Kemi SnowCastle is downright cool
For years I’ve been enamored by the idea of a seasonal and temporary hotel made of snow and ice. I recently had an opportunity to visit one of the most well-known snow and ice structures in the world…the Kemi SnowCastle.
While the unusually warm weather and overcast skies did not help showcase the SnowCastle’s beauty in its best light, it was an experience I will not soon forget.
It’s not until you enter the SnowCastle than you really appreciate just how large the snow structure is. I was really struck by the amazing level of artistry that is around every corner—you’ll see relief art in the walls, as well as ice sculptures throughout the Castle. At one end there are two large halls with dozens of tables made of ice, each with several wooden stools and reindeer hides for restaurant patrons to sit. On the opposite end is the SnowHotel, where guests can stay the night…like I did. While there is no question the freezing temperatures make it a bit uncomfortable getting in and out of bed, it’s actually quite a cozy experience. The thick snow walls create massive insulation, and therefore the rooms are extremely quiet and peaceful. Once you get situated inside your arctic sleeping bag, which lies atop a layer of lambskin, it’s very warm and comfy. Thankfully I opted for the wake-up knock at the door, otherwise I would have continued sleeping well past check-out. As it were, I slept a solid nine hours.
Next to the SnowCastle is a warm structure where visitors and hotel guests can hang out, grab a cup of hot coca or lunch and warm up before returning to further explore the Castle. This structure also plays host for the morning breakfast for SnowHotel guests. A few hundred hards away is another facility where guests can shower, sit in a sauna or take a dip in the very large pool.
Other activities outside the SnowCastle include snowmobile and Olokolo (translation: cozy nest) tours. I took one of the Olokolo tours and it was fantastic.
Simply described, an Olokolo is like a small camper on sled rails in which a snowmobile tour guide tows you. The Olokolo is full of windows (including the roof) to ensure that no sight is missed. If you prefer warmer sleeping accommodations, you can even rent one of the Olokolo for the night verses staying in the SnowHotel. Each Olokolo nest is equipped with a heater, warm sleeping bags and soft lamb skins. With the Olokolo glass roof, you might even get to see the Northern Lights during the evening. If you are going to visit the SnowCastle, I’d recommend staying two nights…one inside the SnowHotel, the other in an Olokolo.
The SnowHotel is of course not a luxurious lodging experience, it’s more like staying at a camp site, but it is absolutely a unique and memorable experience. And, a story you’ll enjoy telling your friends and family about.
If you’ve ever stayed at the SnowCastle or a similar structure, please post a comment below and let my readers and me know what your experience was like.
Rates: 125 to 190 EUR based on day and occupancy
Phone: +358 16 258 878
Location: Kemi, Finland
Website: VisitKemi.fi/en/snowcastle (click here)
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (during the season).
Season: Late January through mid April (depending on weather).
SnowRestaurant: Open 10 am – 7 pm – Lunch is served at 12 noon and at 2 pm (reservations must be made in advance)