The Snow Village

Each year in late-November, a thousand truck-loads of snow and massive blocks of ice carved out of a nearby river are used to create a winter wonderland like no other: the Snow Village in Finnish Lapland. Situated deep in the forests near the ski resorts of Yll√§s and Levi, the Snow Village is a place where local snow and ice sculptors let their creativity and skills run wild and the result is simply phenomenal! Within a space of a few weeks, the sculptors construct a 3,000 square meter village consisting of the Snow Hotel (igloos; each with a different design), the Ice Bar restaurant/bar, tunnels and a wedding chapel, made solely from snow and ice that lasts for several months until the spring thaw. The subtle LED lighting and the sculptures that adorn the walls and open spaces create an enchanting ambiance throughout the village. Visitors can go on a guided tour of the village, spend the night in one of the suites, have a drink and dinner at the Ice Bar or get married in the gorgeous Ice Chapel! Scroll down for a tour of the village (there’s a video too!) and my account of what it’s like to spend a night in a bed made of solid ice!

A tour of the Snow Village

It doesn’t look like much from the outside – a discreet entrance and mounds of snow surrounded by lovely pine forests.

The entrance to the Snow Village
Mounds of snow

Visitors are greeted in the heated Reception area – this area, along with the adjacent restaurant, is the only permanent structure in the Snow Village. There’s also a television that shows a fascinating documentary of how the village is built (it’s absolutely worth watching!). From the Reception area, two doors lead visitors to two separate sections of the Snow Village: the igloos and chapel, and the Ice Bar. These sections are naturally isolated and remain at a steady minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit); cold but warmer than the winter temperatures outside, which often hit minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit)! I decided to check out the Ice Bar first!

The Ice Bar at the Snow Village

Where dinner is served!
The bar is made of solid ice!

Two things you have to do in the Snow Village: dress warm and enjoy a shot of peppermint vodka served in an ice glass (which you then smash onto the floor!).

Cheers! Finnish peppermint vodka in an ice glass!
Minttu peppermint vodka served in an ice glass

Watch a short video of my stroll around the Ice Bar:

The Snow Hotel

A long passageway from the Reception area takes visitors past all the rooms in the Snow Hotel. It truly is a surreal sight and I had to stop, stare and touch the surfaces many times to allow my mind to properly register the scenes! See for yourself:

The passages were decorated and lit differently

My favourite passage was the Passage of Fire, with its fiery ice sculptures and bright red lighting.

The Passage of Fire

The main passage ends at the Ice Chapel, a bright space covered by a dome, with ice benches, ice columns and classical lines along the wall. Gorgeous!

The Ice Chapel

The Snow Village is a popular spot for weddings. I guess it’s a novel, romantic idea – I was told that the bride arrives at the Chapel in a reindeer sled – but standing there in the Chapel, I couldn’t help but think how cold it was and how long the ceremony would take. In addition, with the virgin white walls, floor and ceiling, I wondered if the bride would simply disappear if she wore a white gown. ūüėČ

Book a snowmobile tour and visit to the Snow Village.

What it’s like to spend a night at the Snow Hotel

The Snow Hotel has 20-odd rooms or igloos, some of which are individually decorated suites. Each room has beds made of ice, with a mattress on top. The illuminated ice and snow art in the suites were absolutely beautiful.

One of the suites at the Snow Hotel

The snow and ice provides excellent isolation. As a consequence, the temperature remains stable, albeit below freezing, throughout the hotel. There’s a heated common area in a separate building (exclusively for guests) with bunks, showers, toilets and a Finnish sauna (of course!). Each guest is provided with Arctic thermal sleeping bags and pillows – you take these with you from the heated common area to your room when you turn in for the night. I found the sleeping bags sufficiently warm – there was no need to go to sleep dressed in multiple layers. Climbing into the bed without slipping off the icy edge was a bit of a challenge, as was taking off my jacket and quickly diving into the sleeping bag! I made sure I didn’t drink too much before turning in – I dreaded the consequence of a struggle with a sleeping bag and a long, cold walk to the loo in the middle of the night!

Another gorgeous suite
I slept in the Cupid suite. ūüôā

It was surely a unique experience to sleep in an illuminated igloo and be surrounded by ice and snow. The ethereal light in the igloo combined with the incredible silence was simply bewildering. However, I felt very confined in the Arctic sleeping bag – I admit, I’m not used to sleeping bags. Moreover, the constant blue glow in the igloo (see the photo of the Cupid suite above) each time I opened my eyes was a bit too otherworldly for me to have a restful sleep. At eight o’clock the next morning, the guests were awoken by the hotel staff who also brought a glass of hot berry juice. I gathered my sleeping bag and pillows and stumbled back to the heated common area before heading to the heated restaurant for breakfast – the hot cup of coffee never felt so good in my hands!

