The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen. A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen…
Unless you are just passing through planet Earth on your way to another galaxy (in which case – hi, thanks for checking out my blog while you’re at it!) you are probably familiar with the opening line which I borrowed from “Let It Go”. What you are probably less familiar is the mysterious-sounding word luvattumaa.
That’s a shame, because Luvattumaa is an amazing hotel in the small town of Levi, located above the Arctic Circle in the Finnish Lapland – a place you never knew you needed to visit… But you do! When it comes to this hotel, cool doesn’t even begin to cover it. Why? According to the lyrics to OutKast’s hit “Hey Ya” the only thing cooler than being cool is being ice cold and this hotel has got being ice cold down to a tee… because that’s exactly what it’s made of.
I could continue these hip hop record references ad infinitum starting with Vanilla Ice, but I’m going to spare you – I was just using my pop culture knowledge to break the… well, ice. Now that we’re well acquainted and comfortable, let me tell you more about Luvattumaa. With such an impeccable sense of humour, obviously I’m a lady whose opinion is worth trusting.
As the title suggests, I was the only guest as Luvattumaa while I stayed there in early January. I visited the night before a large wedding party’s celebrations and the ice sculptors were still hard at work, adding finishing touches to everything from the snowy floors to the frozen tables. Can you imagine having an ice castle like this all to yourself?
It was equal parts amazing and terrifying! On the one hand, I was traipsing around like Olaf from “Frozen” all giddy and smiley. But on the other hand, listening to the sound of my laughter echoing down long narrow corridors was not really something I experience a lot in my small crowded bedroom in London. Either way, it was a magical experience unlike any other and one few people will ever get to experience… Which is why I captured everything on camera in the video you can watch below.
But which ever way you slice the ice cream cake, there’s no denying Luvattumaa’s charm – even its name means “promised land”. The adorable name even has a story cute enough to match… Once upon a time, Lea and Pekka received a plot of land as a wedding gift from the bride’s father. It stretched across snowy plains, decorated with dark green islands of shrubbery and a rippling belt of small hills.
But the newlyweds were underwhelmed. It seemed far from the neighbouring town of Levi and not at all like the ideal location for what they’d envisioned – a lovely hotel where they could welcome guests from all over the world and show them a little Finnish hospitality.
Cue years of searching for the perfect spot, worrying and almost giving up. Sometimes, it’s hard to see our own backyard exactly for what it is – the promised land we’ve been searching for all along. Remote enough to feel private yet not cut off from civilisation, the plot the couple once wrote off suddenly seemed perfect.
It wasn’t long before Pekka, who is a talented ice sculptor, dreamed up a fairy-tale like structure which he would build up from the ground in Sisyphus-like fashion year after year. When I visited the works were still underway, so I woke up to a jarring song of a drill chipping away at the walls around me. Instead of bemoaning the wakeup call, I got up with a big smile on my face. “How lucky am I,” I thought, “to wake up to the the sound of someone’s dreams coming to life…”
Aside from telling a tale of passion and perseverance, this short anecdote highlights one of the things I loved most about this hotel – the fact that it’s family-run. I certainly much prefer supporting a small business than justifying the existence of a heartless conglomerate!
Speaking of business, let me tell you a few technicalities about Luvattumaa. There is one issue in paradise and it’s the lack of working WiFi in this place. However, as much as I enjoyed my stay at the ice hotel it’s not a place where you’d want to stay for more than two nights if that… And if this blogger right here managed to spend a night without updating her Facebook page, odds are so can you.
As for sleeping arrangements, you get a warm duvet (or four of them if you’re me) and a sleeping bag which can withstand temperatures of up to -20 degrees Celsius. The place is kept at a comparatively toasty -5 degrees, so this should provide sufficient cover. Despite wearing thermal underwear and being wrapped up like a delicious burrito I must admit I felt slightly cold all night, but a) I was slightly ill and b) it was well worth it for the experience!
If you are worried about showers at the like, don’t fret. There is a warm section right before the entrance into the actual ice castle where you can go to the toilet, drink warm tea or read a book without your fingers turning an unhealthy shade of purple.
As is to be expected the place is very popular with honeymooners and wedding parties, but if you enjoy unique experiences, aren’t terrified of the cold, like the movie “Frozen” or want to have a cool story to tell your friends back home then you should definitely consider visiting Luvattumaa if you are in Levi. And you should visit Levi, because it’s amazing. But I’ll tell you about that another time…
Rates start at about £150/$230 per night and include a delicious breakfast with baked goods made on site by Lea and Pekka. It was so amazing that I almost wept when I realised I wouldn’t be able to finish it all. Just look at those delicious sugary doughnuts!
Never has being frozen, abandoned and all by myself felt more magical to me than during my short stay at Luvattumaa. If you thought Elsa’s castle in “Frozen” was enchanting, just wait till you see this place.
Have you ever stayed at an ice hotel? Did you enjoy it? Would you dare brave the cold for a whole night? And finally, have you been singing “Let It Go” while reading this article? If not, go back to the start and try again…
Disclaimer: My stay was arranged by the Levi Tourist Information office in exchange for an honest review. No blankets were harmed in the process of transforming my sleeping bag into a tiny palace of warmth… I think.