They say “The surest way to make your dreams come true is to live them”. I finally knew what that meant. We all know that travel gives you the best experience in life but to actually be there and do something unimaginable is another story. I want to share a similar experience, a moment that was so magical and unreal. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is everyones dream transmuted to reality, it was mine too. If you have been even partly active on social media you must have come across the image below and thought to yourself, this looks so good wonder if its real!? Who goes there anyway! Well that’s exactly the same thought I had a few years ago and now I can’t believe that a place like this exists and I have actually stayed in one of these glass igloos. I need to repeatedly pinch myself to believe this.
Imagine a place where there are a zillion stars over your head, as if some constellations have just been born to grace your crown, where there is just the richness of forest and the mystical hum of the night falling quietly over the land of glass igloos. Where sleep eavesdrops on your dreams and where jaws drop when the northern lights pierce the sky like shards of heaven. In simple words this peace of paradise is just where the simple becomes surreal.
They say Jussi found this arctic paradise during one of his fishing trips in Finland when he ran out of fuel and was stuck in Kakslauttanen. What started as a little chalet and then a café is now one of the most exotic locations in the world. For those don’t know this is the best igloo hotel in the world.
This stunning property is tucked away in the north of Finland. Located 10 kilometres away from Saariselka, about three hours away from Rovaniemi (the heart of Lapland) and 250km north of the Arctic Circle is this Arctic Resort this is right in the middle of the wilderness along the road of the Arctic Sea.
To get here you have to first fly into Helsinki, the largest city and capital of Finland.
-If you’re coming from Helsinki : Take a flight or an overnight train to Ivalo. The flight is easier and the quickest way to reach (1hr 30mins). The resort is 50 mins away from Ivalo and the hotel offers a pick up from the airport.
– If you’re coming from Ivalo then you can either take a bus to Saariselka, a cab to the hotel or request the hotel for a pick up. A cab is the best option.
-If you’re coming from Rovaniemi: The best option is to take a bus. This three-hour bus journey is so stunning and extremely comfortable. You can buy your tickets online and even reserve the seat in advance. The bus is always on time and also stops in the middle for a break and they will drop you off right at the hotel entrance. You can book your tickets here: https://www.matkahuolto.info/lippu/en/
– If you are driving, just type this address in your navigator: Kiilopääntie 9, Saariselkä, Finland. Once you are there, you can’t miss it. They offer free parking places next to all the cabins and there is plenty space for cars also in front of their restaurant building.
After spending three nights in Rovaniemi, we opted for the picturesque bus journey and it was definitely the most beautiful drive ever!
Every time I think of this property I envision snowy landscapes, cozy heated igloos, an arctic forest, dreamy panoramas and a sky flashing with the lights. Kakslauttanen is divided into two villages, the East and the West. Both these villages have their exceptional set of glass igloos, wooden cabins, restaurants and a reception. We stayed in the West Village and loved it.
Once the bus dropped us at the gate of the East Village my heart started racing and so did my feet. I entered the property and tried looking for igloos, but of course good things take a while. We headed towards the main reception area and were told to wait as the car from the West Village would come to pick us up. In ten minutes we were dropped off at the reception of our village.
Both the villages have the glass igloos and cabins but are a little different from each other. For example the queen suites are in the east village while the west has an igloo bar and kelo glass igloos but of course you can tour the entire property and even go for a meal in the other village restaurant. The West Village had a reception area and a restaurant, an igloo bar, traditional log cabins, a spa and shower reception, glass igloos, kelo igloos( glass igloos attached to a log cabin) and smoke saunas. The property also has a set of snow igloos, something that I would love to try next time. Also if you’re looking at an intimate romantic wedding then you could also get married in the Ice Chapel here. I honestly preferred the West over the East, the restaurant was better and that igloo bar was so stunning.
My Room: The Glass Igloo
After the check in along with our room key we were given a map with our igloo marked on it and were told to go find it. It was like an adventure from the moment we stepped in. Thrilled as I could be I pushed my luggage on a sleigh while the husband looked for the igloo on the map. The igloos are arranged in 4 to 5 rows with each row having about eight igloos. Luckily our igloo was in the first of the many rows. We started walking towards igloo number 8 and on the way I was happily peeking into the others. My heart couldn’t stop racing as my dream was finally coming true. I can’t explain that moment in words when we were standing outside our very own glass igloo, I almost did my own version of a happy dance.
