A few years ago, the Danish concept of hygge — which lacks a direct translation but generally means the ultimate feeling of coziness and contentment — swept the United States. People in America were apparently ready to embrace all things hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), and that hasn’t slowed down. At the newly renovated Hotel Hygge in Buellton, California, one of the best small towns to visit in 2023, finding hygge is as easy as pulling up to a motel room.
Central California is not a bad place to go searching for hygge. I grew up in nearby Lompoc, and recently made my first trip back the region in almost a decade. Much has changed, but many of the things that I loved about the area have stayed the same. There’s the world-class wine, of course, as well as award-winning breweries that embody West Coast craft beer. The weather is still unbeatable, morning fog and all. Plus there are few views that make me feel more content than vineyard-covered hills and the ocean in the distance.
These draws bring travelers from around the world. Many are wine travelers curious to see and taste Central Coast wine and sip from the filming locations in the cult-favorite 2004 movie Sideways. Others are there to bike — cyclists will especially appreciate the 44-mile Drum Canyon Loop, which is easily accessible from Hotel Hygge.
Hotel Hygge is owned by Highway West Vacations. The company started in 2013 with Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground in Buellton not far from Hotel Hygge. Today, the hotel group owns more than 10 RV, glamping, and boutique hotel properties in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and New Hampshire.
In addition to the properties owned by Highway West Vacations, Buellton and the surrounding small towns of Solvang, Los Olivos, Lompoc, and Santa Ynez aren’t exactly lacking for boutique accommodations. That said, as I quickly learned when looking into hotels ahead of my trip, what is available books up fast — especially during wedding season. Revived options like Hotel Hygge offer not just more places to stay, but enjoyable places to stay.
Hotel Hygge: Rooms, amenities, and what’s nearby
All of Hotel Hygge’s rooms are pet friendly. There are four room sizes: Hygge Queen (has a queen bed), Premium Hygge Queen (queen bed but more space), Hygge King (has a king bed), and the Deluxe Hygge King (a corner room with a king bed, dining nook, and more space than the standard King).
Regardless of the room size, each comes with a TV, WiFi, mini-fridge, coffee maker, and bathroom filled with Malin and Goetz soaps. This being a motel, parking is right outside each room’s door. Communal areas in the middle of the lot have fire pits, picnic tables, and a bocce ball court. Hotel Hygge guests are free to use the hot tub, fitness center, and pool at another nearby Highway West Vacations property, Sideways Inn.
Some of the technology to avoid face-to-face contact with staff that hotels embraced during the height of the pandemic makes the guest experience more seamless today. A virtual service assistant called Ivy handles requests and questions. I used it to check in and out, as well as to ask about local restaurants and bars (staff can chime in through the service, and they sent suggestions for nearby wineries Brickbarn, Foley Vineyard, Dierberg Vineyard, and Buscador Winery, as well as La Tequila for food and live music).
It became clear to me after two nights at Hotel Hygge that there’s plenty of comfort to be found in the rooms, of course, but also the comfort of knowing that I was never far away from delicious wineries, breweries, and restaurants.