Aside from the winter regulars like Jukkasjärvi’s ICEHOTEL (Sweden) and Kirkenes’ SnowHotel (Norway), there are some pretty fancy places out there waiting to be found.
Check out our personal list of go-to unforgettable hotels to visit in Scandinavia and Iceland below!
Established in 1882, Sweden’s first sanctuary mountain resort is an attractive mix of 8 different seasons ( ‘Frosty Winter’, ‘Crusty Snow’, ‘Departure of Ice’, ‘Eternal Sun’, ‘Harvest Season’, ‘Colorful Autumn’, ‘Black Snow’, and ‘Yuletide’), locally sourced cuisine, an international award-winning spa, and awe-inspiring nature with more than 60 surrounding mountain peaks.
The renowned first fjord hotel in Norway (1877) is getting a small facelift over the next few years, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in the ‘Best Historic Hotel of Europe by the Water’ (2014) and experience incredible views of the Sognefjord, marvel at the distinct ‘Swiss’ style architecture, hike through the mountains nearby, and crush on the hotel’s vintage car collection.
An intimate, designer experience hovers right on the waters of Brosundet in Ålesund—47 rooms, complete with a private ‘penthouse suite’: a 150-year-old lighthouse about a 5 minutes’ walk from the hotel. Ålesund’s Art Nouveau architecture and charming small-town, boutique feel surprise and delight in both summer and winter, but with its exceptional restaurant and incredible design (the same architecture firm designed the Norwegian Opera and Ballet in Oslo, as well as the Ground Zero Pavilion in NYC), Hotel Brosundet might just steal the show.
One word: palatial. Located directly on Nevsky Prospect—on which some of the city’s most memorable cultural sites, like the Winter Palace and the Peter & Paul Fortress, roost within walking distance—and constructed from three 19th-century buildings, Corinthia’s majestic façade, staircases, and luxurious city-central location are sure to please.
Finnish Lapland is best known for its exotic wintertime views, plethora of fun snowbound activities, and a beautiful snow-and-ice structure containing furniture made from the same. The Arctic SnowHotel also features an Icerestaurant, snow sauna (who knew?), 15 glass igloos, and optional ‘Aurora alarm’ service free of charge for its guests.
C’mon—who doesn’t want to stay in a castle? This stunning 5-star Danish gem located within a sprawling golf course and forest isn’t the only one in the area: it’s nestled in the countryside near Frederiksborg Castle, Fredensborg Palace (countryseat of the Queen of Denmark), Kronborg Castle (fictional home to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and a host of manor museums. Helicopter tours of the area, golf, and the sizzling vibe of nearby Rungsted Harbor are all on the menu!
This might look like the middle of nowhere (and it’s close to that), but it’s not too far from some of the countryside’s most culturally-rich heritage sites and natural wonders: Iceland’s popular Golden Circle Tour (Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Geysir hot spring area), the capital of Reykjavik, and frequent appearances of the Northern Lights. Still, you might want to just relax and enjoy the luxury accommodations, award-winning bar, the Lava Spa, and the simple, ‘slow food’ concept of Silfra Restaurant.
Eight full months of Northern Lights viewing, clear glass igloos, and lots of snow activities? This is winter vacation heaven! The indigenous Sámi have been in this area for centuries, and there are plenty of cultural and active experiences to be had nearby—husky safaris, reindeer farm tours, and cross country skiing among them. And a five-minute drive away? Santa’s Home, a fully-realized winter village complete with Santa himself.
The very first landscape hotel in Norway boasts 7 cube-on-stilts rooms, each with panoramic views of the flush Norwegian countryside into which they’ve been meticulously built. The floor-to-ceiling windows reflect the colors of every season and keep things indoors fairly private, and the exterior of each cube blends perfectly with the wooded surroundings. Spa-like in its simplicity, each room near a stream leading to the Valldøla River breathes a unique mixture of relaxation and tranquility.
Last, but not least: this funky collection of suites are suspended high atop the Swedish forest and near the Lule River, soaking up views of the Midnight Sun in summer and the Northern Lights in winter. Room names (and styles) cover the gamut of the fantastic and ordinary: The Cabin, The Mirrorcube, The Bird’s Nest, The Blue Cone, The UFO, The Tree Sauna, and Dragonfly. Activities in this area are just as fantastic—dog sledding, snowshoeing in search of the Northern Lights, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and more!