Finnish Lapland – Santa’s neck of the woods – is the snowglobe setting of Arctic Treehouse Hotel, a stay that’s shaking things up with out-of-the-ice-box Arctic adventures and the cosiest, coolest cabins (all built in eco-friendly style). You can swathe yourselves in furs and watch the world snowshoe by below the Midnight Sun’s painted skies or Northern Lights wispy wanderings, but do make time to heed the call of the wild: heli-skiing, husky and reindeer safaris and sauna sessions deep in the forest await.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine by one of the private outdoor fire pits
60, including three ArcticScene Executive Suites and five Arctic Glasshouse suites.
11am, but flexible for a charge of €50 an hour (till 3pm), subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from $672.96 (€605), excluding tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include a drink on arrival, porterage and a choice of Continental, full-English or American breakfast (French toast, pancakes and omelettes appear alongside trad-Finnish picks: smoked fish, muesli and the like).
Don’t neglect the drinkables in your minibar: try the hotel’s own pale ale (a collab with Arctic beer-meisters, Lapin Panimo).
At the hotel
Spa and forest sauna, swimming lake, fireplace-warmed lounge, shop, free WiFi. In rooms: furry throws, a Tivoli Audio Bluetooth radio, concealed flatscreen TV, minibar filled with local goodies, Nespresso coffee machine, kettle, air-conditioning. Seven Treehouse Suites also have a kitchenette, and each Arctic Glasshouse has a fireplace, sauna, kitchenette with an electric hob and a private deck. ArcticScene Suites each have a wellness area with a product-packed spa goodie-bag (with temple Spa products, a bath bomb and wellness drink) and eco-friendly yoga mats.
Our favourite rooms
Like Lego Architect kits and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, these Treehouses are sophisticated takes on kids’ daydreams – and there isn’t a bad one in the bunch. However, the spacious ArcticScene Suites each have a patio with a log fire, sauna and bath tub with views, so they feel more spoiling. Request a Treehouse Suite close to the main building if you want a shorter stroll back after dinner.
There’s no pool, but you can take a brisk wild swim in the icy lake by the spa (a 20-minute drive from the hotel). If that’s a touch too invigorating for your liking, temperatures rise to around 22°C come July.
The Metsäkyly spa is a 20-minute drive from the hotel, amid picturesque pines, but staff will drop you off and pick you up for free. Naturally, there’s a sauna, for all the in-the-buff birch-beating fun you desire (don’t worry, almost-never nudes: the saunas are his ‘n’ hers). When you’re sufficiently steamed, enjoy a hot drink – or a ‘sauna sausage’, if you dare – in the open-air Jacuzzi (there’s an edited wine and champagne list, too), book a Swedish massage or acupuncture session, or take a blood-pumping plunge into the lake.
Bring shoes with grip, knits and thermals – plus, strokably soft nightwear. And, don’t forget your swimsuit for the spa.
You’ll be offered mulled wine on arrival, for a literally warm welcome.
Children are welcome. One extra bed (€50 a night, for children aged 4+) can be booked in some Treehouse suites; Glasshouse Suites hold up to two extra beds, and you can fit three in ArcticScene Suites. Babysitting is available, too.
All ages are welcome, but the stay is better suited to older children who will better appreciate the wilder pursuits. Parents will struggle with prams and pushchairs after heavy snowfalls.
Seven Treehouse Suites are fitted with a kitchenette and can interconnect on request. Most have a sweet ‘nest’ bed – an even smaller treehouse. ArcticScene Executive Suites sleep three extra children; Glasshouses sleep up to six guests.
The Frozen-style scenery will captivate kids with its tobogganing hills and unique fauna – reindeer petting and husky rides will undoubtedly be a hit. For those who still believe in Santa Claus, this is the place to pitch up: stop by his magical Village and try the ‘again, again’ activities at SantaPark. Bedtime stories lit by the Northern Lights and Lappish Christmas feasts attended by your own personal elf are some of the special private experiences you can book.
Swimming here depends on whether you believe a dip in an icy lake is character-forming or not…
Families are welcome to dine in the restaurant. There’s a children’s menu, highchairs to borrow and accommodating staff.
Babysitting is available for €35 an hour (must be booked a week in advance, for a minimum of two hours). Parents will be charged for the sitter’s taxi fare after 10pm.
No need to pack
The hotel has potties, art materials and bikes to borrow. Don’t forget the Elsa costume and letters to Santa.
Baby monitors are unlikely to work in this widely spread stay. Children from ages two to 12 are welcome in the spa, too.
Nature is nurtured here; treehouses with green roofs are built in-situ using sustainable materials, eco showers have restricted hot water and hideaways are heated using natural gas, while the main building runs on solar energy. Food comes from the surroundings – often directly – and there’s a teaching kitchen for local trainee chefs.
Sit with your nose to the glass of the restaurant’s window wall, under the pine-cone–shaped pendant lights.
