Hugo Hardy was educated at Royal Wilhelm-Gymnasium in Berlin, and then from 1895-96 at Balliol College, Oxford. He obtained a jurist doctor in 1900 from Heidelberg. Hardy worked in the Germany Colonial Service, becoming District Commissioner for German East Africa from 1906-08. He later was a clerk in the German Imperial Colonial Office (1908) and the private secretary to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, starting in 1911. He attended the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition on orders of the German government, which asked him to report on the Colonial Exhibitions. He was also responsible for organizing the German exhibitions.
In 1903 Hardy became a member of the German Committee for the Olympic Games, serving as treasurer from 1913-23. To support the German team effort, he donated 5,000 Deutschmarks of his own money. In St. Louis, his collection of East-African artefacts was awarded a Gold Medal. His wife was the former Louise Oppenheim, the granddaughter of Benoit Oppenheim, wealthy German banker and art collector.