As of January 27, 2021, Finland’s borders are closed to foreign visitors due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic except for Finnish nationals and residents of the following countries: the Vatican, Australia, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and South Korea. A negative COVID-19 test is required prior to arrival. Take note of any border restrictions in your home country for your return prior to any travel. Please note that this blog post serves as a reference for travel later in the future. Nonessential travel is not recommended at this time.
When you close your eyes and picture Finland, you probably picture miles upon miles of serenity, snow covered forests, pink sunsets, and reindeer. The truth is, you’d be right! As someone who yearns for winter (I know, I know – I’m weird), I knew our trip to Lapland in northern Finland would be that perfect snowy escape I was looking for. For our first stop in Lapland, we had an unforgettable stay at the Arctic Treehouse Hotel that left us feeling like we had stepped into a magical world we had only dreamt about.
One thing Arctic Treehouse Hotel does right as soon as you arrive is pretty much remind you that you are not in Kansas anymore (or wherever you are from). Being off the beaten path is something I yearn for, especially being Los Angeles residents. While Arctic Treehouse Hotel is just on the outskirts of the city of Rovaniemi, you still feel like you are wonders away. This is something we learned that the Finnish take very seriously – their personal space. As someone who is ALWAYS relishing in the isolation and privacy of my personal space, I’d like to believe there’s an inner Finn in me somewhere.
About Arctic Treehouse Hotel
Located on the Arctic Circle in the town of Rovaniemi (about a 1 hour flight from Helsinki), Arctic Treehouse Hotel started as a childhood dream. The hotel really is a dream – standalone treehouses set amongst nature offering an unmatched view of snow covered trees and pink Lapland sunsets is literally a scene out of a beautiful dream.
This stunning, award-winning hotel has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler and Forbes, and it’s easy to see why. I’ve also had the honor of having my images of Arctic Treehouse Hotel appear in Harper’s Bazaar UK for their special feature on unique, luxury winter escapes.
As soon as we landed from our Finnair flight from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, we were greeted by our Lapland Luxury concierge for the duration of our trip – Dennis. Without Dennis, this trip would not have been the same. He was so enthusiastic and excited to be taking care of us during our stay at Arctic Treehouse Hotel, and he was also eager to show off the part of the country he loves so much. We were equally as eager to see what Lapland had to offer!
As soon as we pulled up to our little wooden and glass treehouse in the middle of the snowy forest, I knew I had found my heaven. That heaven continued as we entered the treehouse, since the bed faced a glorious floor to ceiling window that gave us an unobstructed view of the snow covered trees and pink Lappish sunset (at 3 pm) surrounding us. Oh yes, I was going to be very happy here!
Dining in the snow at Laavu
After settling in, we were then escorted to our private dinner experience at Laavu. This dining experience was definitely one of my favorites during our Finland adventure. After trekking about 50 feet in the snowy forest, we came upon our wooden canopy laavu, which the dining experienced is named after. Despite it being about 0 degrees, we were bundled up in our coats and blankets by the massive fire as our chef cooked us a delicious meal of homemade pea soup, steak in a blackberry sauce, and a hot chocolate dessert over the campfire. While sipping wine as the fire’s glow danced across our faces, I couldn’t have felt more grateful to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The next day, we woke up to a blissful snowfall as we enjoyed a freshly delivered breakfast in our treehouse. After that, we had to pack up our bags since Dennis would be taking them to our next treehouse for the night. He first dropped us off at Sieriporo Safaris, where we were about to enjoy a beautiful reindeer ride in the snow. We first got to meet the baby reindeer (*insert my epic squeal here*) and we got to learn a lot about the lives of reindeer as well as life as a reindeer herder in Finland. It was all incredibly fascinating, and you can tell that these reindeer are beloved and taken care of very well. Just like in Iceland, reindeer farmers let their animals roam free as much as possible, except in winter where they gather them together to make sure they are fed and survive (food is hard to find in the wild when covered in snow).
