The essence of a luxury experience is typically defined with descriptors such as “authentic” and “sense of place.” But more to the point, an extraordinary hotel experience should provide intimacy and a unique connection to an area’s history, culture, and environment. In Arctic regions, luxury hotel developers are moving beyond simply providing interesting programming. Hotels in the Scandinavian Arctic are employing out-of-the-box designs rooted in regional traditions to create singular experiences for upscale visitors. Here are five of the most innovative properties right now.
Treehotel (Harads, Sweden)
Built in 2010 by hospitality entrepreneurs Kent and Britta Lindvall, this complex in the woods of Harads, Sweden—about 31 miles south of the Arctic Circle—comprises seven guest suites nestled into the treetops. No room is like the other; each one was designed by a different Scandinavian architectural firm. Bearing names such as the Bird’s Nest, the UFO, and the Mirrorcube, the striking suites immerse guests into the environment in different ways. The hotel also includes a sauna and a restaurant serving upscale Scandinavian fare. While at Treehotel, guests can enjoy activities such as hiking through the taiga forest, moose safaris, ice fishing, and, of course, the Northern Lights.
Rates for the suites start at around $500 per night, +46.0.928.103.00, treehotel.se
Wolf Lodge (Bardu, Norway)
This exclusive resort inside the Polar Park wildlife sanctuary puts guests in close contact with wolves. With three oversized suites, this split-level lodge is encircled with “socialized” wolves that are cared for by the property’s animal keeper. All rooms are on the ground floor and feature floor-to-ceiling windows, ensuring that you watch—or are watched by—the park’s canines. A stay at the Wolf Lodge includes transportation to and from the lodge, meals prepared by a private chef, activities such as dog-sledding, snow shoeing, and a face-to-face encounter with the wolves, culminating with a “wolf kiss.”
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort (Saariselkä, Finland)
Just outside of Urho Kekkonen National Park in the Finnish Lapland, this family-run resort features nearly every type of dwelling from the Arctic region. Guests may choose from traditional log cabins and chalets, glass igloos—to comfortably watch the aurora borealis from indoors—and even snow igloos. While the latter have no historical connection to Lapland, their broader link in the popular consciousness to polar regions makes staying in them a uniquely interesting experience. The resort serves as a good base to explore the surrounding areas and indulge in activities such as fishing for trout or Arctic char, hiking with huskies, and cross-country skiing. The resort also has a large art gallery exhibiting works by Lapland artists
Rates start at around $300 per night, +358.16.667100, kakslauttanen.fi
Arctic Baths (Harads, Sweden)
In partnership with Treehotel, this upcoming property in Harads seeks to turn the sleepy 600-person village into a destination of sorts for edgy Scandinavian luxury and wellness. Opening in 2019, the Arctic Baths hotel, designed by Swedish architects Bertil Harström and Johan Kauppi, will float on the Lule River in the summer; come winter, when the river freezes, it will sit on the ice. The root of this concept is the area’s historical connection with the timber industry, when logs would be transported down the river. The hotel’s main building resembles the floating logjam that would sometimes occur. The circular structure features various types of saunas and a gourmet 24-seat restaurant; at its center, the building has a cold bath. Guests will stay in six wood cabins nearby.
Rates set to start at around $700 per night, arcticbath.se
Svart (Svartisen, Norway)
Located at the foot of the Almlifjellet mountain on the shore of Holandsfjorden fjord, Svart is set to be one of the most sustainable hotels north of the Arctic Circle. Still in development by real estate company MIRIS, the project aims to produce more renewable energy than it consumes: locally sourced wood and stone will compose the structure; features such as shaded terraces will eliminate the need for cooling systems in the summer; 51,000 square feet of solar panels on the roof will harness extensive solar power from the long, sunlit summer nights; underground geothermal energy will heat the hotel in the winter. Even the circular design by architecture firm Snøhetta was determined to be optimal for energy harvesting. The hotel, which will only be accessible by boat, will also provide direct access to the dark-blue Svartisen glacier and a number of nature-oriented activities such as biking and kayaking. It is scheduled to open in 2021.
Rates to be announced, svart.no