Staying in a glass igloo hotel has been on my bucket list for years. Ever since I saw pictures of the one in Finland, I’ve had my sights set on staying there and seeing the northern lights.
Come fall of 2021 and I decided that I needed to get out of town and do SOMETHING on my life to-do list. Not sure why, but I decided that going to Finland in December was an excellent idea. I checked and booked four nights in the glass igloo hotel at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. This hotel located north of the arctic circle in the area of Finland called Lapland. They are known for their famous glass igloos and for being home to Santa and his reindeer.
Here is what my adventure to Kakslauttanen was like.
The Glass Igloo Hotel Adventure
Getting to the hotel requires that you fly into the neighboring town of Ivalo. From there you have to arrange a ride to the resort. The resort provides this service, for a fee, or you can independently get a taxi over.
The resort is spread out and divided into East and West Villages. The West Village is primarily glass igloos that can sleep up to two people and has a small half bathroom (no shower). The East Village has Kelo Igloos. Kelo means cabin. So you have a cabin and igloo combo. This can sleep up to 6 (perfect for a girls getaway!), has a full bathroom and private sauna.
There are also cabins only that you can reserve if you have no interest in the igloo portion of this resort.
Each igloo and cabin and igloo/cabin are free-standing structures. So, to go from one to the other requires trekking through the snow. If you’re staying in the glass igloo, then showers/saunas are located in a separate building. For meals, you have to go to the main reception hall on the west village side.
In addition, the resort has facilities for Santa Claus Village – his home, souvenir shop, party house, and a pen for the reindeer to hang out. As a guest, you have the ability to wander around and see all of these sites.
In regards to other activities, there is a planetarium that shows movies about the northern lights, and a viewing tower with excellent panoramic views of the arctic jungle. To keep you busy, the resort offers reindeer safaris, a snowmobiling excursion, dog sledding, ice fishing, and sleds for reserving so that you can enjoy the snow! Plus, given that it’s one of the worlds best places for seeing the northern lights, there is also a specific northern lights tour so that you can find the best spot for viewing! Needless to say, you won’t be bored.
Day 1 – Reindeer Safari
My first full day at the resort, I had booked a reindeer safari. After breakfast, I met with our guide who took us to our starting point.
What I learned about reindeer that day: both males and females have antlers; babies don’t have spots (like our deer); they shouldn’t be touched because doing so disrupts their heat entrapment in their fur that keeps them warm; they are super friendly but also spook easily; every reindeer in Finland is privately owned.
The safari included a sled ride, stop in a local teepee for a hot juice drink made with local berries to help warm up from the cold, and excellent views of the arctic jungle.
Day 2 – Snowmobiling
I’ve never ridden or driven a snowmobile before this trip. Somehow I decided that the arctic jungle was a good time to get started. I was kind of nervous, and it took a few minutes to get used to, but once I got the hang of it, it was SO much fun. I highly recommend this. I’m personally going to try and snowmobile anytime I’m in a cold weather location for vacation from now on.
Day 3 – Saunas and Northern Lights
There are options for renting out smoke saunas. However, that was a bit expensive (approximately 400ish euros) and was meant for larger groups. So, I bypassed that and opted for the regular saunas. It wasn’t super crowded when I did it, so I got privacy and relaxation!
Northern lights season is anytime from August to April, and the best viewing areas are up north, away from big city lights and light pollution. The winter months can be tricky, though, because of all the snow and precipitation that can happen and cloud up the sky. I got super lucky while I was there that the sky cleared up on my third night. I could see the stars and I kept my fingers crossed that the lights would show. The cool thing about this glass igloo hotel resort is that each room/cabin/igloo is outfitted with an Aurora Alert. So, if there’s a solar flare, your alert will go off, wake you up in time to see the lights, and snap a few photos! (i.e. you don’t need to be up all night ever night)
The beauty of the glass igloo is that you can see and capture the images from the warm comfort of your room. I found, however, that my pictures were better when I went outside. So yes, I threw on my outwear over my pajamas and braved the cold. Here’s what I saw:
Day 4 – Exploring the views
Once I saw the northern lights, I gotta say I felt pretty accomplished. So on my last day, I took it easy and relaxed into the morning and then after brunch headed out to get some souvenirs. The shop on site had a lot of great gifts, from reindeer leather items to reindeer antler key chains, to jewelry to food. It’s definitely worth stopping by to see what they have.
Attached to the shop is a viewing tower from which you get 360-degree views of the resort and the arctic jungle.
Things to Know Before You Go
It’s Finland and you’ll be north of the arctic circle. Pack smartly. Bust out your snow gear, your wool baselayers, your warm mid layers, hats and gloves and waterproof boots. You’ll need all of it. I also recommend hand warmers because despite how bundled up I was, the cold eventually did seep in.
Finland food is basically standard European food with the addition of reindeer meat. They also do salmon and other fish realllllly well. I mean it’s amazing. Best salmon I’ve had. Ever.
In addition, they have a famous chocolatier called Fazer chocolate, made with actual milk. There are cafes around Helsinki as well that you can try. You get an excellent selection of food and of course chocolatey desserts and coffee. Highly recommend.
Life in Finland
In my experience, they are pretty minimalistic. So be prepared to bring your own toiletries (don’t rely on the resorts/hotels there to give you any), and pack reusable water bottles.
Like the rest of Europe, Finland is also expensive. So be sure to prepare your travel budget accordingly. Of course credit card is accepted everywhere.
Winter In Finland
When you’re that far north, be aware that day and night are a little bit different. You’ll experience no real sunrise or sunset. Rather the horizon lights up for a few hours each day and then it’s dark for the rest. Be aware of this so that when you book activities you do so earlier in the day when “daylight” exisits.
This phenomenon can also make it harder to acclimate from jet lag. So pack sleep aids to help you reset your body clock.
A trip to Finnish Lapland to stay in a glass igloo hotel is definitely worth doing. It’ll push your comfort zone if you aren’t comfortable with the cold, give you some unique activities and food, plus give you the opportunity for seeing a natural phenomenon that truly feels like a once in a lifetime experience.