hygge places.
Conveniently located right across from Townsite Brewing is the Old Courthouse Inn, with its stunning antiques and beautifully restored rooms. Whether you stay there or not, be sure to get breakfast at Edie Rae’s Cafe, located just off the lobby. When I think about cozy, breakfast or brunch tends to pop to mind and they serve up an excellent English style fry-up.
A ferry ride south from Powell River is the Backeddy Resort and Marina in Egmont. While we haven’t had the opportunity to stay there yet, it’s on the list for 2020.
Down the highway in Gibsons, Persephone Brewing offers what I would call a farm to glass and table experience. The tasting room has a super hygge vibe, and their pizza and food truck offerings are the perfect hearty meals to enjoy on a cold winter day.
The Fraser Valley
When we lived on the mainland, we didn’t get out to the Fraser Valley very much, but it’s always a place where you can feel relaxed and a little closer to nature. I’ve made a point of going to Abbotsford’s Field House Brewing Co. a few times with friends because a) they have an excellent patio with a fire pit; b) they have a wood burning fireplace; and c) they make make hearty comfort food—like pizza and mac’n’cheese—that warms you to your bones. Pair that with their Salted Black Porter and the world is a very hygge place.
On the hygge wishlist
Personally, I think one of the best things about living in BC is that there is SO MUCH to explore. My partner and I try to explore at least one different place in the province every year, and these are up for consideration—with the hygge factor quite high!
- Squamish – Howe Sound Brewing is just one of the breweries located in Sea to Sky country, but I feel like it would be a great basecamp for Squamish explorations as they have an inn that looks very cozy.
- Whistler – Along with Coast Mountain Brewing, Whistler Brewing and The Brewhouse, Whistler is also home to Scandanave Spa. I’m keen to soak the day away and get pampered.
- The Kootenay Rockies – Speaking of the spa… Radium Hot Springs in the East Kootenay region is calling my name. Just imagine sitting in a mineral pool after a long road trip or day of skiing, surrounded by snow covered trees—a nice winter ale in your hand.
The hygge options are pretty spectacular on the BC Ale Trail. Make 2020 your coziest year yet!