That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland

 

We pulled up to a discreet looking entrance: a door surrounded by mounds of snow, tucked deep into the forests of Lainio, Finland.

This is the Snow Village?

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Reception

 

We might have driven right past it if it hadn’t been for the well-placed signage. But when we walked through the door we were immediately transported to a magical winter wonderland—and a hotel unlike any we had visited before.

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Hallway

 

Every year in late November, an international set of skilled artists and sculptors arrive to the Arctic Circle to bring new form to crystallized water. It takes 1,000 truckloads of snow and 300,000 kilos of ice blocks (carved from the local river) to create the Snow Village; the resulting ice and snow complex consists of a restaurant, a bar, lobbies, hotel rooms, a church, children’s play area and an abundance of awe-inspiring ice sculptures. The design changes each year, promising visitors a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland- Snow Village Finland Ice Restaurant Tables

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland- Snow Village Finland Wedding Chapel

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland- Snow Village Finland Childrens Play Area

 

Building the Snow Village

The Snow Village is built entirely out of snow and ice. To construct the dome shapes, a giant round balloon is first inflated. Snow is then packed on top. Once the snow has compacted and set a strong, insulating and protective layer, the balloon is popped, and the basic structure is formed. This is just the foundation for the village—ice furniture, massive snow murals, and intricate ice sculptures still need to be designed. LED lights then accent the artwork, contributing to the truly magical ambience inside the village. Because the artists must wait until the weather conditions are cold enough to begin, typically around -10 ºC, they only have a few short weeks to create the 3000 square meters of snow magic!

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Hallway

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Hallway

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Snow Art

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Snow Art

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Snow Art

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Snow Art

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Snow Art

 

There are 15 double igloo rooms and 8 artistically decorated snow suites. The igloos give you a sense of what it is like to sleep in a room made of snow, but the snow suites are the works of art you’ll want to check out. Each room has it’s own large mural, which again changes every year. During our visit it was the ‘penguin room’ that proved to be our favorite, though the ‘wheel room’ was a close second.

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Ice Suite 101

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Ice Suite

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Santa Claus Ice Suite

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Shark Room

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Chinese Ice Suite

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Ice Suite

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Ice Suite Penguins

 

Dining at the Ice Bar

Dining at the Ice Bar is certainly a romantic and intimate experience, especially as you’ll want to cuddle to stay warm. We enjoyed dinner at the restaurant, and the delectable three-course meal quickly made us forget about our chilly bums seated upon blocks of ice.

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Ice Restaurant Reservation

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - A Cruising Couple Snow Village Finland

 

The menu features primarily Lappish cuisine. For our main courses we chose the Elk Pasta and Elk Meatballs. Both were phenomenal, though we did have to eat a bit quickly to prevent the food from getting cold!

Even if you don’t stay for an entire meal in the restaurant, a shot of local liqueur—served in a glass made of ice—is an absolute must. We recommend the Lingonberry Vodka. Ask to throw your ‘glass’ on the ground once your finished for a bit of flair.

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Snow Bar Ice Shot Glasses

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Ice Bar

 

Sleeping in a Snow Suite

Sleeping in the Snow Village is a once in a lifetime experience—and it’s one we highly recommend.

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Ice Suite

 

Before our night in the igloo, we were a bit unsure. I love a warm and cozy bed, piled high with blankets and pillows. The thought of choosing to sleep in a room kept at -2ºC to -5ºC seemed a bit counterintuitive. But after completing our stay, we can definitely say that it was a memorable and worthwhile experience. We even slept soundly until the warm lingonberry juice wake-up call in the morning!

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Sleeping in an Ice Suite

 

What We Learned

Though the rooms are kept chilly, the Snow Village provides you with super-insulated sleeping bags. If you wear some thermals and bundle up inside it, you’ll be warm and comfortable. Don’t wear too much clothing inside your sleeping bag though; then you’ll begin to sweat, and the resulting wetness will be what makes you cold and uncomfortable. Our faces got a bit chilly during the night, but other than that we couldn’t have been snugger!

