The Arctic SnowHotel in Rovaniemi is a fully functional hotel made entirely of snow and ice. It’s built every year starting mid-November and is open for business from December to March. Even the shape and design of the hotel also changes every year.
When summer arrives, the hotel melts, and the water returns to the neighbouring lake. Quite poetic. From furniture made of ice, and intricate carvings on the snow walls, every element in the Arctic SnowHotel is custom-made every year.
I remember as a kid I saw a television program about a snow hotel, and I was fascinated by it. Walking into the Arctic SnowHotel felt like living that childhood fantasy.
How Is A Snow Hotel Made?
The Arctic SnowHotel (and other snow hotels) is a temporary structure built to last the winter (December to March). Each year, it takes a construction crew 3 weeks to build the hotel. Water is pumped from a nearby lake, frozen, and moulded into the structure. To construct the snow hotel, snow and ice are created using special equipment as there is very little snow to work with during November. Special designers are hired who help design the hotel and give it a unique layout every year.
Some snow hotels take tremendous pride in decorating their interiors. If you’re a big fan of the Game of Thrones, there is a GoT-themed snow hotel in Lapland.
Our Experience At The Arctic SnowHotel
As Rovaniemi serves as the hub for all things Lapland, the Arctic SnowHotel is probably the most popular snow hotel in Finland. The hotel is located 27 km away from the city centre near Lake Lehtojärvi. It’s easily accessible by car, or you can request a pick-up and drop from the hotel.
There are multiple packages to select from when it comes to visiting the Arctic SnowHotel. You can choose to
- Only tour the hotel
- Tour the hotel and dine inside
- Or spend the night at the snow hotel
We chose the tour of the snow hotel with the dinner package.
The tour of the snow hotel includes a peek into all the rooms, the dining areas, and the ice chapel. Yes, many couples get married at the ice chapel in the Arctic SnowHotel! However, I doubt that couples would want to spend their first night as newlyweds on beds made of ice.
During the tour, we were free to explore the hotel on our own. I loved how each room was uniquely decorated, and lit. And each of the three dining areas had different snow carvings on their walls.
The tour ended at the Ice Bar in the hotel. As the name suggests, the entire bar is made of snow and ice. Even the glasses that the drinks are served in are made of ice. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise that most people were more interested in taking photos inside the ice bar than getting a drink.
Dinner At The Arctic SnowHotel
After drinks at the Ice Bar, those who had signed up for the tour only were sent back to the bus, while the rest of us were whisked away into one of the dining areas. Pre-selected meal options include chicken, elk, salmon, or vegetarian. We had selected the salmon.
Without going into too much detail, I would say that the food was average at best. However, we weren’t there for the food. We were there for an incredibly unique dining experience. A chance to sit on a dining table made of ice, inside a room made of snow. Of course, all the food was served on normal plates, but the dessert was served on a plate made of ice, in the shape of a snowflake.
Spending A Night In A Snow Hotel
Most visitors experience this unique construction by spending a night at the Arctic SnowHotel. The SnowHotel sleeps 70 guests in total. There are standard rooms for two, three, five and six persons. And suites for two to three persons. Each room has a unique design with walls and furniture decorated with ice art, and illuminated artwork.
However, spending a night at the snow hotel may not be for everyone. The temperature in the room stays between 0°C to 5°C throughout the night. There is a warm area where guests can continue their night’s sleep peacefully if they’re unable to sleep on the bed of ice. However, if you’re able to spend the night inside the hotel, you’ll be woken up with a hot drink served in your room, and a certificate of achievement celebrating your overnight stay in arctic conditions!
Guests are provided fleece-lined sleeping bags intended for extreme conditions combined with reindeer furs to stay warm. In addition, the snow hotel recommends that guests pack the following items for the night:
- Warm hat
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Long trousers
- Woollen socks
Other than heating, another obvious amenity that’s missing inside the snow hotel is toilets and showers. The closest toilet and shower facilities are in the adjacent main building, Lumikartano.
Although most visitors to Lapland want to spend their night inside a glass igloo, I’d say that spending a night inside a snow hotel is far more adventurous!
Northern Lights at the Arctic SnowHotel
The Arctic SnowHotel is also a great location to catch the northern lights. As the property is located far away from the city, there is no light pollution. On a clear winter night, there is a high probability of seeing the skies light up! The hotel has a northern lights alarm that alerts guests when the lights appear.
If spending a night inside the snow hotel isn’t your cup of tea, there are glass igloos adjacent to the Arctic SnowHotel. In fact, the full name of the property is Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos. The glass igloos offer all the modern amenities of a hotel room, with the added benefit of a glass ceiling. So, guests can enjoy the northern lights from the comfort of their room.
Whether you decide to simply tour, eat dinner, or spend a night, there is no denying that visiting the Arctic SnowHotel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Be sure to check out more photos from our trip to the snow hotel.
More details about the Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos can be found on their website.