Greetings from a very beautiful but very cold destination. I’m currently dressed in my favourite oversize jumper and my knee high winter socks, sprawled out on my hotel bed wrapped in the softest blanket I’ve ever touched and drinking a warm cup of hot chocolate. Life couldn’t possibly get any better in this moment. So where am I? I’m in Rovaniemi, Finland!
Arrival… snow, snow and more snow
Everybody loves a summer holiday, but what about a winter one? Not the grey, rainy days, but the incredible whites and golden light of a true winter landscape. Snow falling from the sky, crisp clean air, reindeer sleigh rides… Sounds like heaven right? Well that’s exactly what I was greeted with the second I stepped out of Rovaniemi airport.
I had been wanting to experience a winter in Finland for some time and when a collaboration opportunity with Artic Light Hotel came about, I jumped at the chance. Literally. I jumped up off the couch after reading my email invitation and called Luca immediately. We were going to Finland!
Our taxi drive from the airport to the hotel didn’t take long and whilst Luca was chatting away to the driver, getting local tips, I was starring out the window, watching snow covered houses and trees pass me by. I was mesmerised.
Checking In… winter magic inside a room
Staying at the Arctic Light Hotel, well, the minute I stepped into our room it was like stepping into a modern artistic fairy tale. Wooden flooring and warm tones gave me a sense of Lappish nature, whilst the touch pad control settings and flat screen TV screamed nothing but luxury. What immediately caught my eye though was the bed and the beautiful feature wall of stars located behind it. I knew without a doubt that I was going to have an incredible night’s sleep.
Day One… award winning breakfast and reindeer sleigh rides
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of hotel breakfasts, they just don’t seem to be anything different to my regular breakfast selection at home. And when I’m on holiday, I always want something a bit more extravagant. My visit to Athens earlier on in the year had me impressed with my breakfast selection, but Arctic Light Hotel tops it by far. If I could take the mango chia pudding’s home with me, I would!
Created by TV chef Sara La Fountain, the selection is what dreams are made of. From chia pots, muesli and porridge, to pastries, a hot selection, and there’s even a selection of veggie and fruit juices. I always like to eat super healthy in the mornings, to give my day a great kick start, and everything on the menu here is fresh, healthy and super delicious.
After breakfast, Luca and I put on our warm clothing, (me about twenty layers, because my Australian-ness can’t handle the super cold) and headed out for the day. Prior to arriving in Rovaniemi we did our research on the different activities we could participate in. There was everything from, reindeer sleigh rides and dog sledding, to snowmobiling, ice fishing, skiing and snowboarding, the list goes on. But as we were doing our research we quickly realised that all these activities come at a cost, and a high one at that. So we decided to only pick the one’s that appealed to us most. For Luca it was the huskies and for me it was a reindeer sleigh ride.
The huskies were super cute, especially the puppies, I wanted to take one home with me, but to see a reindeer up close and personal, it was my childhood dream come true. The sleigh ride we went on, we made sure the reindeers were treated well and weren’t exploited for tourism purposes, because whilst we travel, any activities we participate in that involve animals, we want to make sure we’re staying ethical.
Dinner… comfort on a plate
Returning from our day of snow and fun, we were ready for a cozy night in. Since breakfast exceeded our expectations, we decided to dine at the hotel restaurant for dinner. All I can say is, absolutely incredible. The steak I had was mouth watering. I’m usually not a wine drinker but Juha the restaurants Duty Manager recommended a local red and it complimented my meal perfectly.
All the produce used in the restaurant is grown locally and those few ingredients that aren’t, are sourced from within the Arctic Circle. I love this, because not only was my meal flavoursome, but I knew it was ultra fresh as well. I honestly could have eaten two of everything.
Day Two… Santa Clause Village
No trip to Rovaniemi would be complete without a visit to Santa Claus Village. Releasing our inner child we had some well deserved fun sledding down hills, exploring the ice bar and ice sculptures, building snowmen, and warming ourselves up in the gift shops when it became a little too cold outside.
We didn’t realise at the time but you can have your passport stamped for a small fee at the village. We would have loved to have done this being that it’s located at the center of the Arctic Circle, but with our passports back at the hotel, we settled for a photo instead.
Day Three… winter walks, saunas and cocktails
To start the morning off right (post breakfast and many mango chia puddings later), I took myself to the hotel sauna for some me time. Letting the steam loosen my body, I cleared my mind and relaxed into the soothing warmth that surrounded me. It was pure bliss, although after about fifteen minutes, I got a bit restless and the dry heat became a little too much, so I took myself back to my room and got ready for the day. But hey, fifteen minutes is better than nothing. At least that’s what I keep telling myself, ha.
Today we opted for a free activity and honestly one of my favourites of the trip. We walked along the Ounasvaara winter trail, which had a winter wonderland vibe to it. A snow covered forest with snow bunnies hopping around and an amazing view of the city and Kemi River, it was truly a memorable experience.
When we arrived back at the hotel, post dinner at a nearby restaurant, we indulged in a cocktail at the hotel bar. It was the perfect way to end our night. As the bartender made our drinks, he explained what he was using and how the native berries grown in Rovaniemi added extra flavour to the drinks. His local knowledge of the ingredients used was impressive and it was so nice to hear the story behind my chosen cocktail. He even gave us a mini taste testing session of the berries.
Last Night… chasing the northern lights
So every night up until this point we had been using the app Aurora: My Aurora Forecast & Alerts to track the northern lights. After three days of patiently waiting, the weather conditions were finally right to see them. So layering up, we ventured out just after midnight to capture a glimpse of this natural wonder.
The temperature outside was freezing, -6 degrees but it felt a lot colder. From the time we got to the lookout, it took about forty minutes for the northern lights to appear, and by that time clouds had formed in the sky, making our visibility not so great.
We only saw it for a few seconds before the clouds completely covered our visibility and to say we saw it… well we saw a slight green tinge behind the clouds, nothing to warrant a tick off the bucket list. But I’m not giving up. I can’t wait until the day I can see it properly because I know it’ll be spectacular. Perhaps I’ll try for the Southern Lights a little closer to home in Tasmania, Australia.
Special thank you to Arctic Light Hotel for making my visit possible and providing an incredible experience for my first time in Rovaniemi – as always my opinions are my own.