Some things are on everyone’s travel bucket list. The Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos are two of these examples. I think every traveler dreams about staying at places like these. And so did we! Dreaming about traveling to Lapland, the Snow Hotel and these Glass Igloos have always been on top of our wish list.
So, I simply can’t wait to tell you all about this amazing place in Lapland, just keep reading.
How it all started
The story of the Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos starts back in 2007. Ville Haavikko, one of the two owners of the Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos, was still a student and had just signed up for a course about snow and ice building. It was during that course that he learned about a hotel located in Sweden that was completely made of snow and ice. After this course he was determined to pursue his dream of doing the same. And only one year later he was building the first SnowHotel with the other owner of the hotel, his wife Heidi. They opened the first SnowHotel in 2008 and have been building and expanding the business ever since.
Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos is located on the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, in the Winter Capital of Northern Finland and Santa’s hometown, Rovaniemi. The hotel area lies on the shores of Lake Lehtojärvi.
The hotel is located approximately 26 kilometers from Rovaniemi City Center and Santa Claus Village. Rovaniemi Airport is located about 40 minutes (35 kilometer) away.
Not to worry, if you book a SnowHotel and/or Glass Igloos accommodation package, transfer is included for you!
Visitors wanting to visit the unique and amazing SnowHotel can use the shuttle from the city center or from Santa Claus Village. Costs for these shuttles are 20 euro one way. It leaves 4 times a day from the city center at 1.00PM, 2.50PM, 4.45PM and 7.00PM. The shuttle leaves from Snowman World in Santa Claus Village roughly 30 minutes before the city center schedules.
The SnowHotel is open daily to visitors from 10.00AM to 7.00PM. Even if you don’t want to stay overnight, the SnowHotel is a great place to visit. There are several visitor packages you can book to make your visit extra special. They can include dinner at the Ice Restaurant or access to the Snow Sauna.
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It may be no surprise that the SnowHotel can only be visited during the winter months. The doors to the SnowHotel open every year on the 15th of December and it closes again on the 31st of March. After March it gets to warm to keep it up and running and the SnowHotel will slowly melt away.
Building the SnowHotel takes about 4 weeks. It starts with a week of fetching water from the nearby lake and turning it into the biggest pile of snow you have ever seen. After that there is enough snow to start building. The building takes another three weeks where they build almost full time around the clock. They use large molds to create the walls of the hotel.
Fun Fact: Before the Spring kicks in they saw large blocks of ice from the lake and store them in a huge freezer for the next year. So, if you see these amazing sculptures in the SnowHotel, then remember, it’s ice from the previous year.
Ever since they started the first SnowHotel in 2008, no SnowHotel has ever been the same to the year before. So if you have ever stayed here or visited and you come back one day, you will find a completely different hotel in lay out and design.
The SnowHotel has approximately 30 hotel rooms, an Ice Chapel, Ice Restaurant and Ice Bar. The temperature inside is between 0 and -5 degrees Celsius, at all times, even when it’s colder outside.
Every room at the SnowHotel is unique and different. When you visit or stay at this place it’s absolutely worthwhile to check out every single room. Every room has its own theme with amazing sculptures and art pieces, all made of ice and snow. They offer superior rooms in double, triple and family categories. Rooms can sleep up to 6 people. The bed frames are made of ice, but it has a normal mattress with a soft bed cover on top.
In addition to the superior rooms they also offer suites. Every suite is uniquely different from the other. I don’t know why, maybe because it was Valentines Day on the night we stayed over at the SnowHotel, but we were given the 18+ suite, room 82.
Experiencing a night in Arctic conditions
That is what the SnowHotel is all about, to experience a night in Arctic conditions. Overnight stays are not recommended for children under 5 years old. Also, only one overnight stay is recommended as you already get the once in a lifetime experience after one night.
Recommended to take with you when staying the night at the SnowHotel are the following items; woolen socks, thermal long trousers, thermal long sleeve shirt and a warm hat.
After check in the SnowHotel gives you a guided tour of the area to learn all about safety aspects and where everything is located. You also receive instructions about sleeping overnight and the sleeping bag. The sleeping bags are of high quality and warm Arctic sleeping bags with fleece linings.
Breakfast is included in your stay and don’t worry, it’s not served in the Ice Restaurant. It’s served in the Log Restaurant next to the reception area. Also Finnish Sauna is included in your stay in common use for women at 21:00 - 22:00 and for men at 22:00 - 23:00. You can also book private sauna, jacuzzi and snow sauna experiences.
Before going to sleep you can request being woken up during the night when the Aurora watcher spots the Northern Lights. If the Northern Lights show up, you will be woken up to experience the them.
