If you want a unique Arctic experience, this place can definitely provide that. It is located in the village of Saariselka in the Arctic Circle in Finland. To get here, you can fly from Helsinki to Ivalo airport. There's a transfer that will pick you up from the airport to the hotel.
This hotel labels itself as 5-star which I highly disagree. It's 3-star at best. The reception building is combined with the restaurant, store, luggage storage and office. You enter to a cramp space with a cashier next to where you get coffee and other food items. So check in can be quite chaotic. The rates include half board which means breakfast and dinner are included. Lunch can be quite pricey at €10 for a bowl of soup. When you are having a meal and have to get coffee or juice and there is check-in going on, you have to navigate yourself thru a crowd of confused tourist trying to get their bearing. Note that the person checking you in will be the same person booking your activities or the cashier when you are paying for stuff you are purchasing.
Once checked-in, you will be handed a map and instructed to grab a sled to haul your own luggage to your cabin. During winter, the paths shown on the map may not be accurate, depending on how they cleared the snow on the paths. We stayed a total of 3 nights, 1 night in a regular igloo and 2 nights in a glass igloo. Because it didn't get cold enough, the igloos along with the ice restaurant, ice chapel and other ice structure weren't built. So we ended up getting upgraded on our first night to a Queen Suite. This is fantastic!
The Queen Suite was a large cabin with an outdoor patio, a lounging/seating area, small kitchenette, toilet room (next to kitchenette), four poster bed, desk, stone fire place, big bathroom with shower, claw-foot tub, sauna and an outdoor hot tub in the back next to the bathroom. It is quaint in feel. A log cabin with nice cozy furniture with no TV or telephone (however, a complimentary wifi is available in the reception building). It was a nice experience to light your own fire. The floors have radiant heating which makes it really comfortable to walk barefoot. There are several things that would have made this room worthy of 5-star status: more towels (there were 2 bath towels and 3 hand towels total), a coffee maker (the kitchenette had plates, cups, wine glasses, utensils, pot for boiling water), coffee, tea, sugar, usual basic needs that a normal hotel provides. We had to buy tea bags at €2.50/each (expensive!) to take advantage of being able to boil water for hot drinks during the night. The tap water is good for drinking but the fridge smelled bad so after filling up the pitcher, we put it outside half buried in snow for cold drinking water. We enjoyed the Queen Suite though. It was very comfortable and quiet. It was perfect for a relaxing evening by the fire. We used the hot tub, it was fun except the water smelled and there is nowhere to hang your towels. The sauna takes too long to heat up, so we ended up not using it. The toilet is too far from the bathroom, it's on the other end of the cabin where the kitchenette is. I find this quite odd and terribly annoying. The four poster bed is quite romantic but it has the European style double twin beds and is too firm. The beddings are quite rough on the skin as well. It was sad to have to check-out at 10AM the following morning.
Our second & third nights were at the glass igloo which is the reason we wanted to stay at this place. We had to drag our luggage twice, first was to check-out of the suite and then after checking in for the glass igloo. There were a few hours gap between this so we had to leave our luggage at the the luggage storage room. The idea of this igloo is that you can look up the sky at night while laying on your bed to star gaze or if you are lucky to watch the "aurora borealis"... This idea did not disappoint, however... the glass igloo is much smaller than we anticipated based on the super wide angle shots on their website. The entrance is about 4feet high and when you enter, there is luggage platform on one side, and a small toilet room and sink on the other side and then enough space for 2 twin sized bed with about a 3 feet gap between. There is a privacy curtain around the lower part of the igloo and frosted glass where the toilet is. Very sparsely decorated. Very unique but is not a 5-star accommodation. For the price per night, they could have designed a bigger igloo or one with a lower level that can house a full bathroom/toilet. A little seating area would be great as well and coffee maker or electric pot to boil water for tea during a cold night. To shower, you have to cross the lake and go to a communal sauna and shower facilities. Not an easy task on a cold winter night.
There are two seating for dinner, we opted for the 6PM (the other one is at 8PM). There are only a couple of hours of daylight here in early January, so 6PM felt late. The dinner was a 3-course meal. The first night was a creamy salmon and vegetable soup, white fish with carrots and potatoes topped with creamy mushroom sauce and a lingonberry sauce for dessert. Basic but it's tasty. The drinks are extra, about €7-10/each depending on what you order. The breakfast was pretty basic, toast, boiled eggs, cold cuts, cheeses, cereal & yogurt. To get your coffee, you need to cross the chaos of the reception or people checking the list of activity times.
There were activities offered and we did the Reindeer Aurora Hunting at night. It was fun, relaxing while you stare at the starry sky and have the silhouette of the pine trees looming over you. They provide ample clothing to keep you warm. I doubt that they really hunted for auroras, they go on the same track each night, stop at the same firepit to make coffee and rely on luck completely to see the aurora. It also is in a dense forest not passing through any clearings for prime viewing spots. It was pitch dark most of the time so after we looked at photos we took of the reindeers, they look sick with bloody gush on some broken antlers. Kind of sad... The other activity we did was a snow mobiling tour in the morning, This one was worth every euro spent! Again, they provide ample gear to keep you warm. Good tour guide and the area we went to is truly spectacular. It really felt like you are in the arctic. We also got lucky cause the sun came out, the tour took us to a mountain top passing some skying lodge and looking over the flats below all the way to Russia. I was awe inspired! An tour not to be missed when you stay here.
All-in-all... it was a trip to remember. I cannot emphasize enough the uniqueness of the glass igloo. I just wish they don't label it 5-star so I can adjust my expectations accordingly.
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- Also Known As:
- Kakslauttanen Hotel And Igloo Village
- Kakslauttanen Hotel Igloo Village
- Kakslauttanen Hotel Saariselka
- Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort Finland/Saariselka