After a Shaman ceremony by the fire, we were then loaded up into our sled. Since it was still about 0 degrees outside, they layered us up in the warmest blankets imaginable. We were then led on what was possibly the most magical reindeer ride we could have ever dreamed of. For one hour, our reindeer took us through the snowy forests as the sun began to come up (at 11 am of course) and shine it’s orange and pink glow on the glistening snow. It felt like something out of an oil painting or a storybook. Tor and I barely spoke during the ride because we were both in awe of what surrounded us and where we were. After the ride, we were both speechless and just reiterated how magical it was.
After our reindeer ride in which our reindeer brought us to the entrance of Santa Claus’ Secret Forest, we were greeted by Dennis and the Guardians of the Secret Forest. Dressed in an authentic Lappish costume, our very kind Guardian introduced us to her friend – an elf. The Elf and the Guardian then blindfolded us both to have us use all of senses except sight in the forest. We then entered a wooden hut with a large fire in the center, and we were treated to a blind taste test of true Finnish delicacies. Tor was more adventurous than me, opting to eat everything placed in front of him (including bear!). During this time, the Guardian bestowed new names upon us. Despite having just met, she gave me the name “Lumi“, which means “snow” in Finnish. As someone who is OBSESSED with snow, this could not have been more fitting. She then asked us to close our eyes and select a charm out of a basket. The charm I selected means “Christmas”, which is also my favorite holiday and time of year.
The Secret Forest was definitely on par with me! When our blind taste test concluded, our Guardian and Elf introduced us to our chef who then proceeded to cook us a private lunch in the hut. After lunch, we said goodbye to our Guardian, and the Elf and Dennis led us to our next stop – the Elf Command Center. It was here where we learned how the elves work year round for their boss, Santa Claus. After some mystery and searching around the Elf Command Center, we were finally face to face with Santa himself waiting for us in his office. Despite Christmas having occurred just four weeks earlier, he still spoke to us about Christmas for later this year and of course he asked us what we wanted. I wanted to say a Spaniel named Dash, but I refrained.
Our Second, Remote Treehouse
After meeting Santa, Dennis then brought us to the Arctic Forest Spa by the lake. Here we had the spa to ourselves as we enjoyed our own private Finnish sauna experience. No crowds. Just us. After treating our skin to some delicious chocolate treatments, we spent time in the sauna warming up from our long day out in the snow. After showering and putting on cozy clothes, our chef from lunch was back at the spa to cook us a private dinner. Once dinner ended, Dennis brought us around the corner to our new treehouse for the night where our luggage awaited us.
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Our Second, Remote Treehouse
This treehouse is still a part of Arctic Treehouse Hotel, however it is about 20 minutes away from the main resort. This satellite treehouse is the only one in this spot, meaning once Dennis left us for the night, we were all alone in the forest. The thought daunted me at first, since naturally I wondered, “What if something happens?” But the staff at Arctic Treehouse Hotel were available 24/7 on Whatsapp, as was Dennis, should we need anything. But before Dennis left us for the night, he came knocking on our treehouse door to inform us that the Northern Lights had come out to play.
The Northern Lights of Lapland
We donned all of our snow gear once again, grabbed the camera and tripod, and set up camp outside in negative temperatures to catch the dancing colors in the sky. This was our 3rd time seeing the Northern Lights, as we saw them twice in Iceland just three months ago. But it doesn’t matter how many times you see them – you will always gasp at the sky like they are your biggest idols as they put on a show for you among the stars.
After a good night’s sleep in the remote treehouse, we woke up to Dennis dropping off a freshly cooked breakfast of eggs, fruit, and bread with some rich hot chocolate. We did not want to leave Arctic Treehouse Hotel. We could have easily spent another one to two nights there exploring more of what the area had to offer. This experience was certainly one we could not wait to share with our friends and with our readers, since it was so adventurous, luxurious, blissful, and unique. Even as I write this blog post, I find myself missing Arctic Treehouse Hotel and our new friend Dennis from Lapland Luxury. I guess we will just have to go back!