A Stay At The Lainio Snow Village - Ice Hotel Finland
In recent years ice hotels have become very popular. There are now several of these that emerge from the frozen rivers high in the Northern Hemisphere each year. One of the most popular ones is situated in Finnish Lapand. The Lainio Snow Village or Ice Hotel as it is also known is built up from thousands of tons of snow and ice each year. Then come spring it melts down into nothing. In 2013 I had the privledge of visiting this ice hotel and spending a night there with my wife. So in this article I am going to show you exactly what to expect if you do indeed visit this particular ice hotel.
The Lainio Snow Village is located in the north of Finland near to the border with Sweden. The nearest airport to Lainio is Kittila and from here the transfer takes around an hour. You can actually drive to the ice hotel or you can get there on snowmobile which is a much more authentic experience. This area of Lapland is located inside the Arctic Circle so as you can imagine, the temperatures can be pretty chilly in the winter months.
The Entrance To Lainio
The Ice Hotel 2013
So what exactly should you expect if you visit the Lainio Snow Village in 2013? Well there were around 30 standard rooms and 6 suites created. There was also a large ice dome created this year which played host to a world renown Vodka competition. There is also a chapel which hosts weddings, an ice bar, a restaurant, a mini golf course and a slide. All of these are made from snow and ice.
The good news is that there are also toilets and a shower room which are underground and are heated, there is also a small living space with couches and kitchen facilitates. This is an ideal area to visit when you need to warm up. There is also a reception area with a small gift shop, another set of toilets and a warm restaurant which is open all day long. These features are permanent and the rest of the ice hotel is built around these features each year.
Every year the creators of this impressive hotel use around 1.5 million kilos of snow and around 300,000 kilos of ice. Although you would assume they use real snow, they actually make their own as the snow in the area is to powdery and so does not stick together. So they use massive machines to produce wet snow which they can then use to create the walls of the building. For the 2013 season there were some world renown snow sculptures brought in from Harbin, China and these created some incredible sights.
They usually start building the hotel around October time depending upon weather conditions and it's ready by early December. You can stay in the hotel right through till late April and then it all starts to melt.
The Ice Restaurant
Fun On The Slide
Staying At The Hotel
You can visit the hotel for a guided tour and this is a great way of looking round and admiring some of the incredible artwork. To really experience the magic of this place though an over night stay is essential. This is a wonderful experience although it does not come cheap. It will cost you around 400 Euros for a double room which includes a meal for two in the ice hotel, breakfast and transfer via snowmobile. If you want to stay in one of the suites then you are going to be looking at around 200 Euros more.
The temperature inside the Lainio Snow Village is a around -5 degrees and this is constant. The temperature outside can drop down to below -25 degrees so sometimes the inside temperature is not that bad at all. Although it may sound rather frightening sleeping in these temperatures you are provided with a warm thermal sleeping bag and a sleeping bag liner, wrap up in these and the night is not that cold. You sleep on a bed carved out of ice, but don't panic, it has a deep comfy mattress sunk into it.
Each of the rooms is located down a little snow corridor, there is not a great deal of privacy as you only have a curtain hanging at your door. In reality though you never take off your thermals so it should not really be to much of a worry. All the rooms in the ice hotel are lit by tiny little LED lights so there is always a glow in all the rooms. This can be a little odd when you are trying to get to sleep. At around 8am the staff come and wake you up with a hot cup of berry juice. Then you can go and warm up with your breakfast in the heated restaurant.
The Great Wall Suite
Me In The Eagle Suite
The Beauty Of Lainio
The reality is that spending a night in the ice hotel is not really a night of luxury. The reason you visit here is for the experience. The highlight is probably the ice bar and restaurant. Here you eat your meal sat on seats made of ice and an ice table. The food here is wonderful, you have a choice of things such as reindeer stew, meatballs and pasta, fresh fish and various other tasty dishes. There is also an extensive wine list and some nice beers served. Trying a shot of flavoured vodka from the ice bar is also a must, the drinks are served in glasses made of ice, this is a bizarre experience and one not to be missed.
When you stay over you allowed to wander around any of the rooms until around 9pm. From then on you get your room tag and you can leave your sleeping bags and other things in your own room. The six suites are very impressive, each has a theme. In 2013 there was the great wall of China room, a bald eagle room, the Viking room, smiling princess room, the ogre room and the city skyline. Each of these rooms is incredible as all the walls are carved out beautifully. The Viking room even had a ice boat as a bed.
The chapel is also a wonderful room with seating for around sixty guests. The little alter is beautifully carved from a solid block of ice and there is some amazing details in the walls. There are several weddings that take place at the Lainio Snow Village each year and these are all very memorable. Although it's only a small feature, the ice slide in 2013 was something not to missed. Although made for children, adults are welcome to have a try and after a few vodkas from the ice bar, playing with new friends on this is quite an experience.
A Caterpillar Guards The Corridor
Why Visit Lapland?
So when you visit the ice hotel what else can you expect to see and do? Well in this area there are various activities such as snowmobiling, dog sledding, reindeer safari, snow shoeing, ice fishing, ice floating, skiing, snow boarding and many other great activities.
One of the main reasons why people visit Lapland in the winter though is to see the famed Northern Lights. These have been especially active during 2013 and the increased activity is likely to continue into 2014. While we were visiting the hotel we were very lucky and the level of activity of the Aurora was very high, this meant that we were treated to an incredible display overhead. We spent hours sat out in -20 degree temperatures looking skyward.
If you visit and are hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights then your best option is to walk back down the road a little distance away from the lights around the hotel. This means the sky is darker and so it is easier to catch of glimpse of the Aurora. Northern Finland is one of the best areas in the world for seeing displays so head up here in the winter and you may just see something very special indeed.
The Lainio Snow Village is something quite magical. If you ever get the opportunity to visit this ice hotel then it comes highly recommended. Although you may not get the best nights sleep or be treated to the best luxury accommodation, the overall experience really is worth every penny.