Soul-penetrating cold, perpetual wintertime darkness, and lunar-like sparseness may not be what everyone is looking for in a vacation, but these high-design hotels are for those who don’t mind putting their creature comforts on ice. Built to defy the Arctic’s elemental inhospitality with weather-resilient materials and taking structural design cues from the dwellings of indigenous populations, these boundary-breaking properties—whether it be a snow-white sanctuary on a frozen lake or a space-age mobile igloo—are all about the full experience. These are the cool-and-cozy hotels to book for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the end of the earth.
Octola, Finnish Lapland, Finland
It’s not easy to score five-star lodgings in the Arctic, but the high-spec Octola has all the warming luxuries you can ask for, including stylish, tactile interiors; massive, scenery-framing picture windows; a wood-burning sauna; and 300 hectares of private wilderness that even includes a private reindeer-herding area. Designed by a local Sámi architect, this exclusive and remote property, with its slanting roofs and timber frames, takes inspiration for its shape from the traditional laavu shelters crafted by the native populations of northern Scandinavia.
For the ultimate Arctic stay, book a night at the “northernmost hotel in the world” to be one of the few people who can claim to have slept at the North Pole. The North Pole Igloos are a group of mobile, heated pods largely made of extreme-weather-tested glass to best observe the ethereal Northern Lights overhead. As the pods are portable, their position on the isolated North Pole’s main glacier changes with the weather conditions and are only available to book in the month of April, as that’s the safest month to visit the Arctic Sea. For the rest of the year, the igloos can be found on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, only about 650 miles from the Pole.
The Arctic Hideaway, Fleinvær, Norway
On the frosty, wind-whipped Fleinvær Archipelago, there’s little to do. And that’s the whole idea behind the Arctic Hideaway (aka Fordypningsrommet), a collection of ten structures designed around the principles of total relaxation and mindfulness, as the mini village of four cabins and five social spaces (plus a bathhouse) can be used as an artists’ retreat. This Nordic masterpiece was designed as a collaboration between musician and composer Håvard Lund (who first acquired the site), TYIN architects, Sami Rintala of Ri-Eg architects, and designers Andrew Devine & Ruben Stranger.
Hotel Arctic, Ilulissat, Greenland (Denmark)
Hotel Arctic is just two and a half miles from the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes one of the world’s most active glaciers. Perched in the quaint town of Ilulissat, which is known for its crayon-colored painted wooden houses, Hotel Arctic is made up of a hotel, a brasserie, and a conference center. However, the coolest lodging options are the eight aluminum igloo cottages overlooking the iceberg-speckled Disko Bay, just a short but nippy stroll from the main hotel via a wooden boardwalk painted tomato red.
Arctic Bath, Swedish Lapland, Sweden
Nesting in the serene Lule River in Swedish Lapland on the cusp of the Arctic Circle, the Scandinavian-chic Arctic Bath hotel and spa seems to float on water in the summertime and freeze into a winter wonderland in the colder months. With a courtyard “cold bath” spa at its ringed center and 12 minimalist cabins constructed in sleek blond timber (six on water and six on land), each element of this polar palace has been purpose-built to showcase the spectacular natural setting. The property will open in January 2020 and is now taking reservations.
Svart Hotel, Glomfjord, Norway
Opening in 2021, Svart balances on wooden stilts at the foot of Norway’s second-largest glacier and namesake, the colossal Svartisen. By collecting energy from summer’s midnight sun, the ultimate aim of Svart is to be completely self-sustainable and produce as much energy as it uses over the course of its lifetime.
Basecamp Baffin, Baffin Island, Canada
Stationed in the snowy fjords just a few degrees north of the Arctic Circle on Canada’s largest island, Basecamp Baffin is an unfussy retreat designed for heli-skiing and cat skiing (guided backcountry skiing) in the untouched mountains of Baffin Island. As the world’s northernmost heli-skiing operation, this comfortable pop-up lodge can fit up to eight guests in four private domes.
From Architectural Digest