Slay in layers: think ski casual with a little sparkle.
Rakas Restaurant, the heart and hearth of the snowflake-shaped main building, strikes a balance between elegant new Nordic cuisine and the survivalist foragings of cable-knit-adorned mountain types. Pike perch hoiked from the hotel’s own lake is served with Lappish potatoes and white-roe dressing, reindeer is smoked and salted or drizzled in a game-y sauce, and distinctive desserts include lemon mousse with licorice and spruce-sprinkled bilberries. Join the crowd for brunch on Sunday or have an intimate chef’s dinner for two, starring whitefish ceviche and flambéed beef with reindeer-horn powder.
The lounge doubles up as a toasty bar. A large fireplace is ringed by seats with fur throws slung over them and there are comfy sofas to plump down on, and wines, chilled and mulled, and craft brews bring merriness to proceedings.
Breakfast runs from 7.30am–10.30am (8am–11am on weekends), then the restaurant opens for lunch and dinner from 11.30am–10pm.
The hotel’s cabins are sprinkled over a hillside in frigid fairy-tale land Rovaniemi, in northern Finland, in the chilled-out climes of the Arctic Circle.
Fly to Finnish capital Helsinki – direct flights run from London and New York, flights from Asia and Australia usually connect via Doha – then travel on to Rovaniemi airport (a 90-minute flight). The airport is a five-minute drive from the hotel. Private transfers can be arranged for €50 each way and an airport bus service runs to and from the hotel three times a day.
Take the VR overnight train (www.vr.fi) from Helsinki Central to Rovaniemi rail station (around 11 hours away) to wake to Christmas-card panoramas – choose from cosy private berths or bunk-beds. If travelling by day, you’ll need to change at Oulu or Tampere.
Those with sturdy tyres and an even sturdier constitution can attempt the nine-hour drive from Helsinki to the hotel – it’s pretty much a straight drive north on the E75 route. There’s free parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you don’t have a treehouse to call your own, it is tempting to go into sleepover mode, only snuffling out to roast marshmallows and drink wine by the hotel’s secluded fire pits. But, there’s plenty of frosty fun to be had – icebreakers include swimming in frozen lakes, donning a flotation suit and going aurora spotting, riding snowmobiles, or watching the world whizz by from a sled pulled by huskies. Stop by a reindeer farm to pet their surprisingly soft antlers or take a blindfolded taste-test of bear meat, berries and other Finnish delicacies in the forest – or book a fireside dinner in the snow, blindfolds optional… and if you’re feeling especially self sufficient, you can even catch your own dinner through a hole in the ice. The spa runs hot and cold, too. The city of Rovaniemi – Santa Claus’s official address – is a 20-minute drive away. When St Nick flies off to make his deliveries, we’re pretty sure he looks back at the city: it was redesigned after World War II by local architect Alvar Aalto and is now shaped like reindeer antlers, best viewed from above. Artikum and Pilke museums offer fascinating insight into science and sustainability in the Arctic – but, really you’re here to hand your wishlist to St Nick and the elves at Santa Village, then double up on Christmas cheer at SantaPark, where you can ride magic trains, visit the Ice Queen, earn your elf diploma and decorate festive cookies before meeting the big guy himself. More into natural wonders? Get up close and personal with the Northern Lights on an after-dark plane flight, or spy polar bears in Ranua Wildlife Park.
You’re unlikely to forage far from the hotel for your food, but on a day trip to central Rovaniemi you can stop for roast bear followed by birch-sap granita at Restaurant Nili, or a craft brew and moose burger with blackcurrant at Levin Panimo (Lapland’s brewery), just west of the city.
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 fantastical hotel in north Finland and unpacked their faux-furs and sense of childlike wonder, a full account of their super-natural treehouse break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Arctic Treehouse Hotelin Lapland…
If the word ‘treehouse’ alone doesn’t give you sugar-high shivers, Arctic Treehouse Hotel, in Finland’s northernmost reaches, has a sack of treats more bulging than that of neighbourhood superstar, Santa. Each cabin on stilts is sustainably built by Studio Puisto, and the Finns’ flair for turning compact spaces into snug-as-a-bug dens is evident in whitewashed woods, furry throws, leather butterfly chairs and natty bits of tech. Mother Nature’s seasonally shifting forest screensaver plays out over the floor-to-ceiling window facing your bed, so hibernation is an acceptable lifestyle choice here.But, do get a jump start on the spring-awakeners and take a short Nordic walk to the snowflake-shaped restaurant hub. Here, you can dine on Finnish flavours of bilberry, spruce and licorice, roasted and braised reindeer, and seafood fished on site – with craft ales, wines (or a glass of the world’s purest tap water) to wash them down. It’s the kind of rugged fare you’ll need to power up for snowmobiling, husky-sledding, heli-skiing, swimming in an icy lake and other sub-zero pursuits. (And shedding your clothes for a brisk birch-beating in the forest-set sauna, naturally.)
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