Staying in an Ice Hotel or Igloo is an experience that has been on my bucket list for a seriously looooong time! On our trip to Europe this past winter we went north to Scandinavia and our final destination was Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland. I’ve drooled over photos of Lapland over the years and visiting was so surreal, it felt like we were living in a snow globe! It is one of the most magical places I have ever visited, and so incredible to tick a night in a ice hotel off the bucket list! We stayed at Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos in one of their snow suites, and the experience was honestly worth every cent.
The Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos
We pre-arranged the hotel shuttle to pick us up from the Santa Claus Village at 2:30pm. The shuttle cost 15€ per person and took just under an hour as there were a number of pick ups. After being out in the elements all day, exploring all there was to see and do at Santa Claus Village, it was wonderful to sit back in the warmth and watch the winter wonderland outside fly by.
The hotel was so magical! We took 5 minutes to have a quick look around before heading into reception. The ice hotel was huge and the glass igloos looked quite magical!
We were then promptly checked in. We read a number of reviews where people had complained about the staff, but from our experience the staff were nothing but friendly and welcoming throughout our stay. We then stored our big suitcases in a storage room off reception and packed what we would need for the rest of our stay into our small hand luggage backpacks. I recommend doing this before you arrive, we weren’t that organised as we’d flown from Helsinki that morning and so had to empty our suitcases out on the floor to find everything we would need over the next 24 hours.
We then headed off on a tour of the SnowHotel and its facilities with one other couple who’d arrived at the same time. All visitors to the SnowHotel are given a tour which includes showing you where your room is, where the toilets and lockers are located and of course, a demonstration about how to use the sleeping bag and liner provided to ensure you survive the night! I was surprised to learn that we should only sleep in socks and one pair of thermal underwear as I’d be planning to sleep in about 10 layers! We were given lockers for our belongings which were located in the changing room which also had about 6 or 8 sets of bunk beds – for those who just can’t make it through the night. I am happy to say that we didn’t need to use these beds!
Our SnowHotel Suite
It was then time to explore on our own! We had booked and paid for a snow suite package, which included our accommodation, a three course dinner and snow sauna experience. The whole thing cost €540 and while it is on the pricey side, it was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad we did it. This price included an upgrade from a standard snow room to a snow suite as well. The snow rooms are basically just a much smaller square room with a bed and no carvings, whereas the snow suites are enormous and each have their own theme and unique ice carvings! We had a peek in a few other rooms and I honestly think we hit the jackpot as ours and one other were just the most beautiful rooms. I highly recommend upgrading to a snow suite because if you’re going to do it, you may as well go all out and it is only an extra €45 per person to upgrade to the suite.
Exploring the SnowHotel
The SnowHotel itself sleeps 70 people and is one of the largest in Scandinavia. It is kept at a consistent –5C°, which is much warmer than the –20C° weather conditions we experienced outside! The hotel is truly a work of art and is created from scratch every single year, with different carvings, ice sculptures and illuminated pieces each year.
The SnowHotel has an Ice Restaurant which seats up to 200 people! It was truly beautiful and although we opted to dine in the warm restaurant we still had a look around the beautiful restaurant. It was decorated with beautiful wall carvings, with ice tables, chairs and reindeer skins to sit on.
There is even an Ice Chapel where people can actually get married!
The carvings throughout the hotel were so intricate and unique. I’ve never seen anything like it and can’t even imagine the skill and technique that would go into creating this masterpiece each year!
It wouldn’t seem right if there wasn’t an Ice Bar in the Snow Hotel, and lucky for us there was! The Ice Bar is open at specific times and we stopped by for a baileys in a ice glass which we were then told to smash against the wall! It’s not often you’re allowed to that in a bar, so we smashed them as hard as we could. The bar was pumping with tunes and it was a really fun experience. Drinks cost €10 each so we had one round before heading to the other (warmer) bar attached to Kota Restaurant.
Dinner at Kota Restaurant
We are early birds so booked the 6:30pm dinner sitting at Kota Restaurant where we were treated to traditional Lappish delicacies! The food was not high end, but it was delicious, satisfying and there was plenty of it, which was just what we needed and wanted after such a big, cold day! We had a few drinks in the bar next to Kota Restaurant which was warm and drinks were reasonably priced, about €8 a beer/cider. I was carefuly not to drink too much though as I didn’t want to have to get up during the night to go to the toilet.
We arrived at dinner a little early as we wanted to watch the salmon being cooked the traditional way, which was slowly cooked by the open fire! The restaurant is built around the open fire which creates a magical, rustic atmosphere.