Before you make your way to your room for a once in a lifetime arctic overnight experience, you leave your stuff in the locker room. You get your own locker to put away all personal belongings. In this locker room area they also have the so called ‘Plan B’. A couple of bunk beds in warm conditions. Just in case the cold gets to you and becomes too much, you can make your way to Plan B to have a warm night after all.
If you hang in there and become one of those die-hards to survive a night in Arctic conditions, a SnowHotel guide will wake you up at your desired time with hot berry juice. Believe me, it’s the best!
After you have had breakfast you will receive a certificate of achievement celebrating your overnight stay in Arctic conditions inside walls made of snow and ice.
Sleeping at a SnowHotel has always been somewhere on top of my bucket list. So when we got the chance to experience it in Rovaniemi, I was super stoked. I still am, it is an experience never to forget again.
I thought we would be cold all night, but the opposite is true. By just wearing thermal long sleeved underwear we stayed extremely warm all night. You get a onesie kind of thermal suit from the SnowHotel to put on first. With that on you step into the sleeping bag and zip it all the way to the top, only to leave nose and eyes uncovered. I’m not joking, I was super warm all night. But yes, the nose was close to frozen.
There are no ensuite bathrooms or toilets, so it’s pretty much back to basic and it gives a bit of a camping feeling with shared toilets and showers.
Staying over at a SnowHotel in Rovaniemi is not your fancy or comfortable hotel stay, I have to be honest here, but it’s absolutely the experience of a lifetime and I’m super happy and proud that we did it!
Just as unique and one of a kind as the SnowHotel is the Ice Restaurant. It is located inside the SnowHotel. Everything is made of ice, the tables and the benches. Dress warm when you go out for dinner here.
They serve a set three course menu. For starters and dessert there is only one choice. There are four options for the main course, elk, salmon, chicken or tofu.
You will need to confirm your choices when making the reservation. Of course we had dinner in the Ice Restaurant, we just had to experience it. If you ask me, the best part is dessert. A delicious lingonberry-caramel bavaroise and dried lingonberries with meringue served on an ice plate, the best!
The Ice Bar, it can’t be missed. The first time I walked in, the smell of alcohol was everywhere. I wondered why because it was actually closed at that time. Later I discovered why that is.
At the Ice Bar you don’t order a drink with ice, you order a drink in ice. A drink in a frozen icy glass is absolutely next level. They offer plenty of local liquors and drinks, try something new, you won’t regret it.
Maybe the best part, when you have finished your drink you can smash the ice glass against the walls. That explains the smell of alcohol, it’s just in the ice walls with all these smashed 'glasses'.
If I wasn’t already married, I would probably consider getting married here. The Arctic SnowHotel has an Ice Chapel and it’s amazing and awesome.
About 10 weddings per season take place in this Ice Chapel. We have been told that weddings held here are usually rather short. Because of the cold I would assume, it is basically ‘yes’, ‘yes’, and out of there again.
So if you’re looking to get married and want to keep it short and simple, you might want to consider the Ice Chapel.
When I heard of the Snow Sauna, my first thought was, how on earth is this even possible, how does it work? A sauna gets really hot, wouldn’t that just melt away the snow?
The answer is no and the Snow Sauna is one of the most unique and special experiences we ever had. The Snow Sauna is made of ice and snow, only the sauna benches are made of wood. Just like a normal sauna, the snow sauna has a hot stove. It works the same as a regular sauna, throw water on the stove and the thick steam will create high and hot temperatures.
You can hear the snowy and icy walls around you melt away a little. A very special and relaxing experience. You can only use the snow sauna for about 15 minutes. After that, the snow and ice need to freeze again.
Our recommendation is to book a private sauna package with the traditional Finnish Sauna, the Snow Sauna and the outdoor jacuzzi. It’s a 90 minute experience and guarantees full relaxation. We loved it!
Next to the famous SnowHotel they also have 39 Glass Igloos with a total of 127 beds. Where the ice hotel is open from December 15 to the end of March, the glass igloos already open in mid-September.
Of course, when you visit in Winter, it’s the absolute dream to sleep in these Glass Igloos and see the Northern Lights from your bed. The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and can’t be predicted or ordered. It's the hope of seeing the Northern Lights that makes it exciting. If you don’t want to miss out on seeing the Aurora, the Glass Igloos have a light switch for the Aurora Watcher. Make sure you leave this button switched on and you will be woken up when the Lights appear.
Besides the Ice Restaurant the Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos have two more restaurants. The first one is the Kota Restaurant. It is located on the hotel’s lake shore, right next to the lakeside sauna.
The ambiance in there is amazing with a blazing fireplace right in the middle of the restaurant. Sometimes I regret not eating fish, because the speciality dish of Kota Restaraunt is the mouth-watering glowfried salmon fillet. Salmon doesn’t get tastier than this! You can also choose between meat or vegetarian dishes when enjoying dinner at Kota Restaurant. Their creamy carrot soup with crispy onions on top is to die for! You can also have lunch at Kota Restaurant.
