Saariselkä has a rich history, hosting everyone from reindeer herders and huntsmen to gold miners and the indigenous Sámi, all sheltering from the Finnish Lapland’s cold winters. Today, a new breed of adventurers comes to this sleepy village to follow in the footsteps – and sleigh tracks – of these pioneers in a full complement of winter activities. The only sounds to disturb its picturesque fells and evergreen forests are husky yelps.
As a separate wing to a larger complex, Hotel Tunturi enjoys all the benefits of a larger resort while remaining intimately compact. As such, you can choose from a range of dining options. Perhaps introduce yourself to the flavours of Finnish Lapland in Restaurant Kaltio and the more casual Restaurant Siula. In both, locally sourced ingredients are used to prepare traditional dishes with seafood from the Arctic Ocean and reindeer delicacies a particular highlight. If you’d rather something more familiar, Restaurant Pirtti serves up more recognisable classics in pizzas, steaks and soups. There’s also a range of speciality options available including VIP-sauna dinners and meals prepared in a Lappish hut, complete with heated floor, open fire and reindeer hides.
Set 100 metres away from the main reception and restaurant, Hotel Tunturi 77 rooms are well tucked away; small balconies look out onto the surrounding deciduous forest. Back inside, contemporary interiors are equally welcoming, featuring living areas complete with plush sofas along with tea, coffee and – most importantly – cocoa making facilities. The 30m square space also features an en suite bathroom and sauna. Nightly tariffs include a generous buffet breakfast and, if your room’s private offering wasn’t enough, access to an evening sauna where you can indulge in Finland’s favourite communal tradition.
Thanks to its enviable position, Santa's Hotel Tunturi is primed to make the most of its setting. In winter, keep an eye out for the Northern Lights as you strap on a pair of snowshoes or skis, head out ice fishing or climb aboard for a reindeer, husky or snowmobile safari. Come the summer, the trails and tracks of what’s termed the ‘northernmost living wilderness’ open up to picturesque hikes and walks under the midnight sun. Back at base, perhaps take some time to unwind with a massage or book onto a cooking course to learn how to prepare a traditional Lappish feast.