Where to stay in Arctic Norway

Snuggle down in a hotel carved from 25 tonnes of ice, or try a more conventional architectural gem overlooking Tromsø harbour.

Kirkenes Snow Hotel

Every winter Ronny Ostrem and his team turn 25 tonnes of ice and 15,000 cubic metres of snow into an ice hotel in Norway.

How they rate it

Kirkenes differs from other snow hotels because it has a "personal touch", says Anthony Ham in the Lonely Planet Magazine. What comes across is "the sense of one man's dream crafted by hand, and the meal that he prepares to send you to your bed". But while the hotel is beautiful and the food delicious, bedtime is the main event. "It's an experience that wavers between the novel and an exercise in endurance."

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You sleep in a polar-strength sleeping bag surrounded by ice. "One of my guests said that sleeping here made him understand how a bird feels when they emerge from the egg," says Ostrem. "I prefer to think of it as a Kinder Egg. Either way, one night is usually enough."

The menu

You cook your own reindeer sausages over an open fire. The main course consists of baked salmon and potatoes.

The cost

A one-night stay costs from £236, including transfer from Kirkenes, dinner, breakfast, sauna and sleeping bag. Find out more at www.kirkenessnowhotel.com.

Rica Ishavshotel


Deep in the arctic circle lies the harbour city of Troms. It is Norway's northernmost city and an excellent place to view the northern lights. It is also a great place for a wilderness adventure, complete with dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and reindeer sleigh rides all available to help you explore the snowy landscape that surrounds you. Rest your head at the Rica Ishavshotel, which sits right on the harbour with impressive views over the water.

How they rate it

This is an "architecturally impressive" building, says Rhiannon Batten in The Independent. Designed in the style of a ship, it "bursts, prow-like, from the harbour". The "comfortable modern rooms" have "superb harbour views", says Phil Lee in The Guardian. There is also a continuous stream of free coffee, hot chocolate and waffles on offer throughout the day.

The menu

The hotel's Brasseriet restaurant serves traditional Norwegian cuisine, including specialities from the northern region. Try the Gallionen restaurant, which serves international fare. Don't miss out on a drink in the "sort of crow's-nest bar".

The cost

A double room costs from £152, including breakfast. For more information visit www.rica-hotels.com.

What the travel writers are saying

The Independent's Rhiannon Batten has rounded up the best British railway hotels here are three.

The Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire seems an "incongruous railway retreat", as the nearest railway station is 15 minutes drive away. But the hotel was built in 1906 by The Glasgow & South Western Railway, when the Ayr to Girvan line ran through the town. Despite the line closure, the hotel is "still thriving". Guests are drawn to the "smart styling" and a plush spa. A double room costs from £157, B&B (Turnberryresort.co.uk; 01655 331000).

The Midland Hotel in Morecambe is "a swirl of art deco glamour on Morecambe's seafront". It was built in 1933 by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. The hotel had a short heyday, when guests included Coco Chanel and Noel Coward. That was before people began holidaying in warmer areas and the building fell derelict. In 2003 renovations began and in 2008 the hotel reopened as a chic four-star hotel with a spa. Doubles start at £98, B&B (Elh.co.uk; 01524-424000).

Formerly the Great Western Rail Hotel, the Malmaison in Reading was built in 1844 and is believed to be the oldest railway hotel still in existence. Winston Churchill was a guest here, but now it attracts "a glamorous, younger crowd" with the hotel chain's "familiar formula of stylish rooms, unpretentious food and buzzy atmosphere". Trainspotters will appreciate the rail memorabilia and model railway. A double room costs from £145, B&B (Malmaison.com; 0118-956 2300).