The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are natural light shows in the Earth's polar regions, caused by charged particles colliding with the atmosphere, emitting beautiful, colourful patterns in the night sky. Lapland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden are where you'll find them, but which hotels in these places offer the luxury of watching the celestial display from the comfort of your bed?
We've chosen our favourite remote hotels that allow the best views of the northern lights, from Arctic escapes to cosy lodges overlooking some of Northern Europe's finest lakes. Our selections also offer gourmet restaurants that celebrate local flavours, as well as spas, and immersive outdoor activities such as hiking, snowshoe tours, and dog sledding.
Nestled deep within the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Wilderness Hotel Inari is in the perfect spot for northern lights enthusiasts. Its geographic advantage at 68 degrees north latitude places it in the heart of the Aurora Zone, where the elusive lights frequently grace the night sky. Also, there's minimal light pollution in the hotel's remote location, so your views of the lights are crystal clear. The hotel is made up of a selection of unique glass-roofed igloos, letting you witness the northern lights from the comfort of your bed. Expert guides lead nightly expeditions, increasing your chances of catching this natural marvel, while also imparting knowledge about the lights' science and cultural significance.
Beyond the auroras, the hotel offers a myriad of Arctic activities, from husky sledding to cultural immersion in the indigenous Sami traditions.
Apukka Resort is in Apukka, just 15 minutes drive from Lapland's capital, Rovaniemi. Its signature Aurora Cabins glass igloos, which can accommodate couples or small families, offer a cosy vantage point to watch the lights dance across the night sky. In winter, you needn't worry about snow and ice blocking your view, as all windows are heated, melting away any obstructions.
The hotel offers northern light excursions in both autumn and winter. As the resort sits between two lakes, autumn excursions offer the bonus of the so-called Double Aurora phenomenon. This happens when Aurora arches are reflected to open water, and you can simultaneously see the northern lights on the sky and the water surface. However, in winter, the nights are longer, so you have more time to chase the lights. The hotel's professional guides lead you across the snow by husky carriage, horse carriage, or car.
Perched on the lip of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, Greenland's Hotel Arctic places you in an extraordinary setting to see the northern lights. The Icefjord is home to one of the largest and most active glaciers in the world, so you have something pretty magnificent to gaze at while you're waiting for the lights. Dotted across the snow, the hotel's Aurora Cabins are thoroughly heated, and defined by glass walls and ceiling windows, so any flicker of green in the sky will be visible from your bed. The northern lights make their appearance in Greenland between mid-September to late March, so be sure to book your cabin for then.
Ilulissat itself is a marvel. Surrounded by icebergs, the colourful buildings shine out from the snow. Pay a visit to Knud Rasmussen’s birthplace, and its museum, or browse the shops for a souvenir - you'll find lots of Greenlandic handicrafts and sealskins in modern designs. Stop for a snack at a café or restaurant to taste some local specialties. With a stay at Hotel Arctic, you can take a boat trip out to the Icefjord, or enjoy a helicopter ride over it - or you can dog sled around town like the locals!
Located east of Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, Hotel Grimsborgir resides in the heart of the Golden Circle, the most scenic of all Iceland's famous road routes. The glistening River Sogid rolls out ahead, and luscious hills loom in the distance, enveloping you in the country's most spectacular natural beauty.
The northern lights often make an appearance in this remote location, and the lack of light pollution allows them to shine all the brighter. You can request a wake-up call if the lights are spotted in the sky, instead of waiting for them yourself. The hotel's rooms and suites come with a balcony or terrace, so you don't have to travel too far from your bed to witness the lights in action. Aurora Seasons last from late August until early April in Iceland, which means you can visit when it's still relatively warm and still catch the lights.
Nothing can immerse you in Norway's winter quite like Snowhotel Kirkenes, the only hotel in the world made completely of snow and ice. This might sound chilly, but overnight you're given incredibly cosy sleeping bags to keep you warm, on top of the super-warm clothing you will have brought with you. With your comfort cared for, all you need to do is embrace the magic of the experience - the intricate carvings in your rooms, the magnificent ice sculptures, and the fairytale feel that pervades the hotel.
From September to March, the hotel hosts various northern light hunts, taking you far from the light pollution, east towards the Russian border, west towards Finland, or south into Pasvik Valley. Where exactly you venture to depends on the aurora forecast. With 200 aurora nights per year, it's definitely possible to see them!
Alternatively, you can wait for the northern lights to come to you at the hotel, and stay in one of the unique Gamme cabins, set in the hotel's surrounding wilderness. Their design is inspired by the traditional hunting and fishing huts, "gamme", that are found in Lapland. The cabins have a large glass front door through which you can watch the lights, and they're open all year round, right through the Aurora Season in Norway, which is from September to March.
Located in Northern Finland, just 8 km from the famous Ruka Ski Resort, Magical Pond presents an array of modern, Scandinavian-style igloos. They're designed for your comfort and, of course, with huge windows, for admiring the northern lights. Their unusual shape puts you within touching distance of the trees, as if you are out there in the Finnish wilderness. Magical Pond uses local and organic products in its igloos, and elsewhere, such as handmade dishes from Pentik and Iittala, the bed linen, the wooden sinks, and many other products, so every part of your accommodation is authentically Finnish.
When you're not gazing at the skies, the hotel offers plenty of other activities to keep you entertained. Explore the local towns on a fatbike, the ideal ride for snowy terrain, or put your snowshoes on and hike across lesser-known paths. Out on the pond, you can try out the hotel's SUP-boards, or climb aboard a rowing boat. This is a great way to burn some energy before relaxing in the soothing Finnish Sauna, chatting in The Lounge with an Arctic cocktail, or dine at the intimate Hut Restaurant Kataja. Here you can relish a three-course meal that shows off local flavours, and pair it with your choice from a range of carefully selected wines.
Finland's Aurora season extends from September until mid-April, so be sure to book your trip during this time.
Arctic Bath offers a transformative wellness journey amid Swedish Lapland's pristine wilderness, where the serene surroundings elevate your sense of tranquillity and rejuvenation. Every day brings a fresh itinerary to aid your relaxation, with all kinds of spa treatments, from deep tissue massages to facials, along with two dry saunas, two outdoor Jacuzzis, and an open-air cold pool.
The northern lights seem a natural addition to all the splendour here, and you can spot them from your floating cabin out on the Lule River. Complete with an outdoor deck, these cabins are designed for you to kick back and admire the views. The land suites and cabins draw you back from the lake, letting you admire it in its entirety and, with large glass windows, they offer equal opportunity to see the northern lights. They can be sighted as early as August here, disappearing again in March, so an autumn or winter getaway will heighten your chances of catching them.
If the northern lights are calling your name, speak to one of our Travel Specialists today. We're here to help you book a stay at your desired hotel, right in the thick of nature, with incredible views of the sky's mesmerising light show.