Sometimes I get a bit blasé about destinations when I am dealing with them day in and day out and you forget how special some places are; so when I had the opportunity to travel to Swedish Lapland I had to pinch myself as I had never been anywhere so special before.
We travelled with Scandinavian Airlines via Stockholm to Lulea in the heart of Swedish Lapland and our first overnight was the ‘red cottage’ style Pine Bay Lodge with just 7 bedrooms and a hearty fire to welcome us I already fell in love with the simplicity and beauty that is so often lost with huge hotel chains. We were then served the most amazing platter of nibbles I have ever had which included my first taste of reindeer, then a wonderful, locally produced, 3 course meal (I was hooked).
A quick look for the Northern Lights (they were hiding unfortunately) on the frozen lake followed then a sound sleep in a very comfy bed. The Swedes have a fascination with their beds and sleep with a very think mattress topper on the mattress and then a duvet and heavenly pillows. Wonderful!
The following day we were taken on a snowmobile tour out to the edge of the archipelago of islands in the bay, totally frozen this time of year, you pass tiny islands with a handful of inhabitants that are usually surrounded by water but now only accessible by snowmobiles! The silence, once the engines were switched off, was enough to give you goose-bumps! Our guide cooked up a fabulous meatball lunch over a BBQ (yes at -15oC!) as we huddled around in our thermal suits. 70kms an hour whizzing across the snow, we headed home for hot chocolates and cinnamon buns!
That night we stayed back in the city of Lulea in the Clarion Sense Spa Hotel, a stunning hotel, with great Skybar, but before another comfy bed we visited the famous Ice Music Arena where an hour of Swedish music was played on musical instruments made of ice. A totally surreal evening to be seated in an igloo listening to Roxette and Abba , amongst others.
The next day was a day and night I will never forget; we met with the husky dog legend Richard first and had an introduction to his huskies and a short mush with him. Next we arrived at Aurora Safari Camp for a stay overnight in lavvu tents in the wild forest of Swedish Lapland and the Råne River Valley. Stories around the campfire, a sauna, and plenty of wine kept us entertained before bed. Your lavvu tent has a comfortable bed with an Arctic sleeping bag and chairs and a heater to keep the air warm and snug on a cold winters night. The outside temperature in winter can be anywhere from -5°C to -35°C but inside you will find it around normal room temperature due to very efficient 'in-tent' stove fires which you keep going with plenty of logs, our alarms had to be set for every 2 hours to keep them lit! What a night sleeping in full thermals, a hat and a headlamp !
Bleary eyed the next morning; we met with Lars, a Sami elder, at his reindeer farm and museum for an insight into the fascinating Sami culture. It was interesting to hear first-hand about how the Sami people live and taste yet more yummy reindeer.
This evening we stayed at one of the world’s top 10 quirky hotels: The Treehotel! Designed by individual architects the rooms are uber cool and quirky, offering great views of the wilderness and endless skies. We went moose spotting in the forest but no signs of the Northern Lights still. A fabulous hotel, truly worthy of it’s title.
So, in summary, if you are a little adventurous, and want a trip of a lifetime, great food, super hotels with excellent service, and Lapland without any of the commercial Santa hype, this kind of trip is for you. Contact me to help you put together the itinerary for you.
Top tips: It’s all about keeping warm! Wear layers of clothes made of natural fibres, no jeans or cottons. Thick wool socks are a must! Most suppliers offer free thermal suits and boots, so don’t spend a fortune on outer layers until you know what is included.
Even though its freezing cold outside it’s boiling hot indoors so be prepared to walk around hotels in your socks and under-layers.
It’s expensive to eat out, so have a good breakfast and pre pay any evening meals if you can before leaving the UK.
If you are staying at the TreeHotel make sure you pick the right room for you, some access via ladders and some can be quite claustrophobic, there will be the right room for you, so read up!
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see the Northern Lights, it just means you have to return again!