As It Happens

Snowed-in Danish Ikea customers enjoy soft bedding and free food 

Michelle Barrett says sleeping in an Ikea overnight was a lot like staying in a nice hotel — minus the bill.

‘It was really hygge,’ says Michelle Barrett, using a Danish word for cozy and content 

Nanna Drejer, left, and Michelle Barrett, right, snap a selfie from the Aalborg, Denmark, Ikea where they spent the night on Wednesday during a snowstorm. (Submitted by Michelle Barrett)

Story Transcript

Michelle Barrett says sleeping in an Ikea overnight was a lot like staying in a nice hotel — minus the bill.

She spent the night curled up on the most comfortable sofa she could find, wrapped in a 100 per cent wool blanket, watching TV and eating almond rice pudding, a Danish Christmas classic. 

"It was really hygge to stay there," she told As It Happens host Carol Off, using a Danish word that means cozy, comfy and content.

Barrett was one of about 30 people who slept over in the Aalborg, Denmark, Ikea on Wednesday night after a winter storm brought about 30 centimetres of snow, leaving roads unsafe to drive on.

Barrett was finishing up a shift at a toy store, Kids Coolshop Aalborg, when the storm struck. When she and her co-worker Nanna Drejer realized there was no way to get home, they decided to hunker down in the shop. 

"We have a lot of toys, you know bears and teddy bears and all of that, so we can always have someone to sleep with," Barrett said with a giggle.

But then they saw a post on Facebook about people staying in the nearby Ikea.

"We got this idea to walk over and just knock on the door and ask, 'Can we stay here?' Because our store is really cold, and we need a bed to sleep in," she said.

The store employees welcomed them in. The other stranded customers had already eaten dinner in the Ikea canteen earlier that evening, but Barrett and Drejer were given hot cups of coffee and bowls of risalamande, a Danish holiday pudding. 

Barrett estimates there were about eight customers there, including herself and her colleague, and about 25 employees.

Peter Elmose, the store manager, told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, that staff invited those stranded by the storm to settle in on the first-floor furniture exhibit, where the beds, mattresses and sofas were all set up. 

He said people were free to "pick the exact bed they always have wanted to try."

Barrett opted for a couch instead.

"I need a new couch, so I thought maybe I should sleep on the couch to see if I want to buy one," she said. "I took the best sofa I could see … and that was really good."

Barrett says she picked out the comfiest couch she could find to sleep on. (Submitted by Michelle Barrett )

The following morning, Ikea treated the snowed-in customers to breakfast before they went back out into the world. 

The whole episode is reminiscent of a story that unfolded earlier this week, when a snow storm in England left more than dozen people stranded in a pub for three nights with an Oasis cover band. To pass the time they ate free meals, played pub trivia, and watched movies. 

"That sounds nice because there's beer," Barrett said.

Barrett is now home safe and sound — but she still has her eye on that sofa. 

"I have showed it to my boyfriend and said, 'I really want this one.' But he says [it's] too expensive," she said. "But maybe I can get it for Christmas."

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Associated Press. Interview produced by Sarah Jackson. 

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