Witnessing the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is an essential experience, often life-altering because of its almost extraterrestrial beauty. To do so almost alone in the arctic landscape is even better. So, we rounded up some of the most beautiful Nordic hideouts out there, where the natural phenomenon can be appreciated best, as well as all the other benefits of getting cosy in the great outdoors.
Kent Jonsson and Britta Jonsson-Lindvall were running a B&B in a former retirement home from the 1930s in Sweden’s Harads village, Lapland, when their business grew in an unprecedented direction. On a fishing trip in Russia, Kent just happened to meet three of Sweden’s most renowned architects who found the unspoilt nature of the Lule River valley in Lapland to be the perfect playground to manifest their ideas.
What resulted were some of the world’s most unique treehouses, seven to be exact, that bring together modern architecture and nature. Most notably the Mirrorcube, by Tham & Videgård, is (as its name suggests) clad in reflective glass and is therefore almost invisible among the trees.
Other extraordinary treehouses include the UFO, which indeed looks extraterrestrial, by Inredningsgruppen; the Blue Cone by Sandell & Sandberg, which is actually a red conical treehouse; and the Bird’s Nest also by Inredningsgruppen with a façade completely composed of wild tree branches.
Built in a circular shape with a plunge pool in the centre, this extremely unique sauna just floats on the Lule River, which freezes over in the wintertime – making it a very spectacularly arctic experience. As close to a complete immersion in nature as possible, Arctic Bath was conceived by architect Bertil Harström (who also designed the UFO and Bird’s Nest at nearby Treehotel) and additionally includes six rooms on the water, six rooms on land and a restaurant.
The floating spa is covered in tree trunks inspired by the log jam, which was used for transporting timber up until the 1960s. After getting steamy in the sauna take an extremely cold dip in the ice bath, Swedish style, before relaxing with a stone massage or facial, and then heading to a dinner of modern-reinterpreted traditional Swedish dishes made with local ingredients.
Of course, the spa and hotel is also a perfect spot to gander at the breathtaking Northern Lights in the wintertime.
Seeing the Northern Lights is on everyone’s bucket list and this hotel in Finnish Lapland is one of the best places to make that particular dream a reality. In a remote location completely isolated from artificial light, the ranch’s Sky View Cabins are ideal for observing the stunning natural phenomenon, which occurs between September and April.
These individual log cabins have large heated windows and glass ceilings right above the bed for unencumbered views of the sky and the purely natural landscape all around. On those particular evenings with clear skies, the glass ceilings are like a portal into the universe, with millions of stars as well as the Northern Lights themselves lulling one into a perfectly peaceful sleep.
Nearly 200 km above the Arctic Circle, the ranch has 16 cabins as well as a restaurant with a menu of Northern dishes created specially by the chefs. In the winter, make sure to drop by the reindeer enclosure next to the restaurant to feed the animals in the morning.
There’s a lot that can be said for this luxurious arctic hotel in Finland. From its exclusive Eagle View suite with a glass ceiling and windows for uninterrupted views to its restaurant with pure Northern flavours to its arctic spa with comprehensive treatments. But what stands out the most is a safari program that offers a different activity every day of the week.
Take a snowmobile safari through the wilderness or stay overnight in a real snow igloo on top of Iso-Syöte hill with nothing but nature all around. Go ice fishing or visit a reindeer farm, or just take a snowshoe hiking trip at your own pace to really take in the surroundings.
How about a safari with a husky sledge, or a ride with a traditional Finnish Kicksledge? Or, most notably, a romantic night time snowmobile safari through nature to admire the Northern Lights in all their glory? Whatever you can think of, this safari hotel seems to have it.
Another destination that is an incredible journey far away from the usual routine, the five eco-friendly cabins of the Arctic Hideaway are located on the very remote Norwegian island of Sørværet. Initially acquired in 2004 by Håvard Lund, the site started out as his personal workspace, but the area’s serene beauty soon convinced the jazz musician and composer to share it with others.
After teaming up with the architect firms Rintala Eggertsson and TYIN tegnestue, one of the world’s most beautiful workspace for musicians, artists and other creatives was born. True to its workspace-in-nature ethos, what makes this particular hideaway stand out is that rooms are not individually rented, but the whole facility itself.
Guests have the kitchen, studio, bathrooms, sauna and all five cabins to themselves to let all their creative juices flow freely without any interruptions. With a caretaker available for any requests, the cabins are also a great place to catch the Northern Lights due to their positioning above the Arctic circle.
Last but certainly not least, this very unique hideout offers its guests the chance to live inside an exclusive glass igloo in the middle of Finnish Lapland’s extraordinary natural beauty. The surprisingly spacious igloos includes all the modern comforts for cosy nights spent under the magical Arctic starry sky.
Start the day with an abundant breakfast buffet at the Aurora Sky restaurant, thoroughly relax in the sauna and outdoor jacuzzi, get cozy by the log fire inside the hotel’s own Kota (a traditional Sami dwelling) and do some shopping at the Golden Crown shop with all manner of Finnish design and handicrafts.
Guests can also get active and explore the surroundings by booking activities such as snowshoe hiking, kicksled safaris, reindeer farm visits or reindeer safaris. But at the end of the day, a much deserved dinner at the Restaurant Utsu inside a glass roofed tower is a must. Think chef’s menus composed of responsible local products that present all the best of arctic nature and its changing seasons.
If you are already dreaming of a trip to the far north and still want to decide where to go, you can let our Nordic design accessories get you in the mood until then.
Words: Feride Yalav-Heckeroth