I’ve never been to Finland or Lapland before. This review is, therefore, an honest recount of someone who never had to deal with having his eyebrows being frozen.
My grandmother wanted to celebrate her 80th birthday in the snow. My father – a travel journalist- decided to organize a trip to Ivalo, Finland.
We would stay in the Wilderness Hotel Nangu, go on a husky-ride and explore the -frozen- lake with a snow scooter.
I was down. When are we leaving? Let’s go!
From Ivalo Airport to Wilderness Hotel Nangu
It was a quick 30-minute drive from the airport of Ivalo to our hotel. Tourists barely drive in Lapland, so the roads were clear. It was already dark, as there are only three hours of light when we went in January.
Arriving at Wilderness Hotel Nangu is like teleporting into a cheesy Christmas movie on Netflix. And I say that in the right way. I was amazed.
I’ve traveled to countries like Australia, New Zealand, The United States, and more, but arriving at this hotel made me gasp audibly. I’ve barely experienced that in my life, so that’s a great start.
The hotel was covered in snow but had cozy decorations.
We arrived around 7:30 PM, thirty minutes before dinner ended, so the staff immediately seated us and offered us food.
The food at Wilderness Hotel Nangu
While the website says that all three daily meals are buffet, our dinner was always a set menu. You had a choice between whatever they decided was the meal of the evening and a vegetarian option.
When we first arrived, they offered us carrot soup, baked salmon, and a wacky dessert based around raspberries. When I asked if there was any meat, I was met with ‘no,’ but you can pick the vegetarian option!
I honestly don’t mind fish, but I prefer meat. I was a bit bummed that a hotel of this price range does not have a fish and meat option.
On the second day, we ate mushroom soup, reindeer with mashed potatoes, and red berries with caramel. They enjoy their berries at Wilderness Hotel Nangu.
The day after, we had breakfast and spotted our beloved berries in a cake. At least they don’t throw their food away. 😉
I don’t mind menu’s, but I prefer to have at least two options. If I need to decide between fish and salad, I prefer meat. If that’s not an option, I regret taking the full board. This is, of course, is a personal opinion, and if you’re not picky with food, this isn’t an issue at all.
The cuisine is very basic but tastes good. You won’t find any fancy dishes or breathtaking food presentation, but it does the job after a long day of venturing outside during snowstorms.
The activities at Wilderness Hotel Nangu
During our three day stay, we opted for a husky tour & exploring Lake Inarijarvi with snowmobiles.
On our vouchers, it said we would first do the snowmobile tour and the day after we’d enjoy our husky trial.
Once we finished our dinner on the first evening, a lady from the hotel came to our table and said plans have changed, and we were expected to go to the Husky farm first, the day after we’d do the snowmobile tour.
We didn’t mind, but communication was a bit unprofessional. She said we were expected at another hotel (Wilderness Hotel Nellim) 42 kilometers from Wilderness Hotel Nangu for the Husky tour at 11 AM. Once we arrived there, they told us the trip didn’t start until 1:30 PM, but we could enjoy a short walk around the hotel and have lunch there.
The Husky Tour at Wilderness Hotel Nangu
The husky tour was terrific, though. After a quick intro about braking, steering (those huskies have a mind of their own!), and a few tips and tricks, we’re off! I started on a duo-sleigh with my grandmother. Our dogs were chill and slow. I didn’t need to brake often. Because we were in a group and our party consisted of 3, my dad had a solo sleigh. His dogs were crazy. They went super fast, and we’re full of energy. After a short while, we stopped, and our guide suggested we switched.
I was so ready to tame those dogs. I felt like Jon Snow during Game of Thrones. Sadly, those huskies ran with me instead of me controlling the huskies. I was braking all the time as they were insanely fast. I was also at the end of the convoy, so I was always holding back. I would have loved just to let go and make them sprint, but that would mean that I would crash into five different sleighs like I was playing Mario Kart. Let’s avoid doing that.
After our one hour and a half trip, we arrived back at the husky farm, petted the dogs, and learned more about how they operate.
We were allowed to go into the little cage of the husky puppies, and it was just magical. They are full of energy, but they are charming. You don’t have to be afraid. They want to run, so let them run!
After heading back to the hotel, we enjoyed a nice glass of wine and went to bed. The next day we’d be on a snow scooter for four hours, so we wanted to be rested.
Snowmobiling at Wilderness Hotel Nangu
This was my favorite activity. I’ve never been on a snowmobile before, so I was anxious about this activity. Our guide was a sweet, wise man who has a lot of experience. He provided a covered sled for my grandmother that had heating. This was great, as the outside temperature was about -25 degrees Celcius.
After a quick tutorial, getting fitted with a helmet and balaclava, and learning all the hand gestures, we were off!
My god, snowmobiling, is an art!
When you drive 20km/h, everything goes smoothly, and you don’t even have to steer. The mobile follows the tracks of the one before you.
At 30km/h, everything becomes bumpy as the snowmobile can’t decide between following the track or making its track.
Once you drive 40km/h and up, the fun begins. You zoom across the snow and make your road. It’s still bumpy, and you need to hold tight, but it’s a fantastic experience.
You drive for about one hour and a half. Afterward, you stop at an island in the middle of the frozen lake. Ours was named ‘Ice Island,’ fitting, wouldn’t you say?
We had an improvised barbeque above a fireplace and drank homemade coffee. We shared tales around the campfire and got to know our guide.
After lunch, we cruised for another hour and a half and then got back to the hotel where we could reminisce about what just happened.
I highly recommend booking the snowmobile tour as it was one of the best experiences of my life.
The rooms at Wilderness Hotel Nangu
We stayed in a pretty basic room as we figured we’d be out all day. There’s a big main building where you can chill, relax, and have dinner. It has tables, sofas, and lounge corners.
Our room had everything we needed to survive. Funnily enough, it was way too hot inside. We opened a window all night to cool it down a bit.
The bathroom had a nice hot shower, and the water pressure was excellent.
The inside of the rooms was made of wood, and it felt like you were in a cabin in the woods.
We had a standard room, and it was more than fine, so explore the region for a few days.
You can also opt for a glass hut on the lake. It’s more expensive and smaller than a standard room, but it’s a unique experience. As the igloo is made of glass, you have excellent visibility of the Northern Lights (if it would ever show up!)
Lastly, there’s a more private cabin on the hill if you prefer to have your own little space. Looks great for a honeymoon, as it also has its private sauna.
Wifi at Wilderness Hotel Nangu
Wireless internet is only available in the main building.
Connection speed is dependant on how many devices are active at any given time. My download speed swung from 15mbps to 45mbps. On average, it was 32mbps.
That’s more than enough to do basic browsing, emailing, and writing this blog. 🙂
Staying at Wilderness Hotel Nangu in Finland: Final thoughts
I enjoyed my stay at this hotel. It was a great experience of being away from my office for a few days. As it was also an emotional trip (80th birthday of my grandmother), I felt like the hotel added to the experience.
The activities were great, the level of comfort was enjoyable, and the staff was friendly.
As constructive criticism, I’d like to say that they should always offer a meat/fish/vegetarian option. Communication could also be better, as some activities changed last minute, and that’s not fun if you’re just here for a short while.
All in all, I feel like this was a lovely trip, and I’d go back to Wilderness Hotel Nangu when the opportunity presents itself.