Scandinavia and the Nordics are a truly magical place. But when it comes to picking the right accommodation for your holiday, it can often be tricky to get it just right. At first glance, it might be the thought of a glass igloo or a new design hotel which catches your eye. While these can no doubt play a big part in any wonderful trip to the north, if you're looking for the most authentic, wholesome and characterful accommodation, sometimes the most friendly, warm and welcoming hotels – often family run – are the ones which can make your trip even more unforgettable. Think the likes of small boutique lodges or rustic charming cabins in some of the most breathtaking and often secluded locations, promising hearty cuisine, friendly attentive service, home-from-home ambiances and extra special experiences.
Below, our experts have hand-picked a selection of our most authentic hotels in Scandinavia and the Nordics. From the mountains of Norway to the deep forests of Finnish Lapland, you'll find plenty of inspiration for your next holiday.
1. Hotel Rangá, South Iceland
A stay at Hotel Rangá sums up the best that Iceland has to offer. With delightfully cosy and spacious rooms focussed on comfort, you'll find the hotel's traditional decor typically Nordic, featuring natural pinewood and furs, with global tribal touches to make for an eclectic mix. It's also wonderfully located in the volcanic heart of rural Iceland, and, most importantly, one of the best places to see the aurora given its remote location, far from any light pollution. The thermally heated outdoor hot tubs add a decidedly luxurious touch, making for a perfect viewing spot for those keeping an eye out for the Northern Lights.
2. Eliassen Rorbuer, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Found in the wild western part of the Lofoten Islands on the tiny island of Hamnoy, Eliassen Rorbuer is comprised of just 35 traditional timber fishermen’s cabins – a true step back in time. Resplendent in the iconic red that adorns Norwegian fishing villages the country over, you’ll be treated to a considered timber aesthetic, with wood panelling across all four walls and ceiling, making for a truly cosy and intimate atmosphere.
What's more, they all come with a private verandah; those with views over the next-door fjord are particularly special. Owing to its position above the Arctic Circle, it is ideally placed for spectacular views of winter's Northern Lights or summer's Midnight Sun. Within the fishing village, you'll find the welcoming Krambua Restaurant, showcasing hearty meals with the finest in fresh, local ingredients.
3. Beana Laponia, Finnish Lapland
This family-run lodge in the frozen wilds of Finnish Lapland is as close to wintry perfection as possible. Luxurious, romantic and adults only, Beana Laponia provides the ideal base for exploring the surrounding forests on some of Finland’s most exciting winter adventures. The husky sledding expeditions are a particular highlight, in the company of guides with a long family tradition of working with these curious arctic animals.
The lodge itself has just 11 individually designed cosy rooms complete with faux-fur throws and exposed wood beams, overlooking the snow-laden surroundings, giving it a certain authenticity and exclusivity. Nowhere is this felt more than in the welcoming and hospitable staff who get to know every guest as if it were their home.
4. Basecamp Hotel, Svalbard
Located in the heart of the polar outpost of Longyearbyen, on the far-flung archipelago of Svalbard, Basecamp Hotel is a beautifully rustic driftwood lodge roofed in slate and lined with sealskins, plenty of furs and a rough-and-ready feel, its walls showcasing trophies from the centuries of trapping and whaling activity in the region. Designed and decorated in authentic trapper's style, it is an atmospheric homage to Arctic days of yesteryear, providing a cosy and intimate base.
All 16 rooms are stylish in their simplicity yet come with quirky touches and souvenirs from old trapping days. The beds are superbly comfortable, cosy and snuggly – ideal for deep slumbers after hours spent in snowy surrounds. To top it off, the down-to-earth staff take care of you with the warmest personal service, creating a relaxed atmosphere. The glass-roofed Cognac loft is a great place to relax with a drink, looking up to a sky filled with the Northern Lights.
5. Villa Sjötorp Hotel, West Sweden
With warm Swedish hospitality in a beautiful setting, this charming 20th-century summer country hotel is famous in the region for its award-winning restaurant, offering organic locally sourced food and showcasing the best of Swedish cuisine. Situated near the locality of Ljungskile in an area dotted with old fishing villages and rocky outcrops, it's just a 45-minute drive from Gothenburg but a world away from the city sights. You'll enjoy uninterrupted views across the neighbouring bay from its landscaped gardens and terrace. The traditional Swedish decor, paired with its hearty food makes for an unmistakable home-from-home feel.
