Where to stay in the Arctic

Iceland's Hotel Ranga is the perfect place to see the Northern Lights. Or for a more energetic trip, try a husky safari in Norway's Svalbard.

If you've ever wanted to see the Northern Lights, now is the time to go. From now until 2014, the chances of seeing the spectacular display are higher than average due to increased solar activity. To see the show in style, check into this lodge, which is one hour east of Reykjavik.

How they rate it

Hotel Ranga "is probably the best place on Earth from which to witness the display", says The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, which has named it one of the best hotels in the world. The "rooms are eccentrically luxurious splash out on the Antarctic suite and you'll get a whirlpool tub with views of Mount Hekla".

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The menu

Despite being an hour from Reykjavik, "many Rekis drive out to dine at Ranga's restaustaurant", says Tanya Steele of Epicurious.com. The food is modern Nordic cuisine with dishes including marinated trout with fruit salsa and sour cream or smoked goose.

The cost

Great Hotels of the World currently have a special offer on Hotel Ranga. Offer prices start from £218 per room per night, based on a four-night stay. This includes use of the hotel's hot tubs as well as breakfast. For more information, visit Ghotw.com and see their 'Chase the Northern Lights in Iceland' offer.

Dog sledding, Svalbard, Norway


For a more outdoors Arctic adventure, head to Svalbard. This Norwegian archipelago is the home of glaciers, polar bears and explorers. Activities Abroad offer a three-day husky safari across frozen fjords to the Noorderlicht, a red schooner that's caught in the winter ice.

How they rate it

Built in 1912 and now modernised with 12 cabins, "the ship is a marvellous hideaway from which to keep an eye out for polar bears and the Northern Lights", says Nigel Tisdall in The Daily Telegraph's UltraTravel. The 43-mile dog safari itself will take you "across virgin snow, mushing a fiercely motivated team of Alaskan dogs". The Nooderlicht is so isolated that guests are not permitted to leave the ship without an armed guard to protect them from polar bears.

The menu

All meals are included, except for the nights at base camp, when you can eat in the nearby town of Longyearbyen. The Polar Hotel is a good option for dinner in town.

The cost

A four-night Husky Safari is available between February and May (from £1,695 with Activities Abroad). Equipment is provided. Transfers and flights cost from £450. See Activitiesabroad.com or telephone 01670-789991.

What the travel writers are saying

If chasing the Northern Lights and husky safaris don't appeal, then The Guardian has three more unusual snowy holidays to try. Inspired by Swedish explorer Salomon Andre's attempt to reach the North Pole by hot-air balloon in 1897, two Dutch explorers have launched a short hot-air ballooning adventure in Levi, Finland. You'll help assemble the balloon before "floating over the snowy Arctic wilderness, spotting reindeer and drinking champagne at the touch-down". Rides cost from €179 for adults; €125 for under-18s. See Visitfinland.com/uk for more information.

Segways may not have caught on here, but in the Austrian alpine resort of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis you can use the "big-wheeled, stand-up scooters" to take an hour-long tour around the resort plateau and try out an obstacle course. It costs €49 per person, see Serfaus-fiss-ladis.at to find out more.

During a two-day trip to Les Carroz in France you can construct your own igloo at 1,998 metres then have "a fondue dinner under the stars and snuggle inside for the night". In the morning you can descend the mountain through the forest on snowshoes. The trip costs €119 per person. Book at Alps-trekking.com.

Matthew Williamson: My dream holiday

Designer Matthew Williamson's favourite city is Florence. Spend the days in the museums or shopping for cashmere and shoes, then stay the night at JK Place in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. "It's a lovely combination of classical exteriors and modern interiors, small, low-key, with great service," says Williamson in The Daily Telegraph's Ultratravel. For more, see Jkplace.com.