Achieving Hygge at the Storfjord Hotel

Monday, 17 July 2017

For those of you that are yet to become acquainted with the Danish word, 'hygge', allow me to fill you in. It roughly translates as 'cosiness', and although the Danes have been perfecting the art of hygge for centuries, the term has only gained worldwide attention since the spotlight has been shone on Denmark in recent years for the excellent quality of life it offers its people, for their long life expectancies and impressive health and happiness indices.

In essence, hygge encompasses everything about the Danish way of living and the warm atmosphere that entails: from sharing special moments with special people, to taking a slower pace to life so that you can really savour the goodness that comes with it.

So what does this have to do with the secluded luxury boutique hotel, which is perched on a hillside in the tiny hamlet of Glomset, overlooking the Storfjord, on the west coast of Norway?

Well, apart from the fact that the hotel is a short hop over the border from Denmark in Norway (something I am going to overlook for the purpose of this post, because who said that hygge had to be exclusive to just one of the Scandinavian countries?!)...everything!


The moments in life that come close to achieving true hygge, are characterised by simplicity and casualness, where the individual is usually not too far from nature. Set high on a hill overlooking the Storfjord, with the stunning backdrop of the Stunmøre Alps beyond, the hotel prides itself on being a 'slow life hideaway', far from the bustle of urban developments and the stresses of everyday life.

The beautiful scenery, and expansive landscape calls to be explored. There was nothing else to do other than don our hiking boots and thermals, and get amongst it. The feeling of togetherness, and of truly living in the moment as we picked our way along previously unexplored trails as we hiked our way down to the shimmering waters of the fjord below us is something I won't forget for a long time.



Simple, functional, but beautiful design is central to the hygge philosophy. Particularly if the design assists in making you feel cosy, comfortable and warm.

At Storfjord, all of the rooms are spacious, yet somehow manage to retain a feeling of cosiness throughout. Works of art, rustic furniture and antiques have all been carefully selected for the sole purpose of guest's comfort and relaxation.

The bedrooms (including a number of brand new rooms which were being finalised as we stayed) have all been individually decorated, and remain sympathetic to traditional Norwegian design.

I fell in love with our pastel-painted four poster bed, and pretty wooden dressers in our room.

And of course, the soft furnishing and roaring fires in each of the main reception rooms.


Low, warm and cosy lighting creates instant hygge, and there aren't many light sources that do so more effectively than candlelight and an open fire, both of which are employed throughout the hotel.

The fireplace in the dining room was a welcome sight first thing in the morning as we ate breakfast, warming us up for the day ahead, just as it was last thing in the evening with dinner, as we wound down for the evening and started to feel ready for bed.

My favourite fireplace however, was in the expansive sitting room. We would retire here after a long walk, make ourselves a coffee, kick off our shoes, and enjoy the serene state that the low, flickering light and warm ambience bestowed upon us.

Some of us embraced the tranquility more than others...


A central tenet of hygge is great food and drink - the kind of meals that, when eaten, feel like your soul is receiving a big, warm hug.

This also happens to be my favourite kind of food.

We were spoiled at Storfjord. The breakfast spreads were extensive, and included everything from traditional Brunost (brown, sweet cheese) to Norweigian meats, customisable waffles, pancakes and eggs.

But it was supper time when the chefs really came into their own. All of the food served in the hotel is made from locally-sourced and largely organic ingredients. One evening we had duck, and our waiter told us that it had arrived earlier that day from a farm just around the hill. 

Every meal was delicious and hearty; not complex, but rustic and tasty. I could have licked my plate clean every time.


Lastly, arguably the most important dimension of hygge is how you feel inside.

For this reason, natural materials such as wooden carpentry and traditional craftsmanship are always more hygge than modern architecture and machine-built artefacts. This is where the handcrafted log walls, and 'log cabin' vibe of the hotel comes into its own.

Natural views also make you feel more 'hyggeligt' (hygge-like) than urban cityscapes. Anything that is warm, while it's cold outside; allows people to slow down, when usually they'd be rushing around and brings people together to talk and share stories when usually they would be lost in their own world in front of TV, laptop and phone screens...all of this brings about the serene and comforting atmosphere of hygge.

We spent two days in this blissful hygge-like state, and it was some of the best therapy I have ever received.

When can you recall being at your most 'hygge'?

