16 of the best places to stay in Scandinavia

From igloos to castles and lighthouses to cranes, Scandinavia is home to some spectacular, unusual and amazing places to stay.

The Nusfjord Arctic Resort is an amazing place to stay in Norway
Nusfjord Arctic Resort

Whether your accommodation is in a former fisherman’s hut or a converted quarry, it will have a certain classic comfort and style that is particular to Scandinavia.

Luxury in the Nordic countries consists of unshowy comfort and simple but elegant design, with natural materials used wherever possible. 

You may not get bling and high-tech gadgets, but you will get warmth, comfort, beautiful views and a sense of style and high-quality design.

We also like the fact that many places make the most of their natural surroundings while minimising the environmental impact, and use local and seasonal ingredients and products in their restaurants.

Admittedly, this subtle style and attention to detail may not come cheap.

But if you’re looking for that once-in-a-lifetime place to spend the night, here’s our pick of the best in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, plus a couple of top choices in Finland and Iceland too.


Norway
Denmark
Sweden
Finland
Iceland

Norway

Sleep in a traditional fishing cottage

Dotted across Norway’s wild Lofoten islands are a series of rorbuer, former wooden fishermen’s huts that have been converted into cosy cottages for holiday-makers. 

Nusfjord Arctic resort has accommodation in converted fishing cottages in the Lofoten islands
Nusfjord Arctic Resort

They vary from stylish, upmarket accommodation to simple basic bunk rooms, but all retain the atmosphere and connection to the coast that characterises these islands.

We particularly like the Nusfjord Arctic Resort, where an entire fishing village has been sensitively converted into holiday accommodation, but without losing the traditional vibe and culture of the settlement.

The hotel rooms are dotted around the village, an old fish salting house is now an art gallery, the former general store now houses a café, and the hotel restaurant serves local, seasonal and sustainably caught fish and vegetables. 

We love the peace and connection with nature that this place offers, as well as the fun activities. 

You can go on fishing trips, kayak around the fjords or take a dip in the sea, then warm up afterwards in the outdoor hot tubs and sauna.

Stay in a Norwegian lighthouse

The vast Norwegian coastline boasts a string of spectacular lighthouses where visitors can stay.

Stay in a lighthouse in Norway.
Torsvåg Lighthouse

Some sit alone on an island, some are on remote, craggy stretches of coast and others along the indented fjords, but all share fantastic views and a sense of adventure.

The accommodation varies from basic bunkhouse to full-on luxury hotel, and access can be a simple as a short drive or as adventurous as a wild sea-crossing.

For something really special, head north to the tiny Arctic island of of Kåja, where the 100-year-old Torsvåg lighthouse is available to rent.

We love its island location, surrounded by stunning scenery and no light pollution – perfect for watching the northern lights.

Wake up in a winter wonderland

Spending the night at the Kirkenes Snowhotel is seriously cool. The rooms at this Arctic igloo hotel are carved out of snow and ice by well-known ice sculptors.

Kirkenes Snow Hotel is a great place to stay in Scandinavia
Kirkenes Snowhotel, Norway

And, as you might expect, the decor changes every year as the hotel melts completely into the waters of the fjord each spring.

During the day, you can keep warm by going ice-fishing, snowmobiling or on a husky safari, then settle in to the ice bar for a drink and dine on local dishes, such as smoked reindeer or king crab soup.

As you’re a long way north, there’s a good chance of catching the northern lights during your stay here, too.

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Find peace at this unusual forest hotel

Escape to a wooden pod with glass walls that hangs suspended over a steep valley with far-reaching views of a gorge, woods, river and mountains.

Juvet is one of the coolest places to stay at in Scandinavia
Juvet Landscape Hotel, Norway / Pic: Fredrik Linge (CC)

The Juvet Landscape Hotel’s high-spec cutting-edge architecture manages to be luxurious and comfortable while making you feel like you’re right out in the midst of the surrounding nature.

