Gateway to the Arctic Circle and home to Santa Claus, Lapland in Finland can also boast of some fine hotels.
Most people think Santa, Rudolph and Christmas time when they think of Lapland – and you can meet the big, jolly red man in Rovaniemi, the official home of Santa Claus in Lapland. But in truth, the Arctic offers so much more than that – husky-sledding through snowy forests, cross-country skiing, ice-climbing on frozen waterfalls and views of the Northern Lights. Here’s our guide to hotels in Finnish Lapland.
Santa’s Hotel Tunturi has proven its popularity, not just because of its famous namesake. With 260 rooms, this luxurious hotel was designed by award-winning Finnish architect Kurt Moberg. Rooms range from standard doubles to five-bedroom apartments, spacious enough to fit the whole family. Head out cross-country skiing from the back door or appreciate the Nordic landscape from your snowy balcony.
Your trip to the Finnish Lapland will never be complete without visiting the Santa Claus Holiday Village. The hotel is situated in the most popular tourist destination in Rovaniemi, and is just minutes away from Santa Claus HQ. With a Scandinavian cabin feel, you can stay in the elegantly furnished suites with forest views from the terrace and a sauna in each one. A top-notch Finnish buffet breakfast is included.
For those who are dead-set on catching the Northern Lights, don’t miss the Levin Iglut. Every room has a glass ceiling, allowing you to gaze up at the starry sky at night. Central Levi is 10km (6mi) away, meaning there is less light pollution up here and more chance of a clear view. Tuck into the small sharing plates at the hotel’s restaurant, Utsu, or book the traditional Kota hut next door for a romantic meal.
Deep in the wilderness, this luxury hotel truly lives up to its namesake. Over an hour from the tourist bustle of Santa’s Village, you’ll find Nellim. Choose from a wilderness room, Arctic suite or private log cabin (with your own sauna). The Aurora cabin has a glass ceiling for gazing at the night sky. If you can tear yourself away from your suite, dine at casual buffet restaurant before a day of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
On the banks of the Kemijoki River, next to Ounasvaara Ski Resort, you’ll find Ounasvaara Chalets, a fantastic base for adventure in Lapland. The ski resort is not huge, but it is beautiful – the snow and wind combining to turn the forests and trees into an outdoor art gallery. The 73 apartments each have a sauna, and range from simple to luxury offerings. The hotel restaurant Thulia has a fireplace and serves up excellent local fish.
If you are looking for a mind blowing view of Lappish scenery, Hotel Iso-Syöte is surely the place to stay. This boutique hotel is situated right on the hilltop, and it allows you to gain a panoramic view of the snowy landscape. Aurora View rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, while the Star Superior Rooms are perfect for a family of four. Some suites even have their own fireplace. Head down to the spa after 5pm, when day visitors have left, for quiet laps of the indoor pool or book yourself a hot stone massage with aromatherapy oils.
The name’s a bit of a give away with this one, isn’t it? Surprisingly though, Santa’s Hotel Santa Claus isn’t in Santa Claus Village, it’s actually in the centre of Rovaniemi – perfect for those who want a city base, with easy access to nature and Mr Claus’ HQ. The rooms have high ceilings, and the suites all have their own sauna. The street-level Cafe & Bar Zoomit has pool tables, while the Bar & Grill ZoomUp serves fantastic Arctic salmon and whitefish tartar.
The Arctic Light Hotel stands where once there was a city hall, destroyed during World War II. Local architect Ferdinand Salokangas was tasked with building a new one in its place in 1949. When the city moved out of that building in 1988, it became a boutique hotel in the heart of Rovaniemi. It’s all high-octane and glamour these days, boasting 57 bespoke guest rooms with no expense spared.
If you want to visit Santa in style, then look no further than the Nova Skyland. It’s inside the Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi, a 200m walk to the village shops, Santa’s post office and, ahem, the office of the big man himself. Get your cameras and autograph pads at the ready. All suites have a private sauna, and the modern architecture has created hugely spacious rooms, with glass and wood combining for a modern Arctic aesthetic.
It doesn’t get much more wintry than staying in an igloo in Santa Claus Village in Lapland, does it? If you’re picturing snowy bricks for walls though, think again. These igloos are glass-walled and roofed, and have air-conditioning. There’s every chance that you’ll find yourself falling asleep beneath the Northern Lights. The beds are super cosy too, perfect for a romantic getaway or solo adventurers looking to immerse themselves in the Lapland nature.
The Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna Rovaniemi is a five-minute drive from the Ounasvaara Ski Resort, and right on the banks of the beautiful Kemijoki river. Rooms, fitted with reindeer and snowflake decor, are coloured with shades of the Northern Lights. The hotel’s restaurants mix French classics and Lapland delicacies (the fish in Lapland is particularly good). They’ve also got a commitment to sustainability, showcased by their Green Key label.
A hotel a little outside Rovaniemi, Lapland Hotels Sky Ounasvaara is tucked in amongst the snowshot trees of the forests. It’s a stunning retreat. Attention to detail is paramount – from the calming colour scheme to the warm lighting to create maximum cosiness. The on-site Sky Kitchen is great for local delicacies. Try the potato pancakes with smoked rainbow trout roe or reindeer tartare with lingonberries (sorry, Rudolph).
One look at the award-winning architecture of the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel and you know it’s a bucket list sort of place. All alone in the forests, but not far from Santa Claus Village, this place cleaned up at the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2020 – winning best regional Luxury Architecture Design hotel and finest Finnish Cuisine. This is an indulgence in warmth, comfort and glamour, it’s eco-conscious, and the rooms put you right in the centre of the stunning Lappish wild.
A modern city joint which wouldn’t look out of place in London, it’s all about modern style at Scandic Rovaniemi City hotel. It’s newly renovated, with bunk beds now available for families or luxury suites on offer for fans of the Northern Lights. In the heart of the city, the Scandic’s biggest pull is probably its position as a base from which to explore the Arctic Circle.
A family-owned hotel in the centre of Rovaniemi, Arctic City Hotel has been open since 1978. There are 90 rooms, with contemporary style, and the bubbling Monte Rosa restaurant is the perfect place to try grilled Arctic salmon, or reindeer cooked in a variety of ways. The 303 lounge bar is the place to go for a glass of wine, or it’s the Bull Bar & Grill, if you’re more of a beer, sports and board games kind of traveller.