Arctic Escapes: Exploring the World’s Coolest Getaways
During the long winter months, folks tend to plan their holidays around sunny skies, sandy beaches and all-inclusive tropical drinks – and while these can make for great trips, warm-weather vacations can sometimes become a bit repetitive. You know the drill: The buffet meals, the in-room towels shaped as various animals, the morning rush for the best beachside seats …
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So for 2015, why not try something a tad different and just embrace the cold by having a true Arctic accommodation experience? From Greenland (home to one of the world’s most northerly hotels) to Finland’s Lapland (where cosy glass igloos await), there are plenty of chilly good times to be had:
Alyeska Resort (Alaska, USA)
One of the state’s top-rated hotels, the stately Alyeska Resort is every snow bunny’s dream. Located 40 miles outside of Anchorage, the property is surrounded by lush forest and towering mountain peaks, the latter of which provide premier skiing with an average annual snow fall of 650 inches. Besides skiing, other winter activities at the retreat include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding tours, and helicopter expeditions.
Hotel Arctic (Greenland)
Thanks to its one-of-a-kind setting at the mouth of an ice fjord, this cheerful guest house has hosted a slew of well-known actors, musicians, politicians, and royalty over the years. There are a number of distinctive rooms and suites to choose from, but our favourites are the Umiaq Suite (which boasts amazing waterfront and iceberg views) and the igloo accommodation (a two-person cabin with an aluminium exterior).
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel (Norway)
Carved entirely out of ice, this exceptional hotel looks like something straight out of Disney’s Frozen. Celebrating its 16th anniversary this winter, Sorrisniva has a short lifespan; opening in January, it will welcome a limited number of guests before melting away in the spring. Though the temperature inside must be kept consistently frosty, reindeer hides, and sleeping bags are available to help keep visitors snug at night (though thermal underwear is also highly recommended).
Blachford Lake Lodge (Northwest Territories, Canada)
Made world-famous by housing Prince William and Kate Middleton during their Canadian tour, the Blachford Lake Lodge is a rugged, picturesque hideaway that is only accessible by bush plane. Guests can choose to stay in the main lodge or, for a truly Canadian pioneer experience, in one of five charming log cabins complete with (frozen) lake views, outside camp fire pits and woodstoves for heat. While exploring the grounds, visitors can expect to stumble upon a variety of wildlife ranging from moose to snowy owls.
Hotel Kakslauttanen (Finland)
While the various log cabin accommodations at Hotel Kakslauttanen are all amazing, it’s the property’s distinct glass igloos that have really put it on the map as an Arctic hot spot. In these toasty little units, guests can observe the stars and Northern Lights from the comfort of their own beds. Of course, a visit to Santa’s home, which is also located on the grounds, is equally pretty cool (pun intended) – visitors can even meet the jolly man himself, provided they call ahead and make an appointment.
Ion Hotel (Iceland)
Set amidst a stunning backdrop of mountainous lava fields about an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, the Ion Hotel is a great base for exploring Iceland’s unique environment. With the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir National Park nearby, the luxury property provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures ranging from a glacier tour to a dip in local hot springs. And with its floor-to-ceiling windows, the hotel is also the ideal place for taking in the Northern Lights.
Lyngen Lodge (Norway)
Located high above the Arctic Circle, Lyngen Lodge is an intimate refuge that houses a maximum of 18 guests. No matter how frigid the weather, visitors will stay warm thanks to geothermic heating, a sauna, an outdoor Jacuzzi and a large open fireplace in the main lounge. A winter sea safari on the lodge’s boat, the Spirit of Lyngen, is a must – the excursion includes a stop at a historic fishing village, deep-sea fishing and a tour of the spectacular glacier-fed Strupen Bay.