This is a weird post to write. Looking back at my photos it looks like Finnish Lapland is as magical a place to visit as any other I post about, but my experience was overall a negative one. I wouldn’t dream of writing a post slating a country or area, or even type of holiday as it’s very subjective and I can’t stress enough that as expected, Finland and more specifically Lapland are absolutely beautiful places. However, the hotels we stayed in -which are World renowned, just this morning I saw it featured on Forbes- completely ruined it and a quick glance at TripAdvisor shows that I’m far from on my own in feeling that way.

Lapland is truly wilderness. Nothing but Arctic forests span for miles, with Russia just an hour to the left and Sweden and Norway to the right. Above, Finnmark in Northern Norway is all that sits above Lapland. In terms of latitude, you can’t go a lot further North on mainland Europe. I love Arctic scenery, but it’s fair to say there’s not much to do in Lapland (unless you ski, then in fairness you could do that). A few roads and trails are carved out but the snow outside of that is so deep you can’t wander off into the forest. None of this is a complaint, I went there expecting exactly that, however my reason for explaining this in detail is to explain why the hotels played such a critical part in the trip.

With nothing but forestry near by, you need to rely more on your hotel. We tend to skimp a lot on accommodation when away as we know it’s just a place to lay our heads and we’ll be out exploring all the time. I usually grab sandwiches and fast food as vegetarian options are often limited and generally the food and hotel play a background role in our time away.

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Knowing there wouldn’t be anything around, we decided this time to go for far more expensive hotels, which had for a long time been on my travel ‘bucketlist’. The infamous glass igloo hotels you’ve probably seen photos of: Kakslauttanen and Muotka.

I won’t go into the full rant of my issues with both these hotels, but will summarise by saying that a lack of competition in the area (you’re quite literally in the middle of nowhere) has made them insanely greedy. Costs are cut at every possible step, to the point where I was longing for the comfort of the airport hotel we stayed in a few nights before in Helsinki. The food was horrendous (think prison slop) and this is coming from someone who ate at service stations for 11 days whilst doing our Iceland road trip.

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Nothing was included in our eye wateringly expensive room rate and everything was an opportunity to try and up-sell. Trapped away from many other options, especially on the first day before we had been able to get out and find alternatives, you really did feel as if you had no other choice. I overheard the mumblings of many other disappointed guests who had come as a package and I really did sympathise, as at least we had our car.

Anywhere else Arctic we’ve been, they regularly have to call trips off for weather. Our hotels were more than happy to take people Northern lights hunting for 2 hours at €150+, despite there being a poor forecast for the Aurora and heavy cloud. A quick look at the forecasts and a chat with the independent tour operators (who weren’t running their trips) showed how futile that would be, yet they went out each night. We didn’t do any activities but were gobsmacked to see that to visit Santa in Kakslauttanen would cost hundreds of Euros and for a private visit, they wanted €500. That just sums up the hotels we stayed in to a tee.

On our last night we changed our accommodation at Kakslauttanen to sleep in a log cabin as we wanted a decent night’s sleep and it was very cold (-20°C at points!). The bed felt like sleeping on concrete and whilst there was a huge fireplace, they wanted €50 for wood for it. €50 … For wood … In the middle of quite literally nothing but forest. Had I known it was so valuable I would have bought some of ours from home to flog.

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So, in a nutshell, whilst Lapland was very scenic and I loved the snow, with only 4 hours of daylight during the Polar night period we were forced to be trapped in our extremely over-priced, basic hotel rooms (yes, the glass windows are nice. No, they unfortunately didn’t make up for everything else or justify the cost) with no wifi and food so bad I skipped some meals and somehow managed to lose weight whilst there.

My reason for posting about how much of a let down the hotels are, is because I feel they get so much credit for the pretty photos, people overlook a lot. We go away regularly and I always do my research before booking a hotel, but on this occassion as it’s so renowned somehow I just didn’t and we really paid the price for it. Never again!

