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  • Cat 125 posts

    Hi all, I did promise to report back after my trip to Svalbard, for those that have an adventurous streak and don’t mind the cold.

    Last year, when Rob posted about the ability to transfer Radisson points to Choice Privileges, I had a look through the list of hotels this opened up in N Europe, and after a few Google searches, became very excited when I saw one of the hotels (Funken Lodge) was on Svalbard island. I’ve wanted to visit there ever since reading Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy, even more so since developing an interest in wildlife photography.

    I duly swapped my points across, booked flights with SAS, and then set a reminder to book the nights when they became available 100 days before this half term.

    My best friend and I spent 3 nights in Funken Lodge – the base level room was cosy, had wonderful snowy mountain views, and great water pressure in the shower.

    No kettle separate from the coffee machine though (hotels frequently lose points for this).

    The breakfast spread was spectacular, the views from the restaurant were glorious (down over the town, spread out in front of Adventfjorden, with a backdrop of yet more snowy peaks), and the cocktails at the bar were delightful. Unfortunately, the sauna was out of action for the duration of our visit, which to me is a biggie, given how bone-chillingly, unbelievably cold it is there!

    At 78*N of the equator, Funken Lodge is one of the most Northerly hotels in the world that is available to be booked on points. There are other hotels North of Funken Lodge – for example the North Pole Igloo Hotel, available for a mere $105,000 for a 3 night stay, or ironically the Radisson Blu Polar hotel, whose reward scheme account I emptied last year in order to do this trip, and whose hotel is about 1km NNE of Funken Lodge. I would argue the Funken Lodge is the Northernmost hotel you’d *want* to stay in on points, given the choice (as long as the sauna is working, that is).

    Em and I spent our time in Longyearbyen mostly exploring the fjords in boats of varying sizes. I’d say that the absolute stand out tours we did were the Wildlife and Glacier cruise aboard a huge electric catamaran with Hurtigruten Svalbard, and a small group puffin safari with the same company. Altogether we saw an arctic fox, a minke whale, a ringed seal, numerous walruses, Svalbard reindeer and many, many species of bird. It was wonderful!

    On our last morning we had a few hours with no boat trips booked, so we paid Svalbard’s hottest new attraction a visit – SvalBad, a floating sauna right by the water’s edge (to make up for the lack of a functioning sauna at the hotel – can you tell that I was unhappy about this?), so that you can quickly dip into the Arctic sea, and then run back inside (while shrieking, obviously).

    The water was apparently -0.8°C this morning. I can well believe it. We went in 4 times each, and I managed to go in up to my shoulders the last two times!

    It was not warm.

    Feel free to ask questions, and I’ll attempt to check back in to answer them!

    Cat 125 posts

    Oh, and for anyone wondering, no civil wars erupted, and no coups were attempted for the duration of our trip.

    Skywalker 746 posts

    Sounds like a really cool trip @Cat – (no pun intended!) thanks for sharing this 🙂 🙂

    NorthernLass 8,220 posts

    Great to know you had a stress-free trip, @Cat, even though I agree the lack of sauna would have been a disappointment. I also think of Philip Pullman when I see the place name, though OH would witter on about it being the most northerly battleground of WW2 or something 😂.

    Have you got another epic voyage planned for the summer – is it SEA or am I imagining that? (Could be imagining as my student niece is going backpacking there in August)

    can2 571 posts

    Added it to my bucket list!

    Cat 125 posts

    @NorthernLass this summer will be Singapore, island hopping around Indonesia, then Hong Kong – I can’t wait! Where is the niece planning to go?

    Glad you enjoyed it @Skywalker and @can2!

    NorthernLass 8,220 posts

    Well they’re flying to Hanoi (on QR, good taste!) but I’m not sure what the plan is from there!

    I’ll try & find out as I may be able to get them a couple of nights on points somewhere decent as a break from the hostels!

    Super Secret Stuff 364 posts

    Sounds amazing thank you for the report!

    slonik 6 posts

    Sounds great. Do you have any tips on how to get there? Google suggests flights via Oslo, which seem both long and expensive for 3 nights.

    Cat 125 posts

    Best present ever @NorthernLass – a break from grubby backpacking digs, esp if someone else is paying, so it doesn’t mess up your budget! They’ll love it!

    Glad you enjoyed it @SuperSecretStuff!

    go via Oslo with SAS, but book in advance, or during sales to make it cheaper. It does require a bit of a leap of faith, if booking on CP points, due to the hundred days rule. I think there’s a Paris to Svalbard flight too. Don’t fly back before an important day, and I recommend not booking any tours for your first morning, in case flights are delayed due to weather. It’s long, but if you book at the right time, not that bad. Also – note there are no lounges in Oslo, except for airline lounges, so if youre particular about lounge access, fly business (or pay SAS for their lounge access), as the priority pass is no use there

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