A visit to the Snow Village is a fantastic experience and one I would highly recommend to anyone travelling through Finnish Lapland in the winter. Spending the night in the Snow Hotel is an extraordinary experience but keep in mind that it’s not the most comfortable place for a good night’s sleep.

Getting there: the closest airport is in Kittila, about a 40-minute drive away. There are scheduled flights from Helsinki as well as a variety of chartered services from various points in Europe. The Snow Village in Lainio is also easily accessible from Ylläs.

Note: a big thank you goes to Visit Finland and Ylläs for hosting me in Lapland. As always, all opinions expressed above are mine.


17 Responses

  • […] activities to keep anyone busy! I went snow-shoeing, husky-sledding, sat in a sauna gondola (!!), slept in an icy bed, floated in a frozen lake and even saw the northern lights! In the town centre, big blocks of snow […]

  • I saw this on tv and I even saw one that was like a hotel that have rooms for couples but I don’t know if they can keep it if inter season ends.

  • Snow Village in Finnish Lapland | Travel Europe with Best Travel Content Europe

    […] a terribly soft spot for Finland and thoroughly enjoyed member Velvet Escape’s recent post Inside the Snow Village, describing the annual snow village that gets built in the forest between the resorts of¬†Yll√§s […]

  • […] LashWorldTourCultural Insights, Travel Tips, and Tales of Adventure from 14+ years of world travelsHOMEABOUTAbout LashWorldTourAbout LashContactWhat’s in a name?LashWorldTour Travel MapLash’s Travel Fast FactsMissionsWorld Travels Overview: 1991-2011PressCOUNTRIESASIABALI- INDONESIABalinese CultureDiving in BaliBicycling in BaliAmedSanurBali MiscBANGLADESHBRUNEICAMBODIAHONG KONGJAPANLAOSMALAYSIAKuala LumpurPenangLangkawiBorneoDiving in MalaysiaMalaysia MiscMYANMARNEPALPHILIPPINESSHANGHAI- CHINASINGAPORESRI LANKATHAILANDVIETNAMAUSTRALIAUSAEUROPEENGLANDSPAINBRAZILCULTUREADVENTURESBicycle TravelCycling Bali SeriesHikingScuba DivingSky DivingSurvivor TV Show CrewTravel DisastersWWOOFTRAVEL TALESPHOTO GALLERIESTRAVEL TIPS10 Free Things to do in… SeriesFlight TipsTravel Safety TipsMisc Travel TipsBeyond GuidebooksTRAVEL RESOURCESInterviews with other World TravelersReviewsLinksTRAVEL STORETRAVEL BOOKS STOREMY CYCLING AND HIKING GUIDEBOOKS TO BALI2012 CALENDARSFREE eBOOK wp_flash_img_show will display here (config: default)« TRAVEL INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS CHRISTENSEN OF AMATEUR TRAVELER TRAVEL TIPS: UNIQUE HOTELS OF THE WORLD- pt 1 2012/06/14 by Lash WorldTour Wanderlust Boutique Hotel- SingaporeTRAVEL TIPS: UNIQUE HOTELS OF THE WORLDRecently I set out to write an informative article about all the different forms of accommodation around the world, from free to budget to mid-range to luxury. My list quickly swelled. I soon realized a much better approach was to write a series of shorter posts, each devoted to just one category: free, budget, mid-range, luxury. And so I bring you the first of my ‘accommodation around the world’ series, in the luxury accommodation category: types of unique hotels of the world.Without a doubt, luxury hotels and resorts can be wonderful, rejuvenating vacation get-aways / experiences. But, let’s face it, most 5-star hotels/resorts offer rooms with that same standard ‘hotel room’ feeling, a result of their typical color-scheme, layout, decore, and interiors.The first few times, that can feel luxurious, but it gets old quickly. Besides that, many large chain hotels and resorts are massive, leading to a very impersonal experience. You can quickly feel like just another one of hundreds or thousands of other guests. In addition, ¬†many resorts cater to families, so they can be excessively noisy and hectic- hardly the stuff for de-stressing and tranquility.You can avoid all the monotony and impersonal ambiance of standard luxury hotels by staying at more unique types of accommodation. Next time you’re looking for a luxurious hotel or resort, consider these alternatives instead. Starting with the least unusual:guest room at 1881 Chong Tian Hotel- Georgetown-Penang- Malaysia1. Design Hotels / Boutique Hotels / Art Hotels¬†Alternately referred to as Design, Boutique, or Art Hotels, these special places are found in abundance all over the world. They are generally independent hotels, small to medium in size, and have their own unique flair. They’re especially noted for outstanding architecture, cool interiors, unique decore , interesting rooms, attention to detail and excellent, personalized service. Many display art on walls, incorporate designer furniture, and use stimulating color schemes. Their restaurants usually serve extremely high quality gourmet food, drinks, and cocktails, some by well-known chefs.Mango Tree Place- a boutique hotel in Penang, MalaysiaBoutique, Design, and Art Hotels/Resorts are generally in the same price range as more standard luxury hotels. So why not opt for a much more personalized, unique, and interesting experience for the same price?Recently, I’ve had the great pleasure of staying in several excellent boutique hotels/resorts. Each one was unique: A Chinese cultural hotel, one that simulated a real apartment, an art hotel showcasing famous chairs, and a petite personalized beach resort. If you’re interested in finding out more, read one of my reviews or simply google ‘design hotel’ ’boutique hotel’ or ‘art hotel’ plus the location you’d like to visit. My reviews:1881 Chong Tian Cultural Hotel¬† / ¬†Mango Tree Place ¬†/ ¬†Casa del Mar Boutique Resort¬†——————————————————————————————————————————————————————one charming Lake District cottage beside a rivertypical Lake District cottage yard with views2. British ‘cottages’¬†The Lake District is one of England’s most famous and beloved vacation destinations. It’s a large, beautiful natural area of rolling hills, lakes, country gardens and many walking trails. A very popular type of accommodation there are what the Brits refer to as ‘cottages’. But they are certainly not what Americans think of as ‘cottages’. The Lake District Cottages are not small wooden cabins in a forest. They are generally renovated historic estate houses from the 18th-19th centuries, built of stone, complete with fireplaces, well-tended gardens, fully-equipt kitchens, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. They’ve been further upgraded to include all the modern amenities you’d find in a 5-star hotel.another, larger Lake District cottage set in mountainsliving room of this cottageThe Brits refer to cottages as ‘self-catering’ – there are no hotel staff or restaurant services. Guests cook their own meals in fully-equipt kitchens or visit nearby restaurants. Literally, guests are staying in a house.