If you’re thinking of taking your kids, I would seriously read the bad reviews on Trip Advisor. It’s a huge money making thing and very inauthentic for want of a better word. As far as I was concerned growing up, Santa lived at the North pole anyway!

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To prove that I’m not just in a miserable mood and being pedantic, you can read about my recent trip to Svalbard where there was NO light at all for the entire visit and we couldn’t leave the settlement because we don’t own a gun and there are literally polar bears. Hiring a car would be a waste of time as there are only 3 main roads in the settlement and then you would need a snowmobile. If that’s not isolation, then I don’t know what is, yet we had the most amazing time. Our hotel -The Raddison Blu Polar Hotel- was a fraction of the cost of this, did amazing hearty food you could fill up on casually (but also offered fine dining if you’re into that) and acted as the perfect base.

Helsinki was awesome and somewhere I would like to return, but sadly Lapland was way too commercial for me and not somewhere I would visit again.

In the interest of balance however, some points about the holiday I did enjoy:

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1. The Arctic Wilderness Vibes

2. Being so far North

3. Driving to Norway (it was 3 hours away so we figured we would go for a mini road trip).

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4.The snow & ice

5. Sleeping under the stars (well clouds).

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6. Intermittent reindeer trying to kill us (you never know when one will decide to run across the road).

I’ve learned that I will never trust a reputation of a perceived ‘bucket list’ thing to do and instead will always do lots of research and DIY it where possible. Lapland was very beautiful, but sadly our time there was marred by the hotels.

  • Aww reading about this is such a shame – it’s an ideal place but horrible when people capitalise on an experience. I think paying for wood is a freaking p— take! If I stayed in a hotel I wouldn’t expect them to provide a cold room and charge extra for heating! It should be part of the cost!

    Mel ★ http://www.meleaglestone.co.uk

    • Amy

      Totally! It was such an expensive hotel too you would think the basics would be covered but sadly it seemed greed was the main priority.

  • Gosh I can’t believe how bad it was! It’s crazy because my other half and I were so close to booking a room at one of these fancy hotels but decided to just stay around Helsinki and Turku instead, and I’m so glad we made that decision! It’s a shame because Lapland looks beautiful and yet the hotel was the complete opposite…

    Lizzie Bee // hellolizziebee.com

    • Amy

      Ah that’s crazy, I think you 100% made the right decision though. I loved Helsinki and can’t wait to go back but sadly Lapland meant relying a lot on hotels and the two we stayed in were awful <3

  • What a shame about the hotels! I loved reading your honestly though as I have thought about booking this/ similar SO many times. Your photos do look gorgeous though but what a shame! x

    • Amy

      It was a real shame! I felt horrible writing a negative post because normally we would have a great time whatever but I couldn’t write about it without saying some of the bad aspects. Thank you <3

  • Claire Cavanagh

    My sister’s planning a Lapland trip at the end of this year so I’ll definitely send her this to read first! Such a shame that hotels treat guests like that when you’re already paying so much to be there. Thanks for sharing though 🙂

    Claire | Vanity Claire xx

    • Amy

      Ah, I hope she has better luck than we did! Totally <3

  • Yiotou_La

    It is unbelievable how much everything costs and the extra money you have to pay. In the last hotel we stayed here in my country, we paid Eur10 for wood and they gave us a huge pile of wood, it would last us for a whole week but we stayed there for a night!!! Such a huge difference in price and it is such a shame they take advantage of their beautiful location.

    Yiota
    PinkDaisyLoves

    • Amy

      It’s such a shame Yiota! I really want to visit Greece as I’ve still never been and the white buildings and blue water just look incredible. <3

      • Yiotou_La

        You should totally visit a greek island in summer, it doesn’t matter which one as each island has its own beauties and the beaches are amazing! Cyprus is also great for summer (I always feel lucky I live here) but I love to get away for my summer holidays as it gets overcrowded in July and August!

