Located in Harads, Sweden, Treehotel, is a exclusive seven room property, located in a village of just 600 people. This family owned hotel is set within the treetops of a picturesque valley overlooking the Lule River. The hotel’s owners Britta and Kent Lindvall have been involved with every step of the process since Treehotel began as a mere idea. Today they welcome each and every guest to their unique property.
Each room or treehouse has been designed by different leading Scandinavian architects and are uniquely different from one another. The rooms range from a mirrored cube reflecting the surrounding forest, to a giant Bird’s nest. Most of the rooms are accessible by retractable stairs or bridges. Despite being suspended in the trees, one of the treerooms is even wheelchair accessible. Each room has been designed to be as eco-friendly as possible with combustion toilets, hydroelectric heating and chemical free wood floors.
Treehotel is located about an hour from Lulea, on the Bothnian Coast. Like Stockholm, the actual town of Luleå is located on an archipelago, boasting some of the most amazing wildlife viewing in the region. In the area is also one of Sweden’s UNESCO world-heritage sites, Gammelstad. Gammelstad is known for it’s medieval church and innumerable wooden cottages that dot the surrounding countryside. Located about three hours away from the famous Icehotel, it is possible to do a day trip to visit Sweden’s most iconic hotel.
Like many of the hotels north of the Arctic Circle, Treehotel is open year-round with unique activities offered in both the summer and winter months. During the summer, guests can enjoy horse riding, hiking, white water rafting, moose safaris and visits with the forest Sami. In the wintertime, guests can choose to participate in dog sled tours, horse-pulled skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and of course, northern light tours, just to name a few. One of Britta and Kent’s personal favorites, is a walking tour of the local village, where guests have the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the locals over a cup of coffee. Offering a wide variety of both summer and winter activities, Treehotel is the perfect spot to destress and connect with nature.
As far as which part of Arctic Europe is best to visit for Northern Lights, there is a fairly equal opportunity across all three countries for optimum viewing. That being said, the city of Abisko in Swedish Lapland is arguably the most promising. The Northern Lights appear in Abisko an average of 159 nights per year, which is more than anywhere else in the region. It is located within a polar desert and thus prone to clear skies, and sits nearly 200 kilometers above the Arctic Circle, creating ideal viewing conditions for the Northern Lights.
Hotel Fjallet is our favorite in Abisko, just 55 miles from Kiruna airport and is the closest to the national park. The hotel truly sits on the frontier of one of Europe’s last true wildernesses. They offer comfortable cabin/chalet style accommodation with lovely views. The hotel also boasts a number of winter activities ranging from hiking, dog sledding and, of course, Northern Light safaris. Between the unique microclimate and the almost nonexistent light pollution, the area around Hotel Fjallet is primed for Norhtern Lights viewing.
For those looking to incorporate skiing into their vacation, this property is also ski-in/ski-out. For those feeling particularly intrepid, it is also possible to visit Kappasjakka Cave, Sweden’s longest cave system, which is located nearby.
This four-star hotel is positioned about half way up the mountain, overlooking Lake Tornetrask and an ideal spot for exploring the national park. With just 46 rooms, the hotel is decorated in a traditional Scandinavian design. After a day of exploring, guests can come back to a traditional Swedish sauna before dining in Hotel Fjallet’s renown restaurant. Its restaurant is open every day and specializes in regional cuisine made with local ingredients. Restaurant Lapporten incorporates Norwegian, Swedish and Lappish cuisine. The hotel has been recently renovated but still maintains it’s ski-chalet style. They offer rooms to easily accommodate couples, as well as families in larger rooms.
From Hotel Fjallet and Abisko, it is possible to visit the Icehotel as a day trip or Narvik across the Norwegian border.
Camp Ripan is a wonderful family owned hotel near the town of Kiruna in Swedish Lapland. Built in 2002, the hotel is a year-round destination, showcasing the best food and activities of the season and the region. With its unique geographic location, the hotel designers have pulled on influences from Swedish, Sami and Torne Valley Finish cultures to influence the design and look of the hotel. The hotel is a perfect balance of modern and contemporary luxury, while still incorporating a strong sense of place the cuisine and décor. Camp Ripan has over 80 rooms in three buildings, some of which are more mini apartments than hotel rooms with mini-kitchens.
Camp Ripan places great pride in the culinary experiences incorporating traditional Swedish and Sami dishes, as well as, dishes inspired by the Northern Lights. All incorporate local produce and have a story to tell. Camp Ripan also boasts the lovely and renown Aurora Spa, where guests can retreat to after spending full days out exploring the surroundings. Like the culinary experiences, the spa also includes products based on ancient Sami and Finnish methodology and techniques. The spa boasts both indoor and outdoor pools, as well as, a spacious sauna experience.
The hotel also offers a number of unique excursions such as Moose Safaris, driving reindeer sleds and visits to local Sami camps. From musher schools to walking in the footsteps of the Sami, there are activities for guests of all ages. Camp Ripan also boasts a unique hands-on culinary adventure inspired either by the Sami or Northern Lights. The experience weaves together the tastes and colors of these two uniquely Lappish entities. The nearby town of Kiruna also offers a unique history, which can be explored on one of Camp Ripan’s city tours. Despite being just over 120 years old, the city was to be the “most modern city in the word.” Due to the expanding mining industry in the area, the city and more specifically it’s important historical buildings, are in the in the process of being moved to the base of the nearby Luossavaara mountain.
The hotel is perfectly positioned for northern lights viewing with safaris readily available. Like any destination in Arctic Europe, we recommend spending three to four nights at Camp Ripan to take advantage of the numerous activities available, as well as, have the best chance of seeing the northern lights.
Perhaps the most iconic hotel in Swedish Lapland is the famed Ice Hotel. As the world’s first ice hotel, the entire property is also an art exhibition with more than 40 artists joining together annually to rebuild the hotel. Situated about 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the hotel offers a luxury experience in one of the most remote and untouched wildernesses on the planet.
Icehotel has a combination of warm and cold rooms, which most guests take advantage of during their stay. The cold rooms hold a consistent temperature of 18-25F. There are two restaurants on property that showcase traditional dishes, with a contemporary twist. For guests not staying at Icehotel, it is possible to visit during the day, as a day guest.
The newest addition to the Icehotel complex, is Icehotel 365, which opened in 2016. While the traditional hotel is open from November to March, Icehotel 365 allows guests visiting at any time of the year to marvel at its construction. Like the original Icehotel, Icehotel 365 is also comprised of a number of suites (including saunas) and rooms. Icehotel 365 also has its own ice bar and ice gallery, displaying ice sculpture from some of the artists who help to rebuild the original Icehotel annually.
After reveling in the hotel’s astonishing construction from its Art Suites to Ice Church, guests and visitors have the chance to try ice sculpting for themselves! The hotel features a number of wonderful winter activities including Stand Up Paddle Boarding on the Torne River, Cross Country Skiing, Wilderness Survival courses, plus dog sledding and snowmobiling, just to name a few!
While the aurora borealis is visible from October to March, we recommend visiting between December and March when the snow pack is at it’s peak. Icehotel offers Northern Lights tours taking guests out into the wilderness, as far away from light pollution, as possible. Given it’s prime position in Swedish Lapland, it is possible to venture to Abisko National Park on a Northern Lights Safari. With predictably clear skies and almost no light pollution, Abisko is really one of the best places for photographing the natural phenomenon, as well as, for landscape photography. Icehotel offers excursions at all times of the day up to Abisko for aspiring photographers.