Once you open the tiny door you step into an unreal world. What would you exchange to fall asleep to a view of the dazed forest standing tall and the sky hanging so low, like maybe it was your own personal garden to pluck magic from? Well, I would give away the world. Under the glass igloo is a recliner bed, an area to keep your luggage a washroom and a snowy landscape outside, well isn’t that all you need! The bed reclines perfectly well to ensure that you enjoy natures most beautiful show in the best form. The igloo was way more comfortable than I thought, its temperature controlled so you never have to worry about freezing inside.We could see the hustle and bustle outside clearly.
So those who are worried about their privacy you can totally relax as nobody can even come around your igloo and peep inside. The igloos are partly covered in snow except for the entrance so there is no way one can climb up and enter the area. There are curtains inside the igloo that are only a few inches long, which is enough to cover up when you’re lying down. But you definitely might want to keep in mind that you shouldn’t change your clothes with the lights on.
The igloo is built out of thermal glass and designed to stay frost free, so even if it snows nothing will block your view. There is a common shower area very close to the reception. Since the resort was running full we were lucky enough to get a booking for a night in the glass igloo. If we could, we would have definitely spent two nights here.
How I spent my day:
While planning the trip we ensured that we keep all the activities like husky rides, reindeer rides, snowmobile etc for the other towns like Ivalo and Rovaniemi as we really did not want to step out of this exotic property. So we spent our day taking long walks in the snow laden landscape, exploring the other side of the village, sliding down slopes, dancing around the igloo and playing in the snow.
All the rooms come with a half board option which include breakfast and dinner. You definitely cannot expect a great variety or five star quality food. The breakfast options were limited to cereal, fruits, bread and boiled eggs. For lunch they only had a veg and chicken soup along with bread which could be purchased for 12 Euros. For dinner it was a three course set menu. We were lucky that all the three courses were suitable to our tastebuds and we found it quite delicious. That night they served us a lip smacking cheese soup, a steak and a delicious dessert of fruits and cream. The last table reservation is at 7pm and by 9pm the place is dark and silent. So if you’re a night bird like me and love munching make sure to stock up your room with chips, chocolates and cup noodles. Since I stayed in the west village I had access to the glass igloo bar which was a great place to sip a drink at night and watch the lights in action.
A Night in an Igloo:
At night they turn of the lights to reduce the glare and give people the best view of the arctic sky. With Vodka in one hand we used our sleighs as chairs and sat in the dark with our sight stuck to the sky. It was like camping under the stars.
It’s the country of Northern Lights but the lights are always playing around. Even the sight of an orange cloud which was a reflection of the city lights would excite me. I started taking pictures with my camera hoping that the lights would show up on the screen first. Even the slightest colour would make my heart race.
After waiting for an hour we started to freeze and decided to lie down and watch the lights from the igloo. I can’t explain that feeling of lying under the stars in the middle of the Arctic Wilderness in a cozy warm igloo. Since our room was the last one in the row, on one side we could see the beautiful forest and on the other side tons of igloos and a bright sky above us. It was so surreal, I’ve never felt so alive and thrilled. We spent two hours talking and gazing at the sky and hoping for the magical show to start. We spent the night counting stars and just fell asleep. Alas! The lights didn’t show up that night but it was the most peaceful sleep I got in a while. I woke up at 7am when it started to get bright outside. With a heart full of gratitude and the biggest smile on the face I cuddled up in my blanket and slept again.
Amenities and Activities:
The resort had tons of activities like northern light safaris, reindeer safaris, husky rides, snowmobile, icefishing, skiing, a trip to the santa village etc. Like I mentioned above, since we were spending only one night I preferred staying the resort exploring the place and waiting for the enchanting Northern Lights to burst open the sky with their beauty and magic. I would recommend doing the same as this experience is a once in a lifetime. You can always do these activities in Rovaniemi and Ivalo just like I did. Infact its way cheaper and much better there. The resort is also home to one of the largest smoke sauna, make sure to try it out.
What I loved:
– The unique wilderness experience.
– The whole journey was so smooth and easy. The resort is very easy to locate.
– Being disconnected from the outside world was the best thing ever.
-Do not expect it to be a luxury resort. You are paying a price for a unique resort in the wilderness and it’s best if this experience is not compared to a five star hotel.
-There is no supermarket or any store around. You have to drive down to Ivalo to avail of these services so make sure you are fully stocked up.
-There is no wifi or phone in the igloo but you do get complimentary wifi at the main reception. I was very happy to disconnect from the outside world.
-The igloos do not have showers. There is a separate spa and shower reception which open for 24 hours.
-It’s more like a self service kind of place but totally worth it
-Definitely not suitable for guests with disabilities.
-It seemed child friendly ( I wouldn’t know much) but I saw a few kids and they seemed to have fun rolling in the snow.
