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“Amazing” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Kirkenes Snowhotel

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Kirkenes Snowhotel
1.0 of 5 Specialty Hotel   |   Radius Kirkenes AS | Gabba Reindeer and Husky Park, Kirkenes 9915, Norway   |  
Hotel amenities
Stamford, Connecticut
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Amazing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2014

Prior to the trip, Anne at the Snow Hotel was very responsive and helpful with my multiple emails. After disembarking from a Hurtigruten cruise, I joined 8 other people on a bus to the Snow Hotel. The permanent buildings are all dark wood, rustic; the dog area is lots of wooden dog houses on legs. Probably 2 feet of snow on the ground, the tree branches are all covered with about 2” of snow. Looked like a winter wonderland – pine trees w/snow coating, twiggy trees w/snowy branches, snowy hills, dropping down to an ice covered lake, surrounded by snowy hills.

The actual hotel portion is made of snow and is shaped like a tunnel with round rooms extending off the sides. At the back of the snow hotel is a permanent 3-story building in dark wood that housed the bathrooms, showers, etc on the ground floor for the snow hotel; middle floor was a lounge area & bar; top floor was a relaxing area (big chairs & sofas covered with furry reindeer skins) and the dining room with huge floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lake and hills. Snow Hotel is entered through an arched doorway and the main hallway curves to the back, with the individual rooms off both sides of the hall & ice sculptures along the hall. I think there were 20 rooms, plus a large round ice bar at the back of the main hall. Each room was about the same size and contained a carved ice bed frame, with a regular mattress inside the bed frame and fleece covered pillows. The walls of each room were snow and were carved with décor fitting a theme; some of the themes were Mickey Mouse, Marilyn Monroe, snowmen, Charlie Chaplin, swans, Snow White, Mona Lisa, some cartoon characters (not sure who), Santa, penguins, sailors, and more. Each room had a lighting system (from below) focused on the carved walls. There were a couple of family-sized rooms with 4 twin beds. The snow hotel is kept at -4 degrees inside. The bath/shower room is just outside the snow hotel in the permanent building.

Dinner was served in the Gabba restaurant - what a sensation entering this round wooden building – coming from the crisp, cold (-12), starry night – into a warm, candle-lit room with a crackling fire in the middle of the room! The room is rustic – birch wood planking walls & ceiling (vaulted, so fire smoke goes up & out), trestle tables & benches covered in red cloths and stuffed animals on a shelf along the ceiling edge. Dinner was such fun, mostly because of the ambience and the great staff – the first course was reindeer sausage that we grilled ourselves over the fire. They gave us pointy sticks to put the sausages on and we stood around the fire grilling them – brought me back to my Girl Scout days! After they were done, we wrapped them in a traditional pita-type bread, smeared on some mustard, and ate – tasty, tasty. Second course was a local Norwegian cheese plate w/grapes, various dipping sauces and crackers. Third course was Arctic char which they cooked by nailing the filets to alder boards and propping them next to the fire, so that they smoked. I asked if they had any meat, didn’t matter what, and they cooked me reindeer steaks - 3 large pieces. Fourth course was ice cream w/berry coulis. Then, an after-dinner drink - the Arctic Night – hot chocolate and a shot of Minttu, a peppermint liqueur; so good. During dinner, they told us twice that the Northern Lights were visible which was an unexpected bonus!

Around midnight, made a final bathroom stop where I also picked up my sleeping bag, wool socks & balaclava and went to my room. These alpine style sleeping bags are very warm, so you’re supposed to wear your long-underwear, wool socks and the balaclava (which you can pull up over your nose, over your eyes, etc.) I stuffed my coat into the bottom of the bag so that it would be warm-ish for any bathroom trips and got into the bag. They’re relatively narrow so there wasn’t a lot of room inside to twist & turn; I got it zipped up and sort of cinched the top around my head. I made it through the whole night, but will say that it wasn’t particularly restful or comfortable. The temperature in the room was -6 but I wasn’t cold, it was more that I felt constricted – lying there on my back with my arms at my side or crossed in front – kind of like being in an MRI. Finally, I flipped onto my side and slept soundly the rest of the night. So, that’s my tip – don’t feel you have to lie flat on your back!

In addition to the amazing landscape, the activities and the actual hotel itself, their staff were a huge part of the experience. Unfailingly, they were all friendly, helpful and interested in the guests; it was clear that they enjoyed their job and wanted us to enjoy our experience there. All of them were very matter of fact, intelligent and savvy.

