Should we stay at the Arctic Snow Hotel, Rovaniemi, Finland?
When researching our trip to Lapland, Finland, the question of whether we would stay at the Arctic Snow Hotel, or not, never came up! We had always planned to experience the overnight arctic blast by staying in the snow hotel in Rovaniemi, Finland. As well, of course, as dining in at the Ice Restaurant and throwing an empty glass at the wall in the Ice Bar and finding a hill to sled on!!
The Arctic Snow Hotel
Seeing the Arctic Snow Hotel in real life provides great appreciation for the tremendous amount of work and artistic detail required for the construction of this seasonal attraction.
Built at the beginning of the winter season, the hotel itself is constructed by twenty five workers over a three week period. Inflatable moulds are used and man made snow is compacted firmly to create the shape of the building. Once the shape and depth of snow is as required, the moulds are removed, ready for installation of the ice sculptures.
The ice sculptures are created during the Summer months and kept in an enormous freezer storage building, in preparation for the upcoming hotel season.
Every room in the hotel has different artwork which includes sculptures and carving on the walls. It truly is most impressive.
Within the Arctic Snow Hotel, there are twenty bedrooms, the Ice Restaurant, Ice Bar and a Chapel.
The hotel (as an attraction) is exceptional, as you can see in the video. The ice sculptures are unbelievable, as is the actual construction. I would highly recommend visiting the hotel.
We ate at Kota Restaurant for lunch and the food was delicious! The salmon was cooked over the fire in the centre of the restaurant. It was great, most definitely our favourite location for a meal during our stay at the Arctic Snow Hotel.
For dinner we ate at the Ice Restaurant. While the food was delicious, it was pricey and very much production-like. Dessert served on a plate made of ice and shaped in a snowflake was the highlight, this was particularly impressive! It was very cold sitting in there and therefore it wasn’t the type of restaurant you would sit and enjoy a slow paced relaxing meal. We thought it was overpriced for the whole experience.
The Ice Bar
We had a drink from an ice glass in the Ice Bar, then threw our glasses at the wall. This was very fun and I would definitely recommend doing this if you are there during open hours. With a few people in there and music on, it does have a good vibe.
The Sky Bar
The Sky Bar (next to Kota Restaurant) was a welcome haven for some warmth either side of dinner. On a clear night it is said that you can see the Northern Lights from upstairs. We weren’t so lucky but it was a great place to hang out with board games to play while sipping on a drink.
Staying at the Arctic Snow Hotel
Staying at the hotel was absolutely an experience and a great novelty. Our boys (9 and 10) loved everything about it! The ice hotel itself, throwing ice glasses against the wall, the sculptures and carvings as well as the outdoor extra curriculars!
As mentioned earlier, each room had its own sculpture or ice carving on the wall. Our room was ‘fantasy’ themed. There were two large beds that would have slept three each. When we were assigned our rooms we were given instructions not to leave anything in our room as it would freeze and it was requested that we leave our ‘door’ (curtain) open for visitors to be able to go into the room when we were not in there. We obliged but this was a little surprising. The entire hotel sat at minus five degrees celsius so it wasn’t really the kind of place we wanted to hang out.
After dinner, we gathered our sleeping bags, sleeping bag inserts and pillows and made our way into our hotel room. Wearing pj’s, snow jackets and snow boots we trundled in and set up camp. We managed to set up the CPAP machine in the room, fortunately, as there was power to the room. We were instructed to stuff our jackets, drink bottles and any other belongings into our sleeping bags (we had our phones) so that they didn’t freeze. We obliged but it made for a very squishy sleeping bag experience, especially for the adults! In fact, I found this quite uncomfortable, but there wasn’t really another option as I needed to have my jacket unfrozen to wear if I needed to get up throughout the night, or in the morning.
Fortunately, Geoff and the boys all slept really well overnight and were toasty warm.
Unfortunately, I was unwell with a chesty/flu type thing so struggled to sleep in our sub zero Snow Hotel room, so opted for the hotels ‘warm area’. The ‘warm area‘ (as advertised on the website) was not exactly what I was expecting (certainly at the price we paid to stay there) and therefore had a very average night sleep. Obviously sleeping in the ‘warm area’ was not my (or anyone’s, I would think) plan but if you need to use it due to illness or other reasons (which I did), it’s actually a dreadful set up and far from an acceptable option for guests who have paid that much for their night.
The ‘warm area’ was actually the locker room where guests left all of their bags and belongings, in lockers. On one side of the shipping container, there was a wall of lockers and on the other there was a wall of bunks. The room was warm/hot and the lights were on all night so that people could come and go as they needed to, making it incredibly difficult to sleep! On top of that, there were not enough beds for everyone to needed to take up this option. I was sleeping head to head with someone who had been vomiting earlier in the night, I had someone pull my sleeping bag off me through the night thinking the bed was spare and was going to get into my bed and then I woke to people having to sleep on the floor because there were no beds available for them. Given the amount of money all of those guests paid for the night, it was incredibly disappointing. As mentioned, the boys had a great time but I was far from impressed with my experience and woke up feeling dreadful.
So, if I had my time again, would we do it differently? I don’t think we would stay there! The boys did love it and they were pretty chuffed with their certificate to say they slept in Arctic conditions, but for the amount of money you pay for a night and the risk you take in being able to sleep in the rooms, I’m not sure I would recommend it.
Visiting Rovaniemi and the Arctic Snow Hotel, what would I recommend?
Visit the Arctic Snow Hotel, enjoy marvelling at the incredible art work and labour that has goes into establishing the structure every year. Take a tour from Rovaniemi and have a drink at the Ice Bar. Take a tour that includes dining at Kota Restaurant and have a drink in the Sky Bar. Take a sled and slide down the hill onto the frozen lake!
The Arctic Snow Hotel is well worth a visit, definitely make the time to go there. In fact, a visit to Rovaniemi without going to the Arctic Snow Hotel, may be somewhat incomplete. Perhaps you could stay in a glass igloo there instead of the hotel…I heard great things about other travellers’ stays in the igloos.
As always, in our blog, we provide real and honest reviews based on our own personal experience.
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