Another restaurant on site is the Log Restaurant, located in the same building as the reception and the small souvenir shop.
Breakfast is served every day here at Log Restaurant from 07.30 – 10.00AM. Log Restaurant is also open for dinner on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
If you attend any of the tours or activities from the Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos, then the Log Restaurant is also the place where they serve hot berry juice and cookies, just to warm up after a cold outdoor activity.
The Sky Bar is the newest addition to the hotel’s restaurants. It opened in 2018 and is located in the same building as the Kota Restaurant. Sky Bar is a lounge-type of bar that serves cocktails with a local twist along with other drinks and small snacks. When it is dark and the sky is clear, head to the second floor, where you can then hopefully see the northern lights through the glass roof.
In addition to the bucketlist worthy accommodation options at the SnowHotel and Glass Igloos, they also offer a wide range of amazing and super fun winter activities.
The choice is huge, what about ice fishing, a reindeer farm visit, snow shoe excursion and starting very soon the electric snow scooter safari.
We went on the snow shoe excursion as we had never done this before and were curious to how it would be. It was pretty cool I must admit, even though it sounds a bit boring maybe, just walking through the forest. The surrounding nature you walk through is amazing and on top of a hill there is a bonfiree waiting with hot berry juice and sausages to be grilled.
Something brand new and very cool is the electric snow scooter. We were the very first guests to experience these snow scooters and they hope to offer them as a new activity soon, certainly next winter season.
We enjoyed these to the fullest and think these will be the next big thing. If you’re visiting Rovaniemi in Winter ’23-’24, make sure to visit the SnowHotel and give these Electric Snow Scooters a go!
Snowman World is from the same owners as the SnowHotel and the Glass Igloos, but is located in the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. Snowman World is opened daily from December 6th to March 19th. Just like the SnowHotel, Snowman World is built out of ice and snow. It’s the ultimate winter and fun destination in Santa Claus Village. You could easily spend a full day here and not get bored at all!
There is an Ice Restaurant and an Ice Bar here, there is a SnowHotel Showroom that demonstrates what the rooms at the actual Arctic SnowHotel look like. Furthermore there is a Snow Labyrinth, an Ice Skating rink, an Ice Slide and a Big Snow Slide with tubes.
Even if you don’t get to visit the Arctic SnowHotel, Snowman World at Santa Claus Village gives you a good glimpse of what the SnowHotel is like. And let’s be honest, all the activities they offer are just super fun. We liked the Big Snow Slide the best. We slided off like little kids and had the best time!
Good to know, when you stay at the SnowHotel and Glass Igloos, entrance to Snowman World is free for you.
Just like Snowman World, Santamus Restaurant is of the same owners as the SnowHotel and also located in the Santa Claus Village. In Summer 2022 we had lunch at the Santamus Restaurant, but that was all outdoors, with an outdoor kitchen and seating area. The food then was really good, but we had no idea about the inside.
In Winter, Santamus Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner buffet. When I walked in to the restaurant I was speechless, such an amazing place. It’s the restaurant to experience when in Rovaniemi, make sure you don’t miss out!
The restaurant serves organic and local cuisine in a Lapland themed setting. You can even do sauna experiences here. Have dinner and sauna afterwards, I know, it may sound a bit strange, but the Finnish people and sauna, it’s a thing!
And, you can do gold panning experiences at the restaurant too. A place that has to be experienced, go visit the Santamus Restaurant!
Arctic Art Festival
For the first time ever the Arctic Art Festival was organized at the Arctic SnowHotel in February 2023. The Arctic Art festival features snow and ice-themed events and activities all week.
Ice sculpting, an international snow sculpture competition and many other activities are offered with free entrance. Unfortunately we visited shortly after the Festival week was finished, but luckily the sculptures were still around at the Arctic SnowHotel, so we could get a good feel of what the festival was like.
Good news for everyone considering traveling to Lapland next year, the Arctic Art Festival will be back in 2024!
It's no surprise, we are super enthusiastic about the Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos. They offer once in a lifetime experiences and they excel at it!
If you’re planning a trip to Lapland this Winter or next, make sure to check out the Arctic SnowHotel for a unique experience and a real addition to your Lapland trip.
A massive thank you to the Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos for making our dreams come true and letting us experience a night in Arctic conditions. We loved every minute of our stay and highly recommend this place if you ever visit Lapland and Rovaniemi.
This blog was written by travel writer and Traveltomtom team member Ashley. She stayed at the Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos, on behalf of Traveltomtom, and wrote this blog about her experiences.
Enjoy your trip to Lapland!