I would go back again for the landscape, serenity & Gabba experience but would probably sleep in one of their permanent wooden cabins.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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108 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    60
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (23)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
kent
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2014

Wow. We loved this place and bought into the whole concept.
The staff were very efficient and friendly and nothing was too much trouble.
We arrived early from the Hurtigruten ship and were picked up at the port on a free shuttle. If going this route check with the ships tour desk to get on the bus, we had to wait for the Snowhotel to come and get us, but it wasn't a problem.
Upon arrival we were given the tour, chose our room, then we were able to have a day there playing!! Included in your stay is use of snow shoes, kick sledges and cross country skis.
We also did a two hour Husky sledge ride over a frozen Fjord, which was amazing!
There is a separate building which houses the showers and toilets, also the restaurant and comfortable sitting area. This is right next to the Snow hotel so should you need the toilet at night you don't have far to go.
There are also staff on hand at night should you need them.
The food was excellent, starting with a Reindeer sausage in the Gabba restaurant then soup in the Snow hotel followed by three more courses in the adjacent restaurant.
Then time for bed!
It was a bit of a struggle for me to get into the sleeping bag, which they provide along with balaclava and socks. But once in I was completely warm.
I agree with others about somewhere to put your clothing when undressing and even something to stand on. I found wrapping my clothes inside my coat and leaving that on the bed worked for me.
Slept very well and was a very good experience.
They also have very nice wooden cabins if you find the Snow hotel too much.
I would love to have had an extra night here, in a cabin to then make more use of the facilities.
Breakfast was good with lots of choices then they take you to either the airport, port or town centre hotels. All in all a fantastic experience, not to everyone's liking I'm sure but one very much worth trying.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Brisbane, Australia
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 13, 2014

This is classified as a snow hotel as opposed to an ice hotel so I guess there are differences. We were pleased we stayed overnight but would not bother again. Although my husband slept like a baby I kept overheating in the minus 4 degree rooms as I was too cocooned in the sleeping bags.
They would benefit from lockers where toiletries and outdoor clothes can be stored in regular temperatures.
Attached to the hotel are other activities such as husky sledding, ski-do trips and fishing for the giant crab. We did all of these and all were equally memorable. The equipment and clothing provided were all well maintained and the staff excellent.

Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Sydney, Australia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2014

You either love or hate this hotel and concept... I loved it. Quite magical. But once the wonder and uniqueness of the experience wears off, don't forget you have to sleep in -4.

Also found the 'entree sausage' cooking a great way to break the ice (so to speak).

I agree with some of the other comments here, that it did feel a bit like a factory. You had to arrive at very specific times, and leave dead on 9 am. This is more of a 'ride' or 'experience' than a genuine hotel facility. I certainly would not recommend more than 1 night.

Room Tip: Be prepared for an adventure, and pack your sense of humour.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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York, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2014

we were really looking forward to this visit, but were sadly let down, we were there for the day visit, we were not offered a seat, there was no bar and our drinks were in plastic glasses. Poor! The rooms smelt and the ice carvings were of immature content, Paddington, Disney etc. The mould with which they had made the ice hotel was sat by the front door, spoiling all illusion.

Room Tip: Don't stay here, choose a different location.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Darmstadt, Germany
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2014

we had a 4-hours-stay at snowhotel...we visited the Hotel with all rooms, then the deers and the Dogs.....it was very very nice to have a glance to the rooms, which are all diferent in carved decoration....as the overnight stay is very expensive in relation to the stay at other Hotels, we didn't spend the night there.

all in a very nice stay for some hours......the tour for the polar light is also very nice...but sadly we could not see the light this night

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2013 via mobile

The hotel is outstanding. It offers a very unique experience and is beautifully decorated by Chinese artists. The food was also excellent and the service efficient. The only downside was that the sauna was not heated at 6 am as promised and had no bucket for the water.

Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kirkenes Snowhotel

Address: Radius Kirkenes AS | Gabba Reindeer and Husky Park, Kirkenes 9915, Norway
Location: Norway > Northern Norway > Nordland > Kirkenes
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Kirkenes
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:1 star — Kirkenes Snowhotel 1*
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to an incredible overnight stay in Kirkenes Snow Hotel. In Decemeber 2011 we open for the sixth season. The hotel has 20 rooms beautiful decorated with snow and ice. It may sound cold, but warm and thick sleeping bags will keep you well and make the overnight stay to an incredible experience. Our pleasant crew will take good care of you and the silence during the night will help you to sleep really good. Before you go to bed, you will be served a tree course arctic dinner, made of local raw materials, at our restaurant Gabba. After the dinner you my go watching out for Northern Lights. At this snow and ice hotel you may order several types of activities trip with a husky dog team, snowmobile trip, walk by snowshoes, go crosscountry skiing, ice-fishing and also the King Crab Safari. At Kirkenes Snow hotel you can get all winter activities. Welcome to a world of arctic experiencies. ... more   less 
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