        • Amy

          I’ll have to pick your brain some time! x

  • It’s so disappointing when things like this happens. Your pictures are gorgeous but I can totally understand why and how hotels can ruin everything! Least you have experienced it and know for your next trip that it’s all about the research. 🙂 xxx

    Rach | http://doublejointedgirlandherdog.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Amy

      It really is! I’m glad we experienced that part of the World and it’s another one off my Arctic circle list but yeah, what a pain haha.

  • It looks like such an incredible place. You took so many stunning photos, it’s definitely on my travel bucket list but such a shame about the hotel xxx

    • Amy

      Thanks Gemma! It was a real shame x

  • I love Lapland! Your photos are beyond incredible x

    • Amy

      Thanks Laura x

  • Your photos are beautiful, but €50 for wood? How ridiculous. It sounds very similar to when we went to Antigua. We couldn’t leave the resort and they took full advantage of that.

    Roxie | thebeautifulbluebird.com

    • Amy

      Ah that’s such a shame, I think when you’re kind of stuck in a place it’s an opportunity to make the hotel amazing not worse but seemingly it’s a tactic used in some places! x

  • Karen Williams

    Awe no. Always wanted to go. The little pods are so super cute.

    Karen xx
    http://www.jinksybeauty.com

    • Amy

      Thanks Karen <3

  • Makeup Musings

    Wow I’m so jealous! This looks absolutely amazing! Your so lucky to have gone! Great post Hun ☺️

    Annie | http://www.musingsofamakeupjunkie.com
    xxx

    • Amy

      Sadly it wasn’t the best trip but I can’t deny it’s a really beautiful place 🙂

  • Looks like you had the most magical trip. I went to Lapland a few years back and there is something so special about being there. We went for Christmas and did a few excursions whilst we were there and I would love to go back!

    Sophia Meola | A Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

    xx

    • Amy

      Ah it’s interesting to hear you loved it! Maybe we were just unlucky haha <3

  • That’s a shame things didn’t go quite as well as you had hoped, it does look stunning though but not a place I would even consider visiting although I am very intrigued by it

    • Amy

      Thanks Cassandra!

  • Amy

    I don’t think so to be honest! Thanks lovely <3

  • Georgia Hathaway

    Sorry you didn’t have the greatest experience but your photos are absolutely beautiful.

    Georgia x
    http://www.georgiahathaway.co.uk

    • Amy

      Thanks Georgia <3

  • Oh wow, the photo’s are stunning! And don’t get me started on that beautiful sunset. Have a lovely weekend 🙂

    Trishna xx

    tipscapsule.blogspot.com

    • Amy

      Thanks Trishna x

  • These photos are absolutely stunning! I love the lighting and the colours so much it is very gorgeous x http://www.bauchlefashion.com/2017/02/electric-colour.html

    • Amy

      Thanks Heather x

  • Oh this is such a shame. I visited Finnish Lapland two years ago, and staged in the Saaga Hotel in Yllas and it was hands down one of the best trips I’ve ever had. Right on the piste, rooms were amazing and had their own sauna, food was a good mix and lots for vegetarians too. Not far to walk in to the forest to see the Northern Lights. We saw them every night and didn’t need to pay to go on a trip! Trips and items not upsold, a few shops you could get to and the supermarket wasn’t far in Akaslompolo. Definitely worth investigating if you ever want to go back 🙂

    Kate
    http://www.adventuresofkate.co.uk

    • Amy

      Great to hear you had a better time! Sounds like a totally different experience.x

  • I feel so bad that you had a bad experince. 🙁 I’m so lucky that my mother-in-law has a cottage in ivalo so that we get to experience ‘the real’ lapland in our own cottage in the middle of the forest. Of course it’s different having to stay in a hotel and especially in a bad one. Happy to hear that you’d still like to visit Finland again – at least in Helsinki you have a lot to do and see and there are more hotels that are probably better than these two. 🙂

    P.S. Beautiful photos!

    x Charlotta
    http://charlottaeve.com

    • Amy

      Ah wow that sounds amazing, I can imagine that would be so magical. Helsinki was an awesome place so definitely somewhere I would like to return – I’ll hit you up for recommendations when we do :D. Thank you! x