Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Finnish Lapland.
Due to a continued strong response from readers, we are running another batch of ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews over the next few weeks. This time we wanted to hear about your ‘unique’ experiences and we’ve once again received a great amount of suggestions. Hopefully you will enjoy reading these reviews. As always you can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews by clicking here.
Today’s hotel is Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort– a truly magical winter wonderland resort where you sleep under a glass dome, potentially looking directly at the Northern Lights.
Here is reader Clare’s review:
The nearest airport is Ivalo, from where it is a short drive to the Kakslauttanen Artic Resort. Coming from London you have – in normal times – two choices, either BA direct from Gatwick (books up fast) or Finnair. The Finnair routes goes to Helsinki out of Heathrow with an overnight stay and a morning flight to Ivalo. Either way you should be able to use or collect Avios.
The direct flight is obviously quicker, but it cuts your time at the resort short as you arrive in the late afternoon and will have to leave the resort early on your departure day to catch your return flight. This is not ideal when paying a high nightly rate. For this reason we chose the Finnair stop-over flight, stayed at the Radisson Blu City Center for one night and maximised our time at the resort.
The next morning we took a Finnair flight to Ivalo. Landing in Ivalo is a true Arctic experience – small airport (maybe only two gates) and snow everywhere!! Magical. As we went down the plane steps most of the passengers were already taking pictures in the snow.
The Kakslauttanen Resort rep was waiting for us as we came through security. While we waited for the rest of the passengers, a guy in Finnish traditional dress, who was there to greet the tourists, let us pet a baby reindeer.
The coach ride to the resort was an about 45 minutes long exciting white knuckle ride mostly at 60km/h in heavy snow on only partly ploughed highways! Fab driving though.
Initially we were looking at the two person Kelo (dome) accommodation, but once we realised it was very small and used a shared shower block, we decided to go for the pricier (roughly £850 per night) spacious Kelo Lodge, which was excellent. Technically it could sleep six and was perfect for two. It would also be OK for a family of four, but as it was open-plan it would not be ideal if travelling with other couples.
The Kelo Lodge is the resort’s premier offering that comes with a separate smaller check-in and service centre, which felt special.
After checking in we had to choose a wooden sleigh to transport our luggage to our lodge!
Kelo Lodges have a kitchenette with a fridge and a private bathroom with shower and sauna(!), all within the lodge! The best bit of course is (like the basic Kelo accomodation) that two people can sleep under the stars in the integrated glass dome, from where you might see the Northern Lights if you are lucky.
There is even an Arura Alarm that goes off if the Northern Lights are spotted so you don’t miss them. Sadly during our short stay we weren’t so lucky but it was still amazing to sleep out there looking up to the sky.
Food and beverages
We think all rooms come with half board, but as their website was a bit unclear about this we ended up booking via Booking.com where we had half board confirmed. The price was roughly the same either way.
It was table service at dinner, and the menu was a choice of two starters, three mains and two desserts. It was all very hearty and tasty, but basic. We got to try a Reindeer mince dish, local fish, lingonberry sauces and several traditional desserts. If you are a picky eater, bring cooking supplies with you as there aren’t alternative options for many miles.
Drinks were served at our table at pretty reasonable prices (surprisingly so for Finland, and for being so remote). On the second day we discovered the Arura Bar – which is a big domed bar area through the back of the restaurant – wow – what a find. The cocktail menu was great and also not too expensive – all things considered.
Breakfast was served until 11am, which was perfect for us as we love a lie in. It was a plentiful hot and cold buffet. You could pretty much find anything you wished for.
Each morning we ate a late breakfast and went straight through to an early dinner around 6pm. Therefore I cannot comment on lunch.
We brought our ski wear, and it was perfect. Very chilly, dark and snowing most of the time. You can also rent resort snow suits if needed (a bit 1980, but they looked functional).
There were lots of activities to book (horse drawn sleighs, husky sleds, Father Christmas, and many more). To be honest most of them were a bit too pricey. If you go there with kids, I imagine you need very deep pockets. There was also a viewing observatory, an art gallery and a shop.
We found the whole resort magical and spent the first day exploring. Walking around the resort, you could see resort Reindeer in their enclosures, but we never found the huskies – you could hear them – but they were in kennels a little way out.
For the second day we booked Nordic Skiing – which was excellent. This activity was offered at the other resort centre, so we took the complimentary shuttle bus that runs between the two resorts. They have their own track and the price included equipment as well as an excellent instructor (highly experienced, having apparently previously been part of the Finnish team!). Surprisingly this activity was reasonably priced – I guess as you had to be quite energetic!
You can find all activities offered during the Winter period including pricing here.
Kakslauttanen Resort is absolutely magical. I would go again in a heartbeat, and probably will, hoping to see the Northern Lights next time!
PS by Anika: If Lapland appeals, you should read Rob’s 2018 review of his trip on Europe’s last major sleeper train, from Stockholm to Kiruna in Swedish Lapland, and his stay at Camp Ripan.