Sleep under the Northern Lights: 9 hotels with fantastic vistas

To stand under the star-studded sky of the Arctic and watch the ethereal dance of the Northern Lights is to witness nature’s most spectacular light show, the kind of phenomenon that seems out of this world…

Also known as Aurora Borealis (Dawn of the North), these shifting celestial lights are the result of electrically charged particles emanating from the sun reaching the earth’s magnetic field. The poles are where the field is weakest, which is why the further north you go, the better a chance you have of seeing them.

We’ve come up with a list of several of the best hotels from which to see the spectacle of the Northern Lights.

Read more: Colourful night skies: the best places to see the Northern Lights

ION Hotel – Selfoss, Iceland

The Aurora Borealis shines over the ION Hotel.

The Aurora Borealis shines over the ION Hotel. © Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson / ARCTIC IMAGES

Less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, the modern minimalist structure of the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel stands tall amidst the craggy terrain of lava fields.

Close to the Thingvellir National Park and the famous Geysir hot springs, the hotel organizes everything from rafting to glacier trekking to diving in the Silfra Fissure, the rift between the American and Eurasian continents! When it comes to watching the night sky shine bright, ION has its very own panoramic Northern Lights bar, where you can even sit down with an in-house astronomer and have all your aurora queries answered.

Find a room at ION Hotel
Find a flight to Reykjavik

Hotel Rangá – Hella, Iceland

The Northern Lights span over the Hotel Rangá.

The Northern Lights span over the Hotel Rangá. © Greenland Travel

In the quiet countryside in which Hotel Rangá is located, you can gawk at the glowing sky whilst soaking in a bubbling outdoor hot tub with a view of the Mount Hekla volcano. A special ‘Aurora alarm’ wake-up service guarantees you won’t sleep through the action and – because there’s more to the infinite night sky than those luminous waves of colour – the hotel has even built its own highly-equipped astronomical observatory for expert stargazing. You will find Hotel Rangá a mere two hours away from Reykjavik’s airport.

Find a room at Hotel Ranga
Find a flight to Reykjavik

Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel – Alta, Norway

A typical Norwegian lavvo tent under the Aurora

A typical Norwegian lavvo tent under the Aurora

Staying at a hotel made entirely of ice, sculpted anew each winter, is a fantastic frosty experience in its own right. And if that’s not eccentric enough for you, at the Sorrisniva you can also camp out in a typical lavvo tent with a toasty fire to keep you warm. On the banks of the Alta River, you’re in prime aurora-spotting territory – team up with some huskies to sled you towards the lights!

Find a room at Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
Find a flight to Alta

Hotel Kakslauttanen – Saariselkä, Finland

Gaze up at the unending Aurora Borealis at Hotel Kakslauttanen

Gaze up at the undending Aurora Borrealis at Hotel Kakslauttanen © Man Ng

Imagine if you could lie under the incandescent sky without leaving the comfort of your warm snug bed … well, in the Hotel Kakslauttanen in Finnish Lapland, this dream-like scenario is a very real possibility. The family-run establishment has built a village of igloos where you can sleep in small domes made of glass that doesn’t steam up or frost over. Other activities include reindeer safaris, horse-riding in the snow and an icebreaker cruise with an optional dip in the glacial Baltic Sea – in a dry suit, of course.

Find a room at Hotel Kakslauttanen
Find a flight to Ivalo

Santa Claus Holiday Village – Rovaniemi, Finland

The Santa Claus Holiday Village

The Santa Claus Holiday Village

In the Rovaniemi region (land of the Sami, the indigenous people of Lapland), another out-of-the-box choice of accommodation – particularly for those travelling with little ones – is the Santa Claus Holiday Village. Besides being ideally situated to start your search for the Northern Lights, there’s plenty to keep the kids distracted during daylight hours. The hotel’s Gingerbread Club hosts everything from sledding to arts & crafts, baking and even elf school!

Find a room at Santa Claus Holiday Village
Find a flight to Rovaniemi

Abisko Mountain Lodge – Abisko, Sweden

The Aurora Sky Station on Mount Nuolja.

The Aurora Sky Station on Mount Nuolja. © imagea.org

Nestled in the northernmost valley of Swedish Lapland, the rustic cabins of the Abisko Mountain Lodge are a cozy choice for an Arctic stay.

The hotel offers a wide range of activities – from ice-fishing to heli-skiing – to keep you busy when you’re not out scouting the main event, but its biggest selling point is its location.

From your window you can spot the icy Torneträsk Lake of the Abisko National Park, where scientists have identified a ‘blue hole’, a patch of sky that generally stays clear even when the surrounding area is overcast. Head over to the Aurora Sky Station for a privileged viewpoint!

Find a room at Abisko Mountain Lodge
Find a flight to Kiruna

Treehotel – Harads, Sweden

The Mirrorcube room at the Tree Hotel.

The Mirrorcube room at the Treehotel. © Fredrik Broman Human Spectra

Sweden’s Treehotel is just what the name implies, — a hotel with an incredibly inspired design where you sleep, quite literally, up in the trees! Here you can soak in a wood-fired bathtub in the heart of the forest, sign up for a photography course to capture the perfect image of the auroras or join the nighttime snowmobile safaris to chase after those radiant cosmic swirls.

Find a room at Treehotel
Find a flight to Lulea

Hotel Alyeska – Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Look out of your room window at a sky of sparkling green at Hotel Alyeska

Look out of your room window at a sky of sparkling green at Hotel Alyeska

Sample the very best of the Alaskan wilderness at Hotel Alyseka — a chateau-style motel that merges modern comfort with the great outdoors. The remote location of this gem of a hotel makes it an ideal vantage point from which to view the Northern Lights, which are seen best during the wee hours of the morning. The hotel staff will happily wake you from your slumber so you can catch the coruscating spectacle.

Find a room at Hotel Alyeska
Find a flight to Anchorage

Blachford Lake Lodge – Yellowknife, Canada

Grab a fat tire bike from Blachford Lake Lodge and pedal under the Northern Lights

Grab a fat tire bike from Blachford Lake Lodge and pedal under the Northern Lights

Blachford Lake Lodge is an ideal spot to see the dance of the Northern Lights across the dark night sky. Its remote location offers pristine views of the phenomenon from its hilltop perch. While you’re here, explore the Canadian wilderness on skis, kick sleds or fat tire bikes and take part in igloo building workshops, snowmobile forays and other activities. If the views from under the covers in your room don’t quite cut it, try the Blachford Lake Lodge hot tub, where you can enjoy the spectacle while the warm water soothes your senses.

Find a room at Blachford Lake Lodge
Find a flight to Yellowknife

More inspiration: