I write this on the side of a mountain in The Alps.
The vista is snow covered and outside it’s minus five, but I’m cosy here in a little french cafe with a glass of vin chaude, a blanket and a fire in front of me. And that’s one of the places I’m happiest to be found when it’s miserable outside: somewhere warm and cosy with delicious food and drink on tap.
According to a survey on happiness commissioned by Young’s Pubs recently, us Brits tend to find joy in the simplest of things. Going on holiday, eating a delicious meal or, one of my favourites, climbing into freshly washed sheets. In fact, a restaurant or pub is statistically one of our happiest places outside of the home.
Which is why, when Young’s Pubs invited me to their #HouseOfHappiness at Finch’s in Finsbury Square recently, I was delighted to accept.
Recognising that January is generally a bit of a slow month for most of us, Young’s cleverly decided to create an oasis of Hygge and Happiness on Blue Monday – the hardest day of the year. Taking inspiration from their survey, they created a haven for all Londoners to shelter in on the gloomiest day of all.
Not just laying on the usual pub fayre, that evening Young’s employed a whole host of tools to make sure everyone visiting the pub would leave that evening feeling happier, cosier and maybe a little less Blue-Monday.
There was the usual: hot cider, mulled wine, candles, cake. But that was where the ordinary ended.
According to Young’s survey, 33.2% of us are happiest in our pj’s and slippers, which is why I was slipped a pair of towelling white footwear on my way in, and offered a shoe shine to my dirty pavement pounders. Then, if you were that way inclined you could get your beard seen to by the in-house barber before you ordered your tipple – with alcohol-free ‘gin’ offered by the brilliant Seedlip.
Tea fans could mix their unique blend, cake lovers could decorate their own. Colouring books and games were available to relax with, and if you fancied writing a note to your nearest and dearest you had to just address the envelope and Young’s would post it for you!
Downstairs there was a lowly-lit library with whisky tasting, yoga sessions, hot water bottles and blankets, with the odd talk from mindfulness and happiness specialists. It was basically everything I’ve ever read about Hygge distilled into two rooms. One red wine in that atmosphere and my relaxation was off the scale.
Young’s research has also shown that clean eating isn’t fuelling the nation’s happiness – no shit, eh Sherlock? It turns out that a traditional roast dinner with all the trimmings, a fish supper or chocolate are the top three foods we turn to for a pick-me-up. Which doesn’t surprise me, as a roast chicken is the first thing I reach for after a long and chilly day.
So although you’ll have to cross fingers that Young’s pubs put on their House of Happiness next January, you can pop in at any time to tale a load of with their comfort food. Click here for a list of their pubs nationwide.
Big thanks to Young’s for supporting MTT.