-The check in is at 3pm and check out at 10am. The timings are way too odd compared to other hotels but there’s nothing you can do. We arrived at 12 noon and had to wait for three hours to get our room, the staff will not give the room even a minute before 3pm. So we explored the property and had lunch in the meanwhile.
-Request for an igloo in the first or second row
-Since you have to carry your own luggage on a sleigh I suggest pack light and pack the right clothes so you don’t freeze. Check my ultimate packing guide here Packing List
-Get a local SIM card for contacting in case of emergency. There is no phone in the igloo.
-Make sure to pack appropriate clothing so that you enjoy the weather. Read my article for more details..
-If you’re staying in the West Village you can always try the restaurant in the East Village too.
-Make sure to walk around the property and explore every corner but leave the activities for other towns. Avoid leaving the resort.
-I suggest you carry a torch as it gets very dark post 7pm.
-Make sure to carry food items like chips, nuts, dates, cup noodles, bread, cheese etc. There is no supermarket around and the restaurant shuts at 9pm. So if you’re going to stay up for the Northern Lights make arrangements accordingly. There is no kettle in the room but there is one in the spa and shower reception which is open 24 hours. So you can always carry ready to eat food, cup noodles, tea bags, coffee sachets. There is no minibar or late night rooms service.
– Carry extra batteries as the cold drains out the battery too fast.
-There is no better way to beat the cold than sip on brandy or vodka. The miniatures are easy to carry and are such a life saver.
– If you are flying from Dubai I would recommend you to take Finnair as it flies direct to Helsinki and is quite cheap. There is no entertainment on board so make sure you carry books, music or movies on your laptop.
Best time to visit:
The whole purpose to stay in an igloo is to have snow around. So I would suggest the best time to visit is between October to April, with February and March being the best in terms of Northern Light sightings and weather conditions. December and January are -30 degrees and it can get a little too cold where as February and March is around -15degrees which is perfect.
To say I was dissapointed with the service would mean that I expected a lot which was not the case. I had read reviews and was quite prepared for the cold service but it wasn’t so bad. The staff just sticks to the rules and they won’t budge nor will they go out of their way to do things for you. So its best you don’t expect anything. Honestly, the place just makes up for all of this.
-Is it worth the money? How much does it cost?
Yes it totally is worth every penny spent. I visited this place in March 2016 and then the room costed 500 Euros inclusive of breakfast and dinner, which I think is a good deal.
-Is it safe?
It is absolutely safe. Overall Finland is extremely safe, people are very nice and helpful.
-Can you see the lights from the igloo?
Yes you can see the lights from the igloo if the weather conditions are favourable. The sighting of the Aurora Borealis totally depends on the activity level and the visibility that day. There are various ways to track it, you can check the article here Northern Lights. . Incase you don’t get to see it do not get disappointed you can always go further north to Inari where the chances of the sighting are higher.
-Is there privacy? Can someone peep inside?
Yes the igloos are made of glass but are quite private. Nobody can stand around the igloo as its in a pile of snow. But you definitely don’t want to get undressed with the lights on.
-Do you get bored?
Well NO! You can never get bored here. You’re in the middle of nature and there’s so much to do.
-Is it very expensive?
No not as much as you think it would be. The entire trip to Finland would cost you lesser than a trip to New York.
-Are there vegetarian options?
No its very difficult to find good vegetarian options in the Igloo Hotel. In Finland you do get it but here it’s a little hard because they have a fixed menu. I suggest carrying ready-to-eat food and cup noodles.
-How many nights are ideal?
I would recommend minimum 2 nights out of which you spend 1 in the igloo and the other in the log cabin. If you are comfortable the igloo then you can spend both the nights here as well.
-What month did I visit in?
I was in Finland in the month of March, I think the weather was just perfect (-5 to -15 degrees) and the daylight was good too.
-Would I go back?
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After travelling to so many countries I’ve always been asked which is my favorite place in the world? Well I love a lot of places but nothing stole my heart like this one. I always say collect moments not things and this is exactly what I mean. This was the most dreamy trip of my life. I learnt to let go, to embrace what is, what was and what will be. I realised there’s so much outside in the world only if I had the time to catch up with the miracle that had been trying to catch up with me. But we finally met, this miracle and I, and in a nonchalant blink of an eye the world stood still. There was a sensation, a spark, a feeling of being alive and experiencing the real Finland. When I left this place I was smiling ear to ear, it felt like that night was a dream.
For a true Finnish experience a trip to Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is a must! Make sure to watch the video below..
I will be sharing my entire Lapland Itinerary in the next article.
Here is a guide for everything about the Northern Lights and how I saw it three nights in a row – Click Here
If you have the right kind of clothing you will never freeze. Read about the ultimate packing list in Lapland- Click Here