Idyllically positioned on the shores of Lake Tönölänsalmi, this delightful getaway soars out of a dense evergreen canopy – the kind that characterises the Finnish-Russian border. In fact, its dramatically gabled roof – extending out in two wings – has drawn inspiration from one of the country’s favourite natives – the eagle. However, most come here to spot the region’s famous wild bears instead, hunkering down in a secret hide tucked away in the surrounding forest wilderness. Alternatively, there’s a full range of exploratory activities – from winter husky sledding to summer lake swims.
As a listed building, protected by the Finnish National Board of Antiquities, this is a truly unique proposition. It appears, for all the world, as an ancient wooden fortress with the lake as its moat. Inside, the sense of heritage continues, with interiors accented with Central European flourishes. Across 44 rooms and three luxurious suites, the likes of wrought iron furnishings and four-poster beds are complemented by contemporary artwork. Upgrade for views overlooking the lake or make use of the anti-allergenic rooms, complete with special linens and parquet floors.
While the hotel’s eponymous restaurant caters for both Finnish and international tastebuds, local products are proudly showcased throughout. Fish, gamey meats and berries are among the highlights. Starting with salmon soup or beef brisket, you’ll then tuck into such regional favourites as moose entrecote and pork in port wine sauce. For something particularly Finnish, end with a turnip cake, accompanied by vanilla ice cream and raspberries. There’s even the option of a historic dinner, for those wanting to experience authentically traditional Finnish cuisine.
This is where Kalevala comes into its own. Come summer, the hotel’s signature activity is a night spent in a purpose-built hide, watching out for wild brown bears and wolverines. Or, follow in their footsteps with a guided walk along their tracks. The wildlife theme continues with elk safaris and husky farm visits while lake fun can be had with fishing trips, swims in rapids and rowing boat jaunts. There’s also a full range of cycling and walking routes. And the activities don’t end with the season, as snowmobile safaris, husky sledding, ice fishing and cross country skiing help you explore the region’s wintery playground. Back at base, year-round saunas, massages and Jacuzzis offer more relaxing alternatives.