Keep in mind that the snow rooms aren’t really meant for claustrophobics. You are in a dome of snow, after all. If you have trouble sleeping when there is a bit of light (as I do) bring an eye mask. The LED lights are left on for safety precautions throughout the night, so it doesn’t ever get that dark.

Only bring absolute essentials into your snow room, and keep them warm by placing them in the bottom of your sleeping bag.

The reception area closes at 10pm. After that time, you are left to your snow room or the warm lounge area. There’s not much to do in the warm room, so we recommend bringing your own games and drinks to pass the time until you feel drowsy enough to tackle the chill. There is a 20-person sauna in the warm lounge, but you need to reserve it in advance.

 

That Time We Slept In a Hotel Made of Snow – Our Experience at the Snow Village, Finland - Snow Village Finland Warm Room

 

Our Biggest Tip:

Make sure you use the toilet before going to bed. It’s a long walk between the snow rooms to the bathroom, and you really don’t want to deal with that in your thermals at 3am.

 

Practicalities of Visiting the Snow Village

The Snow Village is located in Lainio, Finland, a 25-minute drive from the Kittila airport and nearby popular ski destinations of Yllas and Levi. Guided tours are available throughout the day. There are warm log cabins available for accommodation if you would like to visit the village for longer than one night. The Snow Village can also arrange a variety of excursions, such as dog sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, and more.

 

General info:
     info@yllassafarit.fi
 
Sales and bookings:
     riikka.ilves@snowvillage.fi
     tel. +358 (0)40 416 7227
 
 Reception tel. +358 (0)40 589 0858
Restaurant tel. +358 (0)16 658 626
 
 

Would you spend the night in the Snow Village? Have you ever visited a hotel made of snow or ice?

 

Thank you to Visit Finland for making our trip to the Snow Village possible. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll LOVE:

The Streets of Stockholm: A Photo Essay

A Moose Safari via Icelandic Horse

A Wilderness Adventure in Swedish Lapland – Part 1

The Northern Lights: Everything You Need to Know About Seeing the Aurora

A Wilderness Adventure in Swedish Lapland – Part 2

Meet: Casey Siemasko


Casey Siemasko is a blogger, content marketer, and co-founder of A Cruising Couple. She has been living and traveling outside of the US full-time since 2011. She finds her life inspiration in exploring the world and seeks to find the magic in the most ordinary of places.

32 Comments

  1. this is one of the wierder things I’ve read lol, I’d still love to try it! I’d heard of the ice bars that lots of vodka companies have, but hadn’t been. I’m always up for new things though and this is definitely going in my bookmarks folder!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted…Udaipur Lake Palace Guide: “India’s Venice”My Profile

    Reply
    • Haha yea not the kind of hotel that you pass everyday! Glad it’s going in the bookmark folder 😀

      Reply
  2. I would love to spend a night in an ice hotel. That’s exactly my kind of holiday 😀
    I love how they created the lights in there and the sculptures are truly fascinating as well. But it’s just awfully expensive. I guess I’ll have to make do with the Ice Bar in Stockholm as an alternative 😉
    VanBerry @ On the Road again recently posted…Weekly Photo Challenge: MonumentMy Profile

    Reply
    • The Ice Bar is definitely a good alternative! Haha. Yea, unfortunately it is a bit pricy, especially because you are paying for the novelty of it rather than the service. But it’s worth doing once 🙂

      Reply
    • Haha definitely hear you on the once in a lifetime thing. I’m glad we did it, but I don’t feel a pressing need to do it again!

      Reply
  3. What a great experience, it doesn’t happen every day to sleep in such unique place. I’d personally like the idea of staying in one of the artistically decorated snow suites, it sounds more creative! 🙂 Thnaks for sharing guys!
    Franca recently posted…The Day We Saw An Elephant BornMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks Franca! The snow suites are definitely the best bet! It’s pretty cool getting to sleep with such creative artwork!

