Even in the far reaches of Lapland’s remotes, Sweden’s innovation takes centre stage. Yes, Stockholm’s design studios and Gothenburg’s hip cafés demand attention, but for the truly unique, look north to find art-installation treehouses and the world’s original snow hotel. They make a perfect combination, as I found out on my recent trip.
My adventure began some 200km north of the Arctic Circle, in Jukkasjärvi on the banks of the frozen Torne River – home to the world-famous ICEHOTEL, now entering its 30th season. As I was here for just one night, I was shown straight to the reception for the winter hotel, where I was walked through the various necessities for what was described as “surviving a night on ice”.
ICEHOTEL 29 Main Hall (Design: Marjolein Vonk & Maurizio Perron/Photo: Asaf Kliger)
Fortunately, I needn’t have worried, as this entailed being provided with the warmest clothing imaginable, as well as an ultra-thick Arctic sleeping bag with capabilities far in excess of -5°c – the hotel’s constant inside temperature. However, before donning all the gear, I had an evening of warmth and fine food to enjoy, in the form of a five-course feast of local dishes, served on blocks of ice amid the snug comforts of the stylish restaurant. It was all delicious, with the moose tartar and smoked egg yolk a particular highlight. Finally, full and fit for sleep, I headed for my ice room, any lingering nerves steeled by a cocktail at the icebar.
Art Suite Haven (Design: Jonas Johansson, Jordi Claramunt & Lukas Petko/Photo: Asaf Kliger
After a surprisingly comfortable night, I woke to a glass of warm lingonberry juice, toasting the arrival of morning. The sauna and breakfast were equally welcome, before I’d time to explore the hotel’s spectacularly themed Art Suites, including those at the permanent ICEHOTEL 365. While their larger size accommodates increasingly fantastical designs, I’d recommend them most for their private warm rooms and saunas – such luxury!
I would also definitely recommend more than a night at the ICEHOTEL, so you have time to try out some of the activities. There’s everything from ice carving to Northern Lights photography courses.
The Mirror Cube
For me, though, it was time to take the train south to Treehotel – a collection of treetop rooms, which take the form of UFOs, birds’ nests and mirrored cubes, all camouflaged among the branches. My favourite has to be the 7th Room, not least for its two chic bedrooms and huge windows with views north. They really do make the most of the Northern Lights.
Again, the food was superb, encapsulating the unique flavours and ingredients of the surrounding rivers and forests. And, as with the ICEHOTEL, there are plenty of excursions to choose from, including the likes of husky sledding, fat-bike tours, guided wildlife safaris and my personal favourite – snowmobiling.
Snowmobile excursion in Lapland
In all, the two are the perfect pairing, offering the chance to combine truly unique stays with all the usual fun of winter in Lapland. Days are spent snowmobiling and dogsledding, while nights are given over to the theatrical displays of the Northern Lights. Inspired? Get in contact or take a look at our ICEHOTEL and Treehotel itinerary: