The Northern Lights are a magical sight, an experience you'll remember forever. Can you make it any better? Yes, you can. Staying in an ice hotel lets you soak up a whole lot more of the unique arctic atmosphere, feel closer to nature in all its wild, snowbound glory, and enjoy a truly intimate relationship with the endless, pristine snow and ice. When you're staying inside what's effectively a giant block of ice, it's almost as though you're part of nature rather than observing it from the outside.
If you'd like to get more out of the aurora's remarkable splendour, put an ice hotel at the top of your holiday wish list. The best ones are designed with the Northern Lights in mind, and some are even created specially for viewing the Lights from your bed. Imagine sleeping in an ice house surrounded by the snow and mountains, under a clear sky so dazzlingly starry it goes on forever.
The world's ice hotels are transient, and their temporary nature somehow makes them even more magical. The first hint of spring sees them melting, disappearing without a trace, to be rebuilt as soon as the cold weather returns. Plenty come with skiing nearby, plus a host more exciting snow-inspired activities to enjoy. Here's our special ice hotel feature, revealing some of the very finest ice hotel northern lights opportunities.
Ice hotel Sweden is was first built in 1989, making it the original and first such hotel, 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It's set in the lovely Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi and every room is unique, each carved and sculpted by a different artist, each with its own theme. Roughly 1,600 tons of snow and ice from the nearby Torne River are used in its construction, and the hotel usually lasts until March before melting away to nothing. The hotel's surprisingly comfy ice beds are covered with thick mattresses and loads of super-warm reindeer skins, and you can rest assured the temperature in your room won't drop below minus 7C. Which sounds cold but believe us, you'll be toasty!
One of the most popular breaks to IceHotel is a short holiday combining one night in an Ice Room and two in a warm room or chalet, giving you the best of both worlds. There are reindeer encounters, dog sledding and a thrilling Northern Lights hunt via snowmobile on tap, and the hotel offers ski-in, ski-out access. There's a restaurant and bar/lounge, ski equipment rental, a sauna, storage for your luggage, and horse riding to enjoy. Plus free WiFi and parking, and easy access to attractions like Kiruna Church, town hall and mine, all less than 20 miles away. Kiruna airport is just a 13 minute drive away and the station is a 20 minute drive.
One very special Ice hotel in Lapland you won't want to miss is the magnificent Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, a wonderland of a place offering fabulous glass igloos, snow igloos and cute wooden chalets with private saunas. It comes with superb views of the aurora and offers the chance to enjoy safaris with snowmobiles, huskies or reindeer. There's also ice fishing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding through winter.
In the autumn there's an incredible range of activities including horse safaris and fishing trips, hiking, gold panning, mountain biking and ATV safaris. In summer there are cruises to enjoy plus trips to Norway, canoeing and white water kayaking, fishing, trips to collect mushrooms and berries, and more.
Just six miles from Finland's biggest ski resort, access to the unique Arctic environment is yours thanks to this wonderful place. The view from the glass igloos is simply spectacular, an ice hotel northern lights special, as is the vista from the incredible underground Northern Lights House. Ski fans adore the place, since it's both close to the lively holiday resort of Levi and bathed in the perfect peace of the icy wilderness.
All the comforts of a top-class holiday home are yours for the taking. The resort's premium igloos, for example, sleep two and have their own small kitchen, shower and loo. The insulated windows are heated electrically so stay clear of snow and ice day and night. You get your own massage shower, slippers, robes and towels. Plus an electric stove and microwave, a coffee maker, kettle, toaster and fridge, a hair dryer, and radio/CD. But the motorised bed is the best bit, easy to convert into two singles if you like and the perfect place from which to admire the heavenly aurora. Last but never least, a gorgeous, high altitude location guarantees absolutely breathtaking views stretching as far as the eye can see.
Set in the very heart of Lapland, this hotel's lovely Fell Centre igloos and snow chalets are all about adventure. The rooms here are warm and cosy with a traditional alpine feel, offering superbly comfortable beds and all the amenities you could hope for. A winter mountain break here comes with a great chance of seeing the spectacular Northern Lights, and the hotel has built its own observatory for the purpose.
34 smoke-free guest rooms, two restaurants and two bars, breakfast on request and ski rental and lessons make it perfect for winter sports lovers. There's a sauna and sun terrace, a library and a laundry for you to use, plenty of meeting rooms for business visitors and a lovely place to picnic. Free WiFi and parking, plus great bathrooms and free tea and coffee makes it special. You're on the doorstep of Saariselka Ski Resort, just over ten miles away, the Angry Birds Activity Park at Saariselka, the Saariselkä Sport Resort, Gold Prospector Museum, Koilliskaira Visitor Centre and the Ivalo River Beach, 30 miles away. The airport at Ivalo is around a half hour drive away.
Another ice hotel Finland not to miss is a proper Lapland Christmas special, the Lapland Snow Village, perfect for the kids and an ice hotel northern lights venue to remember. The village is a wonderland of snow rooms, snow suites and illuminated ice art, including a couple of ice restaurants, an ice cocktail bar and ice chapel. There are 24 smoke-free guest rooms to choose from plus convenient ski-in/ski-out access, cross-country skiing to enjoy and a tasty free buffet breakfast.
There's free WiFi in the lobby and free parking. You're less than 13 miles from the magnificent Yllas Ski Resort. The Kellokas Visitor Centre is 17 miles away and the Art museum Einari Junttila 18 miles away. And you're only 20 miles or so from Kesankijarvi, and Kittila's Museum of Local History and Culture. There's more fabulous skiing at Levi Ski Resort, just short of 30 miles away.
Inspired? If so we'll be delighted to help you create your ideal ice hotels and Northern Lights experience.