      Reply
  4. This sounds so cool. I have heard of ice hotels before, but a whole village! Loved your photos and details. For one that likes to sleep outside (in tents) on the snow, I think this is a must 🙂
    Angela Travels recently posted…My Ski Season through InstagramMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks Angela! If you can sleep in a tent in the cold, than this would be no problem for you! I think you would like it a lot 🙂

      Reply
  5. Wow, that looks and sounds really cool Casey! I have to admit that I have only heard of show hotels so far and not of a village, but it looks simply amazing in the images. It’s definitely a place I would like to check out as well, although I am not sure about spending the night on ice. That’s a maybe… 🙂
    Dennis Kopp recently posted…15 Ways to Travel Myanmar like a LocalMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks Dennis!! Even if you don’t spend the night, it is certainly worth checking it out for the artwork! Haha though it really wasn’t too bad in there 🙂

      Reply
  6. What an amazing and unusual place to stay, I would do it in a heartbeat – not many opportunities for sleeping in/on an icecube. It’s good to hear that it’s not too uncomfortable to sleep. I typically prefer much warmer destination (tropics, please!). 🙂
    Katie recently posted…Learning to dive in Paradise (Koh Tao, Thailand)My Profile

    Reply
    • We normally prefer the tropics for sure, too! It was so much fun visiting the Arctic, but now we’re already dreaming about the Caribbean ;-P

      Reply
  7. That is uber cool! I remember growing up as a kid in Minnesota, it seems like the Minneapolis area had a castle made out of ice each winter…but it wasn’t an entire village 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us!
    Greg@TravelBlueBook recently posted…Hostels – Not Just for Kids on a Gap YearMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wow I never knew that Minneapolis had an ice castle each year! Sounds like a fun place to grow up 🙂

      Reply
  8. Hi Casey,
    It was an amazing experience to sleep there, and the drinks in the ice bar were just what you needed to warm you right through. We were the lucky couple in the photo with you at the bar, celebrating Barrie’s 50th Birthday !
    We slept really well, seemed very strange to be so warm when your face is so cold !, but the warm juice as an alarm call is fantastic, and it was great to meet you both x

    Reply
    • It was so nice to meet you, and we are so happy to hear that you had such a wonderful time at the Snow Village! Wishing you both lots more birthday travels around the world 🙂

      Reply
  9. What an awesome experience. I’ve always wanted to visit (if not spend the night) a hotel made of ice/snow. You look quite comfy inside the sleeping bag actually! 🙂
    Zara @ Backpack ME recently posted…Go off-road!My Profile

    Reply
    • Yea it really was surprisingly cozy inside! Definitely go for sleeping in one if you get the chance 🙂

      Reply
    • Seriously! When we first saw it, we were like… ohhh. But luckily it lived up to our expectations 🙂

      Reply
    • Thanks Heather! I know- it seems like so much work to rebuild a hotel every year!

      Reply
  10. This is soooo cool! Loved reading about it. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Nice story and wonderful “once in a lifetime experience”…we were just week before you at that same icy place staying also one night. It was my birthday present for my parents…and I love that kind of present. We were staying in that dragon suite. It was nice to go morning sauna after cold night. I was quite lucky when I have to go toilet at 3 am. because I saw nice northern light on that time 🙂 …but it wasn’t nice feeling to go out from warm sleeping back in that time as you mentioned. Thanks for your stories…I heard these websites for Kuukkeli, local newspaper by Ylläs 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Marko! The Snow Village is definitely a night we won’t soon forget! That’s so cool you were able to see the northern lights!! I also had to use the restroom in the middle of the night. Unfortunately there weren’t any northern lights waiting for me, just freezing cold :-p

      Reply
  12. What an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience, guys! I’m not sure I could hack it (the chills we dealt with up in the Himalayas have made me leery of cold sleeping conditions for life!), but I loved reading about your experiences and viewing your photos. If you can believe it, my graduate advisor actually spent the first night of her honeymoon in an ice/snow hotel in Quebec! I can’t even imagine that…
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…In the Lap of Luxury at the Mekong Riverview HotelMy Profile

    Reply
    • We were a bit weary going into it as well but the briefing and the sleeping bags they have are top notch and we actually slept really well! Not exactly where I would like to spend the first night of my honeymoon though, maybe the second or third :-p

      Reply

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