Futuristic yet down-to-earth, the hotel was a fitting location for the 2014 sci-fi film Ex Machina.

We love that you can chill out in the outside hot tub or the sauna with a huge picture window and admire the views of river below and the mountains above.

Check into a remote radio station

A former radio station in isolated Svalbard is an unlikely location for a luxurious hotel.

Best places to stay in Scandinavia
Isfjord radio station, Norway / Pic: Mikeangelo (CC)

So remote is this place that you can only get there by boat, snowmobile or dog-sled, while local wildlife includes seals, walruses and even polar bears.

Once inside, however, it’s cosy and comfortable, with an excellent restaurant serving local food.

The station is regularly visited by polar bears  – and you can even do some bird-spotting or whale-watching from the sauna, which has great views of the sea through its large windows.

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Denmark

Sleep in a castle

It may be an 800-year-old haunted castle, but Dragsholm Slot is still one of Denmark’s most luxurious and romantic hotels.

Dragsholm Slot is one of the most interesting places to stay in Scandinavia
Dragsholm Slot, Denmark

It’s surrounded by the Unesco-protected Geopark Odsherred, a landscape of beautiful rolling hills and glacial coastline.

And there can’t be many castles that have a Michelin-starred restaurant on site – this one prides itself on serving dishes made from the highly-acclaimed local produce including herbs from its own garden.

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Enjoy Danish design delights

Treat yourself to a night in the original design hotel, the Royal Hotel Copenhagen, whose architect Arne Jacobsen is the father of Danish Modernism.

One of the coolest hotels in Scandinavia
Royal Hotel, Denmark

Jacobsen designed every little detail of the hotel, from the signature spiral staircase in the lobby to the iconic egg chairs.

Built in 1960 and recently restored to its full glory, the hotel is a must for architecture and design fans – and most of the rooms have great views over the city, too.

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Stay in a crane

Get a bird’s-eye view of Copenhagen from the cabin of a crane that has been converted into a cosy, comfortable hideway for two.

The Krane in Copenhagen, one of the best hotels in Scandinavia
The Krane, Denmark

Combining luxurious Danish design with industrial architecture and panoramic views, this has to be one of Denmark’s most unusual places to spend the night. Even the spa has a glass wall with views over the harbour.

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Sweden

Camp overnight on a private island

It may be camping, but not as we know it. This is luxury glamping on an otherwise uninhabited island in the Stockholm archipelago.

One of many interesting places to stay in Scandinavia
Island Lodge, Sweden / Pic: Torkild Berglund

The seven tents dotted around the island all come with sea views, comfortable beds and wood-burning stoves.

Sit back and watch the sunset from the wood-fired hot tub overlooking the lake or the floating sauna, before the on-site chef cooks you up a gourmet dinner.

We love that you get the whole island and your own private beach to yourself, but you’re just forty minutes by boat from the centre of Stockholm.

Hang out among the trees

Sweden’s frankly incredible Treehotel
 is home to some of the world’s most unusual tree houses, from the ‘Mirror cube’, which almost disappears into the surrounding forests as you look at it, to the designer Dragonfly and the quirky UFO.

This UFO at the Treehotel is an incredible place to stay
Treehotel, Sweden

Some have fantastic views, some have unusual interiors, and all are suspended in the tall pine woods of northern Sweden.

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Chill out at the Icehotel

You may be lying on a bed made of ice at Sweden’s Icehotel, but the cosy reindeer skins and thermal sleeping bags here will keep you warm.

The Icehotel is one of the most unusual places to stay in Scandinavia
The Icehotel, Sweden

Each room is designed by a different ice sculptor, so settle into your ice armchair or warm up at the hotel restaurant (not made of ice!), where you can sample local delicacies such as moose or smoked reindeer.

There is of course an Icebar offering chilled drinks – on the rocks, if you prefer.