Two Minute Teaser: Astor Grill at the St Regis Doha

Sunday, 16 July 2017


Astor Grill in a nutshell:

A low-lit and atmospheric restaurant, the Astor Grill at the St Regis offers diners fresh fish and tender meat, with an excellent range of starters, sauces and sides. The restaurant's steak has gained a reputation as some of the best in town, and rightly so: the prime cuts of beef are carefully sourced, and the menu changes regularly, not only to keep things fresh and exciting, but also to ensure diners are able to sample some of the best cuts from around the world.

Why is it worth it?

The restaurant hits the nail on the head when it comes to creating a warm and calming ambience that's both romantic and conducive to the enjoyment of your food. You can watch your creation being brought to life in the open kitchen, and ask questions of the knowledgeable waiting staff, who are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

It feels like a special occasion restaurant; somewhere to head to for a date night or celebration.

What was the best dish?

We devoured a juicy Australian Rangers Valley Wagyu Tenderloin from the Josper Grill, which was as soft as butter on the knife. However, I've also heard that the 21-day aged cuts are phenomenal.

What will it cost me?

Express Lunch: QAR 100 for 3 courses
Supper Menu (Saturday - Thursday): QAR 195 for 2 courses; QAR 225 for 3 courses
A la carte: Mains are on average QAR 200

Family friendly rating:


(Not the most obvious restaurant to bring children to, but the staff were incredibly sweet with my baby and kept her entertained while we were there).

The details:

The St Regis Doha, Doha West Bay, Qatar.

Call the restaurant directly on: (+974) 4446 0105 or head to the website to reserve a table.

To read about the rest of the restaurants and promotions in my Two Minute Teaser series, head here.

I Love You More This Year

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

I loved you a lot in 2012 when we first 're-met' and started to date. I loved you more in 2013 when I missed you so much that I moved out to Doha to be closer to you. Our love was amplified in 2014 when you knelt down in the sand and asked me to be your wife. Then in 2015, we got married and we vowed that we would continue to love each other forever.

But it wasn't until 2016 when our first baby was born that I began to love you as I do now.

It sounds like a cliché, but seeing you with Sophia made my world complete. You're the kind of daddy I wish every young girl could look up to. You're the supportive husband that I wish every struggling mum could lean upon.

Today, on our second wedding anniversary, I wanted to let you know that I will continue to love you more every year.

Life is better with you by my side.

Two Minute Teaser: Noodles & Ribs at the Four Seasons Doha

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Noodles & Ribs in a nutshell:

A unique promotion that's running every weekend throughout the summer months in the Four Seasons' acclaimed restaurant, Elements. A concept that is as simple as it is inspired; you can watch Chef Ding and his team hand-pulling noodles and concocting an array of bespoke noodle dishes from around Asia in the restaurant's open kitchens, or select from the range of delicious and flavoursome ribs on offer. Plus there's sushi, salads and a big dessert buffet to boot.


Why is it worth it?

Because it's difficult to find authentic, hand-pulled noodles in Doha. Because it's even harder to find halal ribs that are actually tasty. Because over the summer, there isn't a lot going on on the food scene in Doha, and this is truly exciting.

What's more, children under 12 can enjoy a free meal from the kids' menu, and the over fours can join the kids' club for free for the duration of your meal!

What was the best dish?

A difficult one to call, as there is a lot of variety (four different noodle dishes, even more noodle soups and four ribs that I counted), and the Four Seasons have maintained their usual high standards with this one.

However, the Zhajiang Miang noodles, which are served with ground beef and slightly salty, fermented soybean paste were sensational, and the tender and aromatic Arabic-spiced short ribs were like no ribs I've ever tasted before.

What will it cost me?

QAR 200 without alcohol.
QAR 310 with selected beverages.
Free for children under 12.

Family-friendly rating:


The details:

Fridays & Saturdays, 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm.

Four Seasons Doha, The Corniche, Doha 24665, Qatar
Contact Dining Reservations on:  (+974) 4494 8600 or email:

Entering the Toddler Years with Umm Mu

Thursday, 6 July 2017

I can't pinpoint exactly when or how Sophia transitioned from baby to toddler. I just woke up one day to find that she was this walking, talking, bubbly little ball of feistiness, and just like that the baby days were over.

Somehow, I learned to adapt to all of these changes almost overnight too, just like I had with every passing phase in her development that had come before. That's just what we do as parents I suppose! We possess special kinds of superpowers that I didn't fully appreciate before I became a mum.

The biggest change I had to adapt to was, of course, the fact that she is now completely mobile.

