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‘My Favourite Hotel’ review – Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselka, Northern Finland

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This is our review of the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselka, Northern Finland.

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

Review, Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Saariselka, Finland

Today’s hotel is Kakslauttanen Arctic Resorta 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:

Getting there

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.

Arrival

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.

Review, Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Saariselka, Finland

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.

Review, Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Saariselka, Finland

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.

Accommodation

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!

Review, Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Saariselka, Finland

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. 

Review, Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Saariselka, Finland

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.

Review, Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Saariselka, Finland

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.  

Activities

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.

Review, Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Saariselka, Finland

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.

Conclusion

Kakslauttanen Resort is absolutely magical. I would go again in a heartbeat, and probably will, hoping to see the Northern Lights next time! 

If you want to find out more, the hotel’s website is here. Pricing for the Winter season 2020/2021 is here.

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.


Hotel offers update – December 2022:

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Comments (22)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • MikeL says:

    Wow, £850 a night is very expensive. We visited Saariselka a few years ago with the kids. Fabulous place. Ivalo airport was lovely. The landing was exciting due to the amount of snow on the ground. Runway appeared at the very last second. Kitlla is another place worth visiting in northern Finland.

  • Andrew Mc says:

    Is it just me, or does it seem very odd when reviews like this don’t include a single photo of the accommodation internals?!? Not much here to make me understand why I would ever consider shelling out £850/ngt to go.

    • Rob says:

      When I review a hotel, I know I am reviewing it so the bathroom is photographed. Different situation here as the writer never planned to write it up at the time they stayed.

      • Novice says:

        I must admit I think it also depends how you travel. Eg. when I was travelling with family or friends I never cared about taking pics of bathrooms/bedrooms etc. But, when travelling solo, it’s like I want my family/friends to travel with me through the pics so I take pics like crazy. At 1 stage, I was taking 200 pics a day but then the more I travelled I just started saying well if you wanna see, go yourselves.

  • Anne says:

    Bit surprised the author would consider the activities expensive when shelling out £850/night for accommodation. Lapland is pricey, don’t get me wrong, but when we went to Levi a couple of years ago over Christmas the standard trips on offer were fairly consistent in price no matter where you booked e.g. snowmobiling around €120pp for a shared machine for 3 hours. YMMV at a different resort of course.

    Lapland is a fantastic place though, we’ve got Saariselka on our to do list so interesting to read the review. Aurora cabins never come cheap anywhere though!!

    • Rob says:

      Activities were very pricey when we went to Camp Ripan. However the tourist info office in Kiruna had leaflets from the providers direct, charging far less. The hotel seemed to be adding a 50% mark up.

      People who can pay for unique rooms like this are still capable of feeling ripped off when charge d a ludicrous sum for a bit of snow shoe walking etc.

      • Anne says:

        We used the local tourist office in Levi which worked well. They were slightly cheaper than going via our hotel undoubtedly.

        We looked at Saariselka for Christmas 2020 earlier this year and found that excursions and activities were similar in price to those we’d come across in Levi, give or take comparative exchange rates. I’d definitely be wary of using the hotel without checking alternative options.

  • BS says:

    It’s a good review, and I’m intrigued. Very unusual, different, and I would love to go. But, I think there’s a difference in the value of money between readers. £850 is a lot of money, this makes me think the ‘reasonably‘ priced drinks (for Finland) may be a bit more than I am imagining! This would probably push the whole holiday further away from my available budget. Would be useful to have absolute figures. As well as a photo of the £850 room!

    • Waribai says:

      We paid £2500 for 2 adults and a child for 7 nights including flights from Gatwick to stay B&B in the self catering apartments of the Snow Elf hotel. We went for Xmas week but only booked in mid November. So booking late saved us a bit too…Eating out was similar in price to the UK. Beer was similar too. Wine another story! We cooked every other night and from my memory the supermarket was not too expensive either…

  • Joe says:

    Small correction, the man in a traditional dress is wearing a Sami traditional dress. Sami are the indigenous people of Lapland. Finnish national dress is quite different.

  • Richmond_Surrey says:

    I spent two weeks in Ivalo and visited Saariselka for a day trip. Prices were for Japanese visitors. It’s not a good place for aurora, I would recommend Abisko for that.

    Regarding Kiruna article, I stayed couple of times in Camp Ripan and I quite like it. £850 will allow you to stay for 5-6 days there.

  • Waribai says:

    We flew into Kittilä too in a snowstorm then drove to Äkäslompolo. My top tips:

    1) Book your holiday via a ski operator. We booked our one week stay via Crystal ski for a b&b in the apartments of a big hotel complex. It was £1k cheaper than booking a 5 day “Santa holiday” via TUI to stay at the same place.

    2) If doing the above, you can then book your Santa visit in the woods, husky rides, etc, etc directly with the excursions operators such as Safartica. It means you will get a better experience with a more personalised touch and the big tour operators don’t take their middle men cut!

    3) Rent a 4×4. We had an Audi Q5 for a weekend for £350 and it gave us so much freedom. We could for example go to the Snow hotel when the tour groups had all left.

  • Waribai says:

    Tip 4) We went in late December to give ourselves the best chance of seeing the Northern lights. Instead of booking an expensive Northern lights hunting tour, I just researched how to get to the nearest frozen lake (you need an open space away from buildings to view them) then downloaded the Northern lights detection app. Hey presto 11pm on Boxing Day the notification popped out that visibility chances were high. Got the family out of bed and straight down to the lake we went!

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