By Tiffany Ryes, International Banker
From idyllic, snowy landscapes to storybook villages; from staying in a room completely made of snow to sipping champagne while marvelling at the Northern Lights—Scandinavian destinations definitely have their unique charm.
More than simply destinations, these Scandinavian luxury holidays are, in fact, journeys in themselves, taking travellers to captivating splendours that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Denmark—this quintet of Nordic nations offers tremendously distinct experiences that, while unforgettable, can leave visitors wanting to discover more. After all, these destinations have so much to offer in terms of scenery, cuisine, history and culture.
So, if your pockets are deep and you want to spoil yourself, head out on one of these dreamy upscale vacations, which offer various delights awesomely delivered to you Scandinavian style.
Norway: Snowhotel Kirkenes
Guests will feel as if they’re on top of the world at the very tip of the northernmost point of Europe, when they head to the enchanting town of Kirkenes in Norway. Filled with raw and beautiful natural landscapes that are blanketed with snow during the long winter months, dense pine forests, stunning snow-capped mountains and diverse wildlife, Kirkenes is indeed fascinating.
What lures people from all over the world to this magical town, however, is the world’s most northerly ice hotel—Snowhotel Kirkenes. A must-visit to every adventurer and winter-obsessed traveller, Snowhotel offers not just an unreal experience in its sculpted ice suites but most importantly, a chance to view the exquisite Northern Lights.
Snowhotel is a hotel unlike any other, so discerning travellers must be prepared to have their frosty breaths taken away. The hotel is best visited in the winter, when, aside from the all-year Gamme Village cabins, guests can opt for the more exciting snow and ice hotel. This pristine structure has 20 hand-sculpted ice suites that are built by professional ice sculptors each year. But don’t be fooled—the suites are surprisingly warm and cosy, despite the temperature reaching -4 degrees.
Upon reaching the hotel, guests are treated to welcome drinks in glasses made of ice—a small preview of the icy wonder that is to come. A tour through the Snowhotel offers an awe-inspiring view of the beautifully carved ice cabins and the furniture and fixtures within.
Those looking forward to watching the Northern Lights can experience them right over their heads while having dinner in a traditional Sami tent called lavvu. Guests are also treated to the Arctic adventure of riding some of the hotel’s 200 resident huskies across the Pasvik Valley.
Sweden: Ystad Saltsjöbad
Those who haven’t been to Sweden may not realize the expanse of the country and the many landscapes that it offers. Therefore, it’s a welcome surprise when guests experience a stay in one of its most famous luxury hotel and spa destinations, Ystad Saltsjöbad. This century-old fixture along the Baltic Sea coast is located less than two kilometres from the Ystad Harbor and the Charlotte Berlins Museum.
First opened in 1897 then later rebuilt and garnering worldwide popularity as a top-notch bath resort, Ystad Saltsjöbad offers an intoxicating mix of luxury, business and leisure. Anyone on a business, pleasure, romance or just Swedish holiday with the family can deeply enjoy a stay at this legendary property.
The hotel, with its 109 rooms, offers different styles and attractions, all homely and inviting. The interiors present a New England-inspired charm that meets a distinctly Scandinavian flair. The hotel is well supplied with suites, each with a Jacuzzi, but the star of the show is the enviable ocean vista that guests can enjoy from sweeping windows and spacious balconies.
For those looking for some relaxation and rejuvenation, Saltsjöbad proves to be a perfect choice. Apart from the relaxing pools are the hot tubs and heated outdoor pools, on top of different kinds of saunas. The indoor ice-hole is also a must-try.
There is also a room dedicated to total relaxation for guests to quietly sit by the fireplace or look out to nature from the big windows, all while enjoying a flute of sparkling and listening to calming music. However, for a fuller body experience, the world-famous Salt Creek Spa offers treatments that promise to penetrate not just the muscles but also the soul.
Iceland: ION Adventure Hotel
For a Scandinavian luxury vacation of a lifetime, Iceland’s luxury ION Adventure Hotel should not be missed. The hotel itself is a reflection of Iceland as a land of ice and fire, where the hotel protrudes out of moss and lava landscapes against snow-streaked mountains like an otherworldly respite. After all, who would think of turning an abandoned inn into a world-class boutique hotel such as ION?
Bringing together the hip and iconic with the scenic and natural, the hotel itself leans on sustainability as it brings out the natural features of its little corner within Iceland’s infamous Golden Circle. A step inside the modern and spacious hotel made of wood, glass and concrete gives its guests a hint that it’s all about the surrounding nature and the many adventures to be enjoyed nearby.
In fact, just in the vicinity of the hotel is one of Iceland’s best geothermal fields. Many other hiking options branch directly from the hotel’s entrance. A must-see is the Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is right next to ION. A visit in the winter offers a unique experience to view the Northern Lights, and ION allows its guests to gaze at the wonder right from its huge and sweeping wall-to-ceiling windows inside the hotel, specifically in the restaurant.
Once the adventures are over, guests can find respite in any of the 45 minimalistic Nordic rooms. The whole look is simple yet earthy and elegant, and guests can find everything they need in their well-appointed rooms that open to the wonderful Icelandic view beyond.
Denmark: Nimb Hotel
For a truly and remarkably classic fairytale experience, Denmark’s Nimb Hotel in Copenhagen is sure to leave you captivated. Any luxury Scandinavian tour isn’t complete without stepping into Nimb’s exquisitely lavish interiors. From its onion-shaped Moorish domes that echo the romance of The Arabian Nights to its opulent antique interiors and a peek into the pristine Tivoli Gardens beyond its windows and doors—Nimb is undeniably the perfect place for luxury in Scandinavia.
Renovated in 2008 and expanded in 2017, the hotel now boasts of 38 elegant yet minimalist rooms that are distinctly Danish. Each of the well-appointed rooms has Nespresso coffee machines, Bang & Olufsen equipment and Apple TVs that blend well with the antique furnishings and carefully curated art pieces. Selected rooms have fireplaces that are ideal for lounging while looking out over the magical gardens.
Guests are treated to a personal butler and a personal shopper on top of private limousine service, upping the notch in luxury vacations. Meanwhile, for those who are after the best in dining experiences, Nimb Hotel is legendary for housing the greatest number of world-famous restaurants. Nimb Brasserie and Terrasse, for example, offer sweeping views of the Tivoli and serve high-end French and seasonal Scandinavian cuisines. The Fru Nimb offers classic open sandwiches and more casual dining, while the Bar’N’ Grill provides the most scrumptious surf-and-turf dishes. Cakenhagen, meanwhile, offers the best cake and champagne pairings, while Vinothek presents an impressive selection of wine and cocktails. For those who are vegetarian, Gemyse offers an assortment of imaginative and delectable dishes.
With these upscale and world-class destinations, Scandinavia truly redefines luxury as more than opulent amenities and superior accommodations. In these Nordic lands of frozen tundra, trendy metropolises, storybook villages and contrasting landscapes, luxury can be lived in the most breathtaking experiences that only Scandinavia has to offer.
From the food to the adventures and down to the very small details of Nordic design and function, discerning travellers can find something to rave about in these vacations—and will keep coming back for more.