¬†Lake District Cottages are usually rented out by the week,¬†rather¬†than nightly, though some rent out for 3-4 nights. The nightly cost works out to much less than you’d pay for a mere hotel room. Instead, you get an entire estate house to live in for the same price- ¬†or less- of a luxury hotel. ¬†Besides that, there are pet-friendly cottages, child-friendly cottages, honeymoon cottages, group and corporate size cottages. Guests will enjoy much more independence, privacy, and the use of a full home.So whenever you fancy a visit to the charming English countryside, don’t forget to investige cottages as an alternative to hotels!——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Japanese Ryokan guest room3. Japanese ‘ryokan’Ryokan are the¬†traditional¬†Japanese¬†equivalent of luxury resorts and spas. Most are situated in gorgeous natural surroundings, particularly mountains. A large percentage are located at natural hot springs and incorp0rate hot baths, saunas and steam rooms. Many are also located near significant Japanese temples and shrines. Most cities also have at least one¬†traditional¬†ryokan in their midst.Ryokan are noted by their traditional¬†Japanese¬†architecture, interiors, customs, and cuisine. They are immaculately clean and¬†impeccably¬†maintained. Staff manners and etiquette are without equal. Rooms feature tatami mat floors, sliding wood-glass doors, and futon mattresses and bedding, which are put away into closets during the day then laid out for guests at night. Sliding doors and wall panels are often hand-painted in black n white or delicate colors. Sliding doors or windows usually open onto stunning views of landscaped gardens, forests, or mountain scenery.Lash enjoying Japanese ryokan's onsenTraditional¬†yukata are supplied as robes, which Japanese guests are fond of wearing all over the hotel and spa. Guests are served an exquisite multiple-course Japanese dinner and an equally beautiful breakfast, usually ¬†in their rooms. Guests are given unlimited use of the baths (onsen), saunas, steam rooms and any other hot water facilities. Many have jugs of sake sitting beside the onsen for guests to drink in square wooden mugs at their own discretion.While living in Kyoto, Japan for six years, I took the opportunity to stay at several ryokan, and I can tell you it’s an entirely different world!If you ever want an utterly unusual and luxurious hotel experience, head to Japan and book into a ryokan.——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–guest room at Snow Hotel- Finland4. Finland’s Snow HotelIn the past year or so I’ve seen photos and articles of a magnificent hotel built entirely of snow and ice, up in northern Finland’s Lapland. Not only are the reception, hallways and rooms made of ice, but so are the beds! I can’t help but wonder what it’s like to sleep on ice? ¬†But what really caught my eye in the photos were the stunning colored lights illuminating crystal clear ice walls and ice sculptures located around the property. Despite my great distain of cold, even I’m tempted to go try it out!Recently my friend and fellow travel blogger, Keith Jenkins of Velvet Escape, had the enviable opportunity to do just that. ¬†He’s written up a personalized first-hand account of his experience. Go check out his story for more details: Inside the Snow Village———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-guest room at Fiji's underwater hotel- Poseidon Hotel5. Underwater HotelsAs a PADI Dive Instructor and avid reef lover, I was totally captivated by recent articles I’ve seen about underwater hotels. The rooms are actually located under the sea, with windows or walls looking onto tropical reefs teaming with colorful fish and marine life. How awesome would that be?Upon investigation, I discovered not one but three underwater hotels around the world. Jules’ Undersea Lodge is located in Key Largo, Florida. The underwater ‘rooms’ were originally scientific marine labs that have been converted into cozy living spaces. Inside they look something like a trailer or furnished submarine, with a big round window looking out to the sea. Guests access their room by diving to it and making a special entry, like a spaceship or submarine. They’re first instructed on exactly how to enter. Generally speaking, guests should be certified divers, but if not Jules’ dive team will give non-diving guests basic training so they’re qualified to dive and reach their room.Jules Underwater Lodge- Key Largo-FloridaFiji boasts a more upscale, luxurious version at Poseidon Resort. (photo above) ¬†The rooms are rounded domes of glass, something like ‘pods’. According to their website, 70% of the room surfaces are clear acrylic plastic (not actually glass). Essentially, guests are entirely surrounded by the sea as they sit in their living room! Underwater rooms are accessed by an elevator and then a hotel-like corridor, with doors leading to each room. Guests never have to get wet, either entering, staying , or leaving their rooms.A third luxurious underwater hotel has been designed ¬†in Dubai. Dozens of online newspapers and magazines have written up articles, complete with photos, videos and explanations. Simply Google ‘Underwater Hotel Dubai’ to see more.———————————————————————————————————————————————QUESTIONS:¬†Which of these unique hotels would you like to stay at?Do you know of any other unique hotels of the world? Share !   (function() {var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT'), s1 = document.getElementsByTagName('SCRIPT')[0];s.type = 'text/javascript';s.async = true;s.src = ';;s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1);})();0Pin Itvar dd_offset_from_content = 40; var dd_top_offset_from_content = 0; /* /* Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published.Name:Email:Website:Message:You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> […]

