Style

Float on

Setting

Luminous Swedish Lapland

There are few things that actually have to be seen to be believed, but Arctic Bath, a floating hotel in Swedish Lapland, is one of them. It’s surrounded by the type of frosty dreamscape that might prompt you to do outlandish things, like swim in frigid water (and actually enjoy it), make friends with a reindeer or whizz through frozen forests on a husky-drawn sled. You can also take the opportunity to go slow, staying cosseted in your hyper-hygge cabin – each with pale timbers, soft pastel colours and modern Scandi furniture – making the occasional dash to the hot tub for a soak under nacreous skies.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

One Kerstin Florian spa product a person

Facilities

Photos Arctic Bath facilities

Need to know

Rooms

12, including three suites.

Check–Out

11am. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Also

Arctic Bath was originally conceived as a floating sauna for guests of fellow Smith spot Treehotel; the hotels are just 10 minutes from each other by car, so you can twin the two for a design-themed break.

Hotel closed

The hotel closes from mid-April to mid-June (exact closing dates vary annually). In 2020 it'll be open from 21 November and will close on 10 April.

At the hotel

Open-air plunge pool, spa, sauna, steam room, hot tub, and free WiFi. In rooms: heated floors, minibar, wood-burning stove, and tea- and coffee-making kit.

Our favourite rooms

There’s a tough decision to be made here: water or land? The stilted land cabins are spread over two floors with a loft-like layout: a spiral staircase leads to a mezzanine bedroom and there are dramatic double-height windows. On the shore, the free-floating water cabins – connected to land by a walkway – are locked in place by the ice in winter and buoyed by the river in summer. Things are a lot cosier in here (be prepared to snuggle up), but they come into their own in summer when the water warms up and you can dive in straight from your private deck.

Spa

The whole hotel is dedicated to wellness in an extraordinary setting, and experiences run hot and cold – literally, as you move from the toasty sauna to the ice-cold river. Plus, soothing treatments (massages and facials) use products by Swedish eco-friendly and vegan skincare line Kerstin Florian.

Packing tips

You won’t be able to wear your own swimsuit, so leave it at home. Instead, you’ll be provided with an Arctic Bath-branded one at check-in (there’s a range of sizes), and it’s yours to keep; they’re chemical free and made from organic cotton to avoid polluting the river. What you will need are sturdy boots and a very warm coat in winter; wool layers, a raincoat and thick socks in autumn and spring; jeans and a jumper in summer.

Also

All public areas and one water cabin have been adapted for wheelchair users.

Children

All ages are welcome, but the hotel is best for adventurous teenagers who’ll enjoy snowmobile and fatbike excursions. The set menu isn’t ideal for picky palettes (unless they clamour for moose-heart marrow at home).

Eco‐friendly

The hotel is committed to a light touch on its Lapland landscape – all the cabins were built from sustainably sourced timbers from the surrounding area (and no trees were felled to make space for development); the land cabins are elevated so as not to damage the ground underneath; all produce used in the restaurant is local, seasonal and organic; and every guest is issued a pollutant-free swimsuit to protect the river.

Food and Drink

Photos Arctic Bath food and drink

Top Table

Ask for a table near the open kitchen so you can see the chefs at work.

Dress Code

Bring a cheery Fair Isle jumper and a pair of jeans; that’s as dressy as it gets here.

Hotel restaurant

Ingredients for the five-course set dinners in the restaurant change daily to give a true taste of the Arctic and a chance to sample indigenous Sámi cooking techniques. The chefs hand-pick organic, local and seasonal produce from the surrounding area: reindeer, moose and arctic char are seasoned with cloudberries, lingonberries or dried herbs and served with gakkhu (a Sámi flatbread) and smoked butter. 

Hotel bar

Pull up a stool at the small bar in the lobby for a locally-made beer or glass of wine.

Last orders

Breakfast is served from 8am to 10am. The bar closes at 1am.

Room service

There’s no room service, so help yourself to wine, soft drinks and snacks from your minibar.

Location

Photos Arctic Bath location
Address
Arctic Bath
Ramdalsvägen 10
Harads
96024
Sweden

Arctic Bath floats on the Lule River in Swedish Lapland, just south of the Arctic Circle.

Planes

The closest airport is Luleå, about an hour’s drive (85km) from the hotel – there are daily flights to and from Stockholm; private transfers can be arranged for SEK1,850 each way.

Trains

You can take the scenic SJ sleeper train from Stockholm to Boden station, around an hour’s drive from the hotel; private transfers can be arranged for SEK1,000 each way.

Automobiles

If you plan to explore more, a car will come in handy – rent one at Luleå airport; there’s free parking on-site when you arrive.

Worth getting out of bed for

Are you ready to take the plunge, to brave a full-body dunk in an icy river? Don’t worry, you won’t have to dive right in. First, kindly therapist Nina – as warm and welcoming as the water is not – will guide you through the ‘spa ritual’ (included in every stay). It’s a soothing series of steps that includes a shower, a sauna, a guided meditation and aromatherapy. Then, feeling prepared both mentally and physically, it’s time to climb down those icy stairs and actually submerge yourself – whether you manage 10 seconds or five minutes in the water, the result is a feeling of smug invincibility that lingers for the rest of your stay. 

And that’s far from the only adrenaline surge on offer here: in winter, you can tear across the untouched landscape on a sled pulled by huskies, pass through pine forests (while spotting moose and reindeer) on a snowmobile tour, go ice fishing with a local guide or fatbiking over snowy meadows and frozen rivers. Keen photographers with their heart set on capturing Aurora Borealis can join adventure photographer Håkan Hjort on a Northern Lights photography tour (wide-angle cameras and tripods are included in the price). 

Come summer, when the ice has melted and the evenings are long, you can fish for salmon or trout, go hiking in a nature reserve with a Sàmi guide, go horse riding at a nearby ranch or brown-bear spotting with a professional guide (from the safety of an elevated hideaway).

For a more mellow outing, visit the local village of Harads for a history lesson and a cosy fika (afternoon tea) break.

Reviews

Photos Arctic Bath reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this otherworldly spa hotel in Swedish Lapland and unpacked their snow boots and down coats, a full account of their adventurous break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Arctic Bath in Norrbotten County… 

Seeing Arctic Bath for the first time is surreal – the architectural marvel rises out of the Lule River in Swedish Lapland as if conjured straight from George R. R. Martin’s imagination. We visited in winter, when the doughnut-shaped main building – looking like an enormous eagle’s nest with its haphazard crown of tree trunks – and six water cabins were frozen in place. When the temperature rises, these structures, connected to the land by long docks, will all float. But, with the river ice so thick that you could safely drive a truck over it (so the staff told us), it was hard to imagine that day ever arriving. Not that we were in any hurry to speed up time – Arctic Bath is magical in any season: in winter, you can speed through snowy forests on a husky-drawn sled, search the vast northern skies for Aurora Borealis flares, or just cosy up in your sleek Scandi-chic cabin, enjoying the silence. In summer, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the near-constant daylight: swimming, horse-riding and hiking through open meadows. No matter when you visit, though, a few things are constant: deliciously steamy saunas, inventive five-course feasts in the restaurant, and the awe-inspiring landscape, home to reindeer, moose and bears. Oh my.