There’s a word for that: 6 stays on that embrace those untranslatable words that define a culture

From hygge in Denmark to saudade in Portugal and Brazil, many foreign words have relatable meanings, but lack direct / translatable equivalents. With 63% of global travelers saying that when they travel they like to experience the destination as much like a local as possible*,, the global leader in connecting travelers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, has delved into it’s more than 29 million listings in over 143,000 destinations around the world to present six destinations that bring their culture’s untranslatable words to life. These destinations are perfect for bridging the language barrier and immersing travelers into daily life and the local emotion to get the real feeling of these amazing cultures.

Hygge, DenmarkThe Danish word hygge plays a significant role in Danish culture. Named Oxford Dictionaries word of the year in 2016, the most simple translation would be ‘coziness’, but what makes it untranslatable is the cultural contentment and lifestyle trends that come with it. The pleasure of everyday moments, a warm and inviting atmosphere, the glow of the candlelight or a cozy dinner with good friends: hygge is the concept of a happy, comfortable life.

Where to stay: Grand Apartment in the heart of Copenhagen is exactly what it sounds like - a spacious apartment in the heart of Copenhagen. Not only is it a short walk away from the Tivoli Gardens, a Danish national treasure and home to a very hygge atmosphere that’s right out of a magical fairytale, but the apartment features a fully equipped kitchen with a modern dining area to gather with your travel companions, prepare a meal and celebrate hygge like a local.

Gezellig, the Netherlands

One of the words travelers often hear when visiting the Netherlands is gezellig. While almost impossible to pronounce to the non-Dutch tongue, it’s an important word that encompasses the heart of Dutch culture. Dutch people love to use this world multiple times per day, especially when they find themselves in a relaxed situation. Gezellig is used in many Dutch situations to describe a cozy and inviting environment, a pleasant gathering or a fun moment socializing with friends that alludes to a strong sense of belonging.

Where to stay: It doesn’t get anymore Dutch than staying in a seventeenth-century canal house overlooking the iconic canals of Amsterdam. KeizersgrachtSuite471 offers quaint but modernized apartments in the charming Jordaan neighborhood. It’s prime location means guests are within walking distance to various gezellig bars and brown cafes, perfect for sipping on a local beer or warm cup of coffee while watching the small boats cruise through the canals and locals cycle past by on old-fashion bicycles.

Gemütlich, Germany

Referring to warmth, coziness and belonging, the German word gemütlich is another word that while being full of cultural characteristics that are unique to the German culture, it cannot be translated accurately to fully express its meaning. Enjoying a beer stein surrounded by close friends while relishing in the warm sun at an outdoor biergarten is definitely something a German person would describe as gemütlich and something that travelers to Germany are sure to experience as well.

Where to stay: Situated in heart of Munich, arguably one of the most gemütliche cities in Germany, Hotel Prinzregent München features relaxing rooms with antique furnishings as well as a cozy Bavarian restaurant and a beer garden where guests can have a gemütlich time.

Saudade, Portugal and Brazil

Similar to nostalgia, saudade is a beautiful Portuguese word with no direct translation, but is often used by Portuguese and Brazilians alike to describe the feeling of yearning for someone or something that’s absent. This beautiful word combines happiness, sadness, as happiness is the opportunity to have an experience, and sadness is for missing it. In Brazil, it’s such a significant part of the culture that the day of saudade is officially celebrated annually on 30 January.


Where to stay: O Remoinho is a refurbished windmill located in Ericeira, a small fishing community on the western coast of Portugal. This homey retreat is divided into three different levels. On the ground floor you will find a rustic-style kitchen, while the second level offers a cozy spot play some soft music while reflecting and meditating. The third floor is a comfortable bedroom retreat. Outside guests will find an organic herb garden and is just a short walk away from the quite beach, both of which are perfect for embracing the feelings of saudade.

Sobremesa, SpainThere are few things better than taking some time to relax after indulging in a nice meal, and few places in the world that do that better than Spain. For Spaniards, how they eat is just as important as what they eat, so it’s no surprise that there’s an untranslatable Spanish word (sobremesa) to describe that delightful time after a meal spent relaxing and in pleasant conversation with family and friends while the food digests.

Where to stay: Villa Sabine, located in the rollings hills near Caleta De Fuste of Spain’s Canary Islands. While this villa has an outdoor pool and is walking distance to the beautiful beaches, the real appeal for travelers wanting to experience sobremesa is the villa’s fully equipped kitchen and relaxing outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying some tapas and practicing the concept of sobremesa.

Mattari, Japan

Japan is known for its futuristic innovations and travelers going there have come to expect an fast-paced adventure filled with towering skyscrapers and speeding bullet trains. But lately, the younger generation in Japan have adopted a new word mattari into their lifestyle, which is used to describe simply relaxing, doing nothing, and ‘chilling out’. On your next trip to Japan, instead of getting swept up in the hustle and bustle, why find a quiet place to embrace the new mattari state of mind?

Where to stay: Bordered by remote, forest-covered mountains and shamrock-green rice fields, the village of Shirakawa-go exudes a calm in stark contrast to Japan’s hectic cities. Truly unwind and embrace mattari while staying at Nakaodaira Inn, which is surrounded by peaceful woodlands, Japan’s stunning North Alps and six private hot-spring baths. It also serves delicious Japanese-style meals in the dining area for breakfast and dinner.


*Research commissioned by and independently conducted among a sample of adults who have taken a trip in the last 12 months/plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. In total 56,727 respondents were surveyed (2000+ from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the US, and 1000+ each from Denmark, Croatia, Sweden, and New Zealand). Respondents completed an online survey in October 2017.