Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Way above the Arctic Circle, where the snow is thick and fluffy, Lapland dazzles tourists with log cabin villages and Santa Claus. This white wilderness makes up one-third of Finland, located 625 miles north of Helsinki, the nation’s capital. Home to eight national parks and 180,000 inhabitants, Lapland sprawls over 93,000 square kilometers of land. It’s large and isolated—the barren landscape punctuated by tiny towns with more huskies than humans. Here, temperatures stay below zero from November through March. Summers are milder: average highs flutter in the high 60s from June through August.
Once part of Sweden, then Russia, today Lapland is all Finland: locals speak Finnish and the Euro serves as the currency. Six airports serve the area: Ivalo, Murmansk, Kuusamo, Kemi-Tornio, Kittila, Enontekio and, the busiest, Rovaniemi, which brings the bulk of tourists. Visitors make the two-mile journey from Rovaniemi Airport to Santa Park by foot, taxi or sleigh ride. Home to Santa’s workshop, an elf school, post office and gingerbread kitchen, the amusement park blends Christmas and Lappish culture—the traditions of the indigenous Sami people who live here.
Twenty-three miles, or a 30-minute hotel shuttle bus, from Ivalo Airport in Lapland’s northeast corner, lies Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, a 148-room hotel known for its designer igloos—small pods with glass roofs that provide stunning sky views. Lucky guests can see the Northern Lights—a natural phenomenon that occurs in the northern hemisphere—at night directly from the warmth of their private igloos.
Other accommodation includes traditional cottages with contemporary decor and log chalets with a sauna and fireplace in every unit. Prices range from $220-590 per night for a standard room.
Kakslauttanen, just over from the Arctic Sea, serves as the perfect base for exploring this stunning patch of Lapland. Guests can go hiking, biking, fishing and horse riding in the winter or jump on the cruise that glides the nearby Lemmenjoki River in the summer. Also, the Urho Kekkonen National Park, known for its craggy rocks and trickling streams, is less than four miles away. Stand out activities include horse riding through the snowy winter forest, dog sled riding (!!) and a reindeer sleigh safari, which you can do at night to hunt for the Northern Lights.
After a day sightseeing, guests can relax in the largest smoke sauna in the world—great for treating achy muscles—or eat at one of two restaurants. The West Village Aurora Restaurant has a glass igloo bar and serves local Lappish cuisine like fresh fish and game meat. Breakfast and dinner are included in your daily rate. Editor’s note: 2 to 3 nights is the perfect amount of time here, especially if you are staying in an igloo.
Address: Kiilopääntie 9, 99830 Saariselkä, Finland