It isn't everyday that one gets to spend the night staring at the stars from the comfort of a reclining bed inside a heated igloo.
So I spent all my nights at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, a family-run hotel situated deep within the Arctic wilderness in Finland, doing exactly that. Most days were spent marvelling at the arresting location of the hotel and its layout but I still find it hard to truly articulate my experience. Such is the magic of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. The hotel has made it to a number of 'places to see before you die' lists and it's easy to see why.
Heated igloos and rustic log cabins dilly dally with snow igloos that boast of beds carved out of ice and unending fields of ice flirt with slanting trees entirely covered with snow. Tales of hibernating Polar Bears are narrated in hushed tones and reindeer sleigh rides are everyday business here.
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The hotel might have made it to the bucket-list of millions of travellers but it continues to be a small family-run business. Jussi, the owner, dreamt of the complex when he was left stranded in the Kakslauttanen on a fishing trip. Jussi set up a small café for travellers that gradually metamorphosed into this gorgeous property. It's extremely expensive to procure food and maintain heated igloos at sub-zero temperatures but Jussi continues to work on his dream project with unflinching passion. He now has a team in place but still manages the entire property and chats with his guests every evening. I got talking to him one evening and couldn't help but notice the way his eyes lit up every time he spoke about establishing a unique business in the midst of the Arctic Wilderness.
It was easy to spot him informing guests about the Aurora forecast every evening. On one such evening, he made me promise not to sleep a wink. "The heavens will open the doors tonight and you need to be awake for that" - I could hear his voice in my head as I started to doze off at 2 a.m. Suddenly, I spotted a streak of green light in the skies above. Within minutes, the entire sky was lit from within. The elusive Northern Lights had decided to pay Kakslauttanen a visit.
Such sleepless nights became somewhat of a ritual - every night after dinner, I would sit staring at the stars for hours. The skies were crystal clear there - it was easy to spot thousands of stars. Sometimes a flurry of shooting stars would appear out of nowhere. Then the Northern Lights - ocasionally violet, pink, & blue but mostly green. I spent the days listening to Sami folklore- tales of hunters, forest gods, and spirits in the skies. Every night, I would see this being enacted in front of my eyes. The Northern Lights - truly the world's greatest show!
Ivalo is the nearest airport and Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort offers regular transfers from Ivalo. Air France offers convenient flights from Mumbai to Helsinki. Ivalo is just a short flight away from Helsinki.
Prices for igloos start at £200 pppn and log cabins start at £150 pppn. More information on their website www.kakslauttanen.fi
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on www.bruisedpassports.com.