6. Hotel Flamsbrygga, Norwegian fjords
Evocative of an alpine chalet, Hotel Flamsbrygga sits in the heart of the quiet village of Flåm at the end of Aurlandsfjord, a small fjord branching out of the vast Sognefjord. Dwarfed by tall craggy mountains either side, the scenery is emblematic of the typical Norwegian countryside in the fjord region, perfectly positioned to take advantage of outdoor exploration in the form of kayaking, hiking or boat trips.
Inside, the hotel itself delights too. Small, intimate and rustic in style, the pine-clad walls of its ultra-cosy fjord-view rooms evoke traditional sentiments, while the enormous central fireplace of the sprawling restaurant brings a level of delicate cosiness. Though we highly recommend a visit during the warmer summer months, it can be visited year-round where each season brings with it new colours, activities and sights. The hotels adjacent Viking inspired brewpub – Ægir – is the perfect way to round off a day of exploration with its signature 5-course ‘Viking Plank’, matched with specially selected beers from the on sight brewery.
7. Hotel Arctic, Greenland
Banked right on the shores of the UNESCO World Heritage Ilulissat Icefjord, things really do not get much more remote than at Hotel Arctic. Located in the village of Ilulissat, with its small colourful wooden houses, guests at this boutique hotel have a choice of seven different types of rooms and suites, including the igloos which are situated right on the front row, allowing spellbinding views overlooking the ice fjord from May to October. The restaurant is regarded as one of Greenland’s best, preparing substantial food comprised of authentic Greenlandic ingredients. The relaxed bar and café add to the hotel’s inviting and friendly atmosphere, where you'll be looked after from like you're part of the family. Visit during summer to witness calving glaciers under ever-lasting glow of the Midnight Sun, or winter for dogsledding under the Northern Lights.
8. L7 Luxury Lodge, Finnish Lapland
Remote, rustic and utterly stylish, L7 Luxury Lodge in the depths of Finnish Lapland is the epitome of traditional log cabin cosiness. With just seven rooms, each with timber walls and floors, along with beds complete with rich fabrics and thick blankets, stays here are cosy, relaxing and intimate. But despite its remoteness, you'll have everything you need, with action-packed winter days spent snowmobiling and husky sledding in the next-door national park complemented perfectly by Jacuzzi soaks and traditional Finnish saunas back at the lodge, before lazy evenings are spent by the roaring fire. Hearty Lappish soups, stews and seasonal gourmet dining are complimented by coffee and sumptuous afternoon teas, and if you prefer enjoying a lazy day, the lounge is the perfect spot for a hot drink and views out to the frozen forest.
9. Granö Beckasin, Swedish Lapland
Wood-fired hot tubs, relaxing massages, countryside hiking and even canoeing under the Midnight Sun – rest and relaxation meets active exploration at Granö Beckasin. Surrounded by verdant forest and the pristine waters of the Umeå river, this eco-friendly lodge offers a unique and serene Swedish escape, perfect for those looking to enjoy a holiday like the locals. Hotel rooms and traditional cabins provide comfortable accommodation, though it's the Bird's Nest rooms which really steal the headlines here; stylish rooms set high in the canopy with spectacular views across the river and its Lapland forest backdrop. The hotel's sustainability and authenticity extends to its delicious cuisine, giving you a taste of the nature and history of northern Sweden whilst working with local hunters, farmers and foragers.
10. Hotel Union Øye
Characterful, intimate and exuding home-from-home ambiences in a traditional setting, Hotel Union Øye, nestled on the beautiful shores of Norangsfjorden in Norway's western fjords has long been the choice of royalty, famous writers and romantic couples – and when you consider its surrounding nature, spectacular views and charming heritage, it's not hard to see why. With just 27 rooms, you can be assured of an intimate and personal stay, with all rooms, suites and communal areas designed in warm Scandinavian decor. Chandeliers, wooden furnishings and silk chaise lounges ensure you'll feel as regal as the guests of yesteryear.
What's more, the ever-changing restaurant menu offers some of the country's best locally produced food. It also provides the perfect stage to discover Norway’s stunning fjords, impressive waterfalls and unique aura with picturesque hiking and kayaking adventures. When evening comes, enjoy the sounds of the piano in the quaint lounges or share stories of the hotel’s fascinating history by the fireplace.