And if you want to experience the Icehotel and its activities without actually sleeping on a bed made of ice, there are warm ensuite rooms too that are bookable year-round.

Or in summer, you can stay in a Sami lavuu (a traditional Sami tent) down by the river.

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Have fun at a former quarry

Staying in the middle of an old limestone quarry may not sound that appealing, but Fabriken Furillen makes it a very enjoyable experience.

Fabriken Furillen is an unusual hotel in Gotland, Sweden
Fabriken Furillen, Sweden / Pic: Arkland (CC)

The hotel’s austere industrial exterior of concrete and hardwood belies a stylish, comfortable interior, full of subdued tones.

Grab one of the hotel bikes and explore Gotland’s wild and remote Furillen peninsula, or settle into the hotel restaurant and enjoy its tasty dishes made from produce grown on the local farm.

Note that the hotel’s stylish minimalist architecture means that it’s often used for photo shoots, so is not always open to the public. But if you can bag a room, we suggest you do!

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Stay in a floating cabin on the river Lule 

High up in Swedish Lapland, on the edge of the Artic Circle, the Arctic Bath hotel has a floating circular spa with sauna plus comfortable cabins where you can – literally – spend the night on the river.

Stay in a cabin on the river at Sweden's amazing Arctic Bath hotel.
The Arctic Bath hotel

In winter the river is frozen, but the swimming area in the spa is kept free of ice, so you can have a dip in the river before warming up in the floating sauna.

There are also smart rooms on the river bank, but if you’ve come this far, we recommend booking the simpler river cabins that are connected to land by a floating walkway for the full experience.

Finland

Stay in an igloo

Well, these are igloos with a difference – the Arctic Fox igloos are made of glass, not ice.

The igloo hotel in Finland
Artic Fox Igloo Hotel, Finland

So you can lie in bed and admire amazing views of Lake Ranuanjärvi and the forest – and even watch the northern lights from your bed.

By day, you can explore the surrounding wilderness by husky, reindeer or snowmobile safari, or look out for brown bears, polar bears and wolverines at the nearby wildlife reserve.

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Stay on a Finnish island

On an island on the edge of the Arctic Circle, the Hotel Vartiosaari is accessed by a pedestrian suspension bridge over the Kemijoki river. 

Stay on an island in Finland at the Hotel Vartiosaari.
Hotel Vartiosaari

Although it’s on a private island surrounded by woods, the hotel has comfortable rooms with stylish Scandi-style decor and furniture by Finnish designers such as Alvar Aalto, and a wood-fired sauna by the river.

We love this its serene atmosphere makes you feel completely connected to nature, but it’s a just ten-minute drive from the hurly-burly of Rovaniemi’s Santa Claus village.

Iceland

Stay at Iceland’s iconic Blue Lagoon

Ok we’re not saying this is cheap, but if you want a hotel with a real wow-factor, The Retreat is it.

The Retreat at Iceland's Blue Lagoon is the ultimate luxury spa hotel.
The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon

We love this new ultra-smart, upmarket hotel at Iceland’s most famous site, the Blue Lagoon thermal pools, where all guests have unlimited access to the pools themselves plus a private upmarket spa just for hotel guests. 

Some suites come with a view of the pools, others look out over mossy lava fields, but all have a private terrace or balcony and are the utmost in comfort and luxury. And all guests get a free daily yoga session thrown in too!

The hotel’s highly-regarded Moss restaurant has a Michelin Star, though there are also more casual restaurants on-site.

We think if you’re in the mood to splash out on a relaxing spa break with Michelin-star food, this is the place to do it!

See also:

The Swedish Nature House: Living in a Greenhouse
10 cool places to stay in Finland
Visiting the Icehotel on a Budget

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Chanel
5 years ago

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been binge-reading your blog for the past couple of weeks – love the content as it’s so super helpful! So from one blogger to another – thank you ??

Routes North
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5 years ago
Reply to  Chanel

Thank you Chanel!