Entree was a delicious wild mushroom soup with croutons. Dan opted for the sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes, lingonberry sauce and pickles for his main, whilst I chose the salmon served with baked potato, tartar sauce and coleslaw. Dan loved trying the reindeer and I honestly think it was some of the best cooked, flavourful salmon I’ve ever eaten! Dessert was freshly baked berry pie served with vanilla sauce.
It was such a delicious, satisfying meal, served in the rustic warmth of the restaurant. We loved our dining experience at Kota and have zero regrets about not eating in the Ice Restaurant.
Snow Sauna Experience (+ Finnish Sauna)
After dinner it was time for our sauna! The hotel has a large Finnish Sauna called ‘Snowfall’ which caters to all guests. There is an hour each morning and evening where men and women (separately) can use the saunas and showers which is included in the price.
As part of our package we booked the snow sauna experience which included use of a smaller Finnish sauna for an hour, with a 15 minute experience in a snow sauna. You can also pay extra to have the use of an outdoor jacuzzi, however we opted out of this as we both had heavy colds at the time and didn’t think it would be conducive to our health.
The snow sauna is made from snow and ice, with only the benches made from wood. After warming up in the Finnish sauna, you head out to the snow sauna where the steam from the stove keeps the temperature high. There is an attendant on hand to show you around and explain how everything works. Dan quite enjoyed the uniqueness of the snow sauna experience, however I personally really didn’t like it. As soon as the steam filled the room I felt incredibly claustrophobic and decided to leave and go back to our Finnish sauna. It is a very unique experience that I am sure some people would love.
There were showers and toilets for guests to use, however no where to fill up a water bottle (except in the shower, which was a little difficult). I love saunas but always need water while having one so I found this quite difficult and I think most guests would benefit from being able to have access to water or somewhere to refill bottles.
Sleeping in the SnowHotel
It was then time for bed! When staying in the SnowHotel, the hotel has an Aurora Alarm service which you can opt into (for free) to wake you up if the Northern Lights appear. It snowed heavily throughout our stay so unfortunately we didn’t see the lights, but we did get a lot of snow, so I think it is a win-win situation!
We changed into our thermals in the locker room, used the bathroom and stored all our extra belongings in the locker. We were advised to shove our jackets into the bottom of our sleeping bag, before getting in our liners and then into the sleeping bag. That way it would be warm and toasty in the morning! We were advised it was fine to leave our boots next to the bed, that they would get cold but not wet. There was also a power point next to the bed, so we charged our phone and just kept in in the sleeping bag so it stayed warm.
I won’t lie – it did take me a while to get comfortable and not feel claustrophobic in the sleeping bag with it tied up around my face. If I wasn’t there I think Dan would have been asleep in minutes! After maybe half an hour of squirming and fidgeting, I finally felt comfortable and not claustrophobic and fell asleep. The mattresses were really comfortable and you never would have guessed you were sleeping on a bed made of ice and reindeer hides!
I have the most wonderful memory of the cold air on my face and hearing absolutely nothing, the hotel was so silent and I think the ice and snow must block out all noise. It was such a unique, refreshing sleep!
We slept soundly through until we were woken up at 8am with a cup of hot lingonberry juice. The juice was so delicious, however it was served in a styrofoam cup. I really wish in such a natural, beautiful place that they would be a tad more environmentally conscious and use mugs or reusable cups. We laid in the warmth of our sleeping bags until we were busting to use the loo, I didn’t want to get up, I was just so comfortable and toasty!
Breakfast & Reindeer Time
Once we dragged ourselves out of bed and got changed we headed over to the log restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast is included for everyone and is a standard hot and cold breakfast buffet. There was a decent range of food available, with something for everyone.
After breakfast we went to visit the two resident reindeer! They were very friendly and happily ate food from our hands while we patted them and took photos.
On check out we were given a certificate of achievement to celebrate out overnight stay in Arctic conditions, something that will also help us remember this epic experience! We didn’t book a return shuttle as we were picked up by Bearhill Husky for our Husky Ride! Post to come soon on this!
There are 39 glass igloos which if you are lucky, would give you the most incredible view of the Northern Lights. I think I would still like to stay in a glass igloo on another holiday one day, however absolutely loved our SnowHotel experience!
We read really mixed reviews before booking, with some absolutely loving the experience and others hating it, but decided we needed to experience it for ourselves. Our stay wasn’t sponsored in any way and we paid over
€500 for our stay and while expensive, we honestly think it was worth it. I recommend booking a package to make the most of it, and not having to worry about the prices while you are there.
Would we do it again?
Maybe. It felt like a once in a lifetime experience and while I would like to think we would return to Lapland one day, there is just so many other incredible places in the world that we are yet to visit!
I’m so glad we splurged on a stay at the Arctic SnowHotel, it is a magical experience that we will never forget.