  • […] Read the accompanying post: ‘Inside the Snow Village‘. […]

  • This is incredible! I stayed in a hotel in Bolivia that was completely made of salt, which was a bit like this but less glamorous. It was near the Uyuni Salt Flats.

    The salt sculpture of Big Ben was great! ūüôā

  • This sounds like an amazing time! I especially liked the photo of the Passage of Fire with its red lighting and would love to visit this place and stay in one of the beautiful suites!

  • Thanks for your lovely comment Zenaida. It sure is a totally different experience compared to a “hot and muggy island”. Both have their merits. Hehe! ūüôā The northern lights were spectacular!


  • Now this is a place for me! Ice and sun, snow white and bright colors, furs to snuggle in… I’ll take this anytime over some hot and muggy island with mosquitoes. For sure a place to visit and to experience the Northern LIghts, too!

  • Thanks Jennifer for your comment. Yes, my hands were cold. That image of the disappearing bride keeps popping up in my head! Hahaha!


  • Your hands must have been freezing holding the ice glass! My hands were cold with gloves holding my ice glass at ICEBAR Oslo! Love all of the pictures though and I agree with you on the bride! It looks like she would just blend in.

  • Haha, I was wearing gloves but I had to take them off to take my pictures. ūüôā The same people who construct this village also built a similar Snow Village in downtown Montreal last winter. The Snow Village in Lainio has been constructed every year for the past 10 years now, and the designs each year are different.

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