Luxury In Lapland: A Look At Finland’s Exclusive Snow Hotel
Each year, from roughly December until April, adventure travellers bundle up for a night in Finland’s Lapland Hotel SnowVillage, an incredible 30-room hotel carefully sculpted and carved from more than 20 million kilos of snow and 350,000 kilos of crystal-clear natural ice.
Located just shy of 200 kilometres above the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, this hotel cuts no corners in terms of luxury either. Guests sleep bundled up in thermal sleeping bags with thick fleece linings to keep warm in the crisp -2 to -5 Celsius.
There’s also an ice restaurant and an ice bar where the drinks are served (on the rocks of course) inside ‘glassware’ carved from ice. The most popular drink? A shot of vodka served in a shot glass made of ice.
Diners can choose from one of two restaurants: Ice Restaurant which serves traditional northern style fare from the region like reindeer filet, smoked salmon and hearty mains such as barley risotto or Log Restaurant, which has the same menu but boasts a cosy fireplace.
For those keen on making it a destination wedding or elopement, there’s also an onsite ice chapel (as well as a more traditional wooden one) where you can say ‘I do.’ The chapel fits roughly 20-30 people so you can bring along your nearest and dearest.
In 2018, the annually-themed hotel attracted an enormous amount of additional attention when it paired up with HBO Nordic to theme that year’s hotel in partnership with the television hit series Game of Thrones. This year, the hotel continued to keep the theme alive into the 2019 season with iconic moments from the series carved into the ice throughout the hotel.
There’s a life-size iron throne, a creepy Hall of Faces and even a white walker with glowing eyes looming over the bed in the snow suite. There’s plenty to explore around the hotel with large ice sculptures lining the hallways. You’ll also find an ice movie theatre, where you can watch a short film about how the hotel was built.
Snow suites accommodate two, four or five guests, and feature warmed bathrooms. Stays also include guided tours and morning wakeup calls of juice and breakfast and a certificate marking your stay in the snow suite.
Alternatively, choose more traditional style cabin accommodation with a private sauna. Many guests also choose to spend their first night in a snow suite before changing to cabin-style accommodation for the remainder of their stay.
While you’re there, experience some of the arctic activities on offer including reindeer safari by snow sleigh, or visit a Siberian husky camp where you can pat and scratch these playful pups, learn from a professional musher how to drive a sled and then have a go with your own husky team of paw power.
Also available are snowmobile safaris (adults don’t need a license to operate a snowmobile), snowshoe trekking, ice sculpting classes where you can get insight into how the snow suites and impressive sculptures were created, as well as fishing expeditions by snowmobile where you can try your luck at ice fishing at some of the best local destinations in nearby Ylläs. Afterward, warm up with a hot drink served around a campfire.
Most visitors also pair the journey up with a trip to photograph the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights as they dance across the sky. The memorable snowmobile ride through wintry woodlands takes place three times a week just after sunset and is roughly three hours return. Participants will learn all about the beautiful phenomenon while keeping cosy beside a campfire with a hot cup of coffee in hand.
Should you choose to prolong your stay, nearby resorts in Levi, the largest winter sports region of Finland, offer an abundance of activities such as downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding.
The SnowVillage is a 90-minute transfer from Helsinki, in the western regions of Finnish Lapland. While the SnowVillage is closing now for the warmer months, it’ll be back again in late 2019 for a new winter season. Guests are encouraged to book their places well in advance as ice suites are limited. For those keen to visit the area without an overnight stay, tours are available by both car or snowmobile leaving from the nearby Lapland Resorts of Levi and Ylläs.
Bookings for the next season are expected to open over the next few months with standard double rooms starting from €220 (around $345) and snow suites from €294 (around $465).
Our tip: Pack your warmest woollies and a sense of adventure.
(Lead image: Lapland Hotels SnowVillage / supplied)
Published 01 May, 2019