Whether you’re taking a last minute trip to bask in the midnight sun, or are already planning a winter getaway, you should consider staying in some of the best-designed hotels in Scandinavia. The region is known for its thoughtful design, blending seamlessly with its spectacular surroundings. At these hotels, you can enjoy fresh air and pine forests of the Arctic Circle, the eerie light of aurora borealis glowing through your window, or an industrialist chic atmosphere only a few miles from Stockholm. No matter what, we guarantee your stay at one of these seven epic design-centric hotels will be one to remember.
1. Juvet Landscape Hotel — Valldal, Norway
This stunning and remote hotel — recently the star location of creepy sci-fi film Ex Machina — has nine standalone rooms built to complement and enhance the natural landscape. Seven double rooms in a Scandinavian modernist style resemble glass cubes on stilts, with views of rivers, rolling hills, and a peaceful gorge.
If you have a group of more than three guests, you can book space in the old farm buildings, which is also where communal meals are offered nightly. A unique combination of glass walls, dark concrete, and bright colors make up Juvet’s spa building, where you can take a steam bath or enjoy the outdoor hot tub.
All rooms have wifi, although most of them don’t have curtains, as that might interfere with your landscape experience. Since Norway can get up to 20 hours of sunlight in the summer months, ask the staff for a complimentary eye mask if you’re there during the summer season.
2. Rantalinna — Ruokolahti, Finland
This lakeside Art Nouveau boutique hotel is only 30 minutes from the Russian border and used to belong to a Russian tsar, the Romanov Prince Oldenburg. The lakeside property is technically a castle and is furnished with antiques, gilt mirrors, and plush flocked wallpaper.
The property has three saunas available for guests; one smaller in the castle, and two down by the lake. The larger of the lakefront saunas seats 25 people and is heated with birchwood cut from the nearby forest. In true Finnish fashion, you can have meals brought from the onsite gourmet restaurant, or have them cook a whole lamb in front of you at a special grill.
3. ION Adventure Hotel — Nesjavellir, Iceland
The tagline for this hotel is “where everything meets nothing.” ION Adventure Hotel is classic Brutalist architecture set against a backdrop of haunting lava fields. Titular adventures include trips to UNESCO World Heritage site, Thingvellir National Park, horseback riding on Icelandic horses, and dry-suit diving the impossibly clear waters of Silfra fissure.
The hotel’s interior echoes the stark and beautiful landscape, with rough wool throws, driftwood, and floor-to-ceiling windows showing the jagged slopes of Hengill volcano. The onsite restaurant features authentic Nordic cuisine like grilled arctic char and skyr brulée. In the evening, cozy up at the Northern Lights Bar for a specially-created cocktail and a perfect view.
4. Treehotel — Harads, Sweden
If you have ever longed to fall asleep being rocked in the branches of a giant pine tree, look no further than Treehotel. Located near the far north Swedish town of Luleå, you can see the northern lights from your bed in one of the seven treetop rooms, or enjoy cozy 1930s atmosphere in the guesthouse.
Each room was designed and built by a different Swedish architect and hovers between 13 and 19 feet off the ground. Some have dramatic walkways through the forest while others, such as the aptly named UFO or Bird’s Nest, must be entered by a ladder. Depending on the time of year, you can go on a moose safari, visit a local Sami village inside the Arctic Circle, or enjoy horse-pulled skiing (it’s exactly what it sounds like). The Treehotel welcomes children and offers a range of activities, as well as a free stay for anyone two and under.
5. Dragsholm Slot — Vindekilde, Denmark
Moving away from the sleek lines of classic Scandinavian minimalism, this baroque, 13th-century restored castle manor offers elegance and comfort. Located on the rugged coast of the North Sea, the property has a huge variety of rooms available and two onsite restaurants. One of the restaurants is run by a previous sous chef at Noma.
The countryside around the castle has been cultivated into a full working farm, golf course, and relaxing activities such as herb walks and flower arranging are offered. You can enjoy a multi-course New Nordic menu, then go for a dip in the onsite heated pool, or set up some clay pigeon shooting to complete your stay.
6. Steam Hotel — Västerås, Sweden
Almost painfully chic, this industrial romantic hotel is a renovated steam power plant on the bank of Lake Mälaren. The rooms and common spaces are a mix of overstuffed armchairs and sofas with rich gold accents, and bare wood beams punctuated with steam pipes and turbines.
There’s an enormous spa, with traditional Swedish cold and hot pools for skin-tightening baths, as well as more conventional spa treatments like wraps and scrubs. The building also has a restaurant and two bars, each with their own specialties. The top floor has an almost 360 degree view of the nearby lake, while the middle floor bar serves on-demand sashimi and cocktails. Next door is Sweden’s only water park, in case you’re feeling adventurous, or you could just paddle around the lake.
7. LumiLinna SnowCastle — Kemi, Finland
What could be more unusual than a hotel that melts every spring and gets built fresh every winter? The SnowCastle, tiny Kemi’s biggest draw, is dramatically illuminated with inset lights and ornate snow carvings that remain firm in the -5 degrees Celsius temperatures in every room. Single rooms, suites, and dorm-style rooms with multiple beds are all available.
The SnowCastle is one of few ice and snow hotels that is south of the Arctic Circle, which means the outside weather is milder than in some other locations…although you’re advised to bring layered clothing at all times. No saunas or hot showers are available, although guests can receive access to them at a nearby conventional structure that won’t melt while you take a bath. The surrounding SnowCastle complex includes an art gallery, theatre, and ice adventureland for kids, plus an ice cream bar with delicacies made from — you guessed it — more snow.