Remember the horror you felt when your baby started crawling and you rushed to baby-proof the house which you had neglected doing for so long because, well, for about ten months you were surviving on 45 minutes sleep and half a Digestive? God forbid your little tortoise might somehow hoik themselves up towards a shelf or table and pull your 20 volume set of the Oxford Dictionary onto their head.

Forget that time. This is ANOTHER LEVEL. These days, if you turn your back for more than 2.5 milliseconds then your toddler will have painted the carpet with your new Mac lippy, emptied the contents of the bin into your new Coccinelle handbag and will be busy munching on a crayon.

Suddenly, I needed to overhaul Sophia's entire wardrobe, not only to accommodate her increasingly long legs (wonder who she got that from?!) and adapt to the accelerating heat of the Doha summer, but to include some outfit options which were a bit more practical for toddling around the place in. 

The problem is that practical and pretty don't usually go hand in hand. For this reason, I decided to bypass H&M and have a couple of outfits handmade for her instead, so that I could customise them to tick all of the boxes that I needed ticked. In Doha there is only one lady that I go to when I want baby and toddler clothes making, and that is Umm Mu.

Remember this adorable little outfit that she made for Sophia at the end of last year, and which I included in my New Mum's Christmas Gift List and Baby Gift Registry for 2016?

Well, I think she might have exceeded herself this time around.

She made us a pretty pink peplum top, in floral-patterned cotton, with cut-out straps and statement buttons on the back...

And a stunning pastel romper, with a peephole back, and lace trim.

My little explorer enjoyed romping around the grounds of the Ritz Carlton hotel in her outfits during a recent staycation.

The cut and fabric of the garments ensured that she stayed cool...and let's face it, she looked pretty cool too!

The staycation provided the perfect opportunity for us to spend a bit of quality time together (while twinning in our identical sun hats). 

I couldn't help but wish that Umm Mu made rompers in adult sizes too!

For anyone wishing to place an order, unfortunately Umm Mu has shut up shop for the summer now. However, in the meantime, you can have a peruse of her Etsy shop here and place a pre-order for September.

Plus, stay tuned for a very special Umm Mu promotion on Follow Your Sunshine coming soon...

Two Minute Teaser: We Love Saturday Brunch, InterContinental Doha

Monday, 3 July 2017

Thank you to all of my email subscribers who responded to my survey about what they would like to see next on Follow Your Sunshine (and helped to inspire me again during my dire bout of writer's block!).

One of the most common pieces of feedback I received was that you would like to see shorter, snappier food reviews. This request is something I am completely on board with; sometimes when you're hungry and looking for recommendations for places to eat, you want to do away with the hyperbolé and find out what's good and why in an instant (slightly annoyingly, this is also a suggestion that Mr Sunshine has put to me many times over the years, and I am now going to have to concede that he is, on occasion, right on the money!).

Cue my new series of Two Minute Teasers, which will round-up the best restaurants, promotions and experiences around Doha and the world. Just as the title suggests, they shouldn't take more than two minutes to read. Hopefully, this shouldn't be too difficult, as the places I'll be showcasing kinda sell themselves.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to my very first, the 'We Love Saturday Brunch' at the InterContinental Doha.


The 'We Love Saturday Brunch' in a nutshell:

One of Doha's longest running and most-loved Saturday brunches, the 'We Love Saturday Brunch' at the InterContinental Hotel Doha proves that Friday doesn't always have to hog the crown when it comes to top notch weekend eats in Doha. It's held in Coral, the bright and welcoming all-day dining restaurant on the hotel's lower floor, and features an extensive buffet with dishes from around the world.

Why is it worth it? 

This is one of the friendlier brunches in Doha, with waiting staff who will bend over backwards to ensure that you have a good experience. What's more, this is THE brunch to go to if you have young children. The hotel puts on interactive cooking classes for the over-fours in attendance (they get to eat their creations at the end of it), and there is a state of the art playroom next door which will keep them entertained throughout.

What was the best dish?

I think buffets are often over-rated, but this one was great, with fresh-tasting ingredients and a lot of choice without being overwhelming. My top pick would have to be the Arabic sweets; at the end of the meal I found myself returning for one more bowl of creamy Umm Ali, and a couple more sticky, sweet Baclava before we departed.

What will it cost me?

QAR 195 without alcohol.
QAR 250 with selected beverages.
50% off for children aged 6-12.

Family-friendly rating: 


The details:

InterContinental Doha Hotel & Residences, Al Isteqlal Road, West Bay Lagoon, Doha 6822, Qatar
+974 4844 444

I was a guest of the InterContinental Doha this time, but as always all views are my own.