Isn’t life amazing? Sometimes, for me at least, it’s hard to believe we’re all just here on this beautiful planet full of wonders like the Grand Canyon, giraffes and the dazzling phenomenon we call the northern lights.
I’ve been lucky to see the former two of those wonders, but the northern lights have eluded me thus far. Probably because I’ve never been to the Arctic areas where the almost alien-like green, yellow and sometimes red lights are most often spotted.
Sooner rather than later, I’d like to make that trip happen. Thankfully, many of my colleagues here at The Points Guy have had their own adventures chasing the northern lights and put together some handy guides on setting expectations for a trip and if it’s best to see them by land, air or sea.
No matter how you see them, chances are you’ll need a place to sleep before, during or after the hunt in one of the best places to see the northern lights.
Whether you want to root the experience in stylish Reykjavik or sleep directly under the lights in a glass igloo in Finland, here are the best hotels to see the northern lights.
Ion Adventure Hotel
Part of Design Hotels and a member of Marriott Bonvoy, Ion Adventure Hotel offers a once-in-a-lifetime stay in Selfoss, Iceland, that’s likely to come with a tantalizing taste of the northern lights.
With just 45 rooms, this hotel is as intimate as it is remote (about an hour from Reykjavik). The rugged design full of concrete features seems to mirror the lava fields which the property calls home. At the Northern Lights Bar, floor-to-ceiling windows offer great views of the landscape and sky outside. Hotel staff can arrange various types of adventures (there’s a reason it’s in the name) to get even closer to the magic in the sky.
How to book: Marriott Bonvoy members can book the Ion Adventure Hotel for as little as 66,000 points a night while cash rates start at around $375.
SMALL LUXURY HOTELS
A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (and Hyatt by extension), Hotel Ranga in Hella, Iceland, is a rustic property with eclectic, luxury finesse.
The hotel describes itself as “a cross between a hunting lodge and (palatial) log cabin.” However, it also happens to have an observatory where a local astronomer helps guests see the cosmos — even with an untrained eye. If you’re afraid of missing the lights in the middle of the night, just press a button on your in-room phone and the hotel’s aurora wake-up team will notify you when the glowin’ gets goin’.
How to book: A Category 7 World of Hyatt hotel, award nights here can be found between 25,000 and 35,000 points. Cash rates are available at around $250 and $300 a night.
With a collection of uber-chic hotels around the world, Marriott’s Edition brand, founded by famed hotelier Ian Schrager, is the epitome of cool.
In Iceland, the Reykjavik Edition is no exception. However, it may even be on a different level considering its prime location in a super-trendy city that also happens to be a place to spot the northern lights. In the hotel, one great viewing spot is The Roof bar, serving drinks and sustainably sourced food with a side of stunning mountain and ocean views.
How to book: Cash rates at the Reykjavik Edition start around $445 dollars a night while Marriott Bonvoy members can snag an award night for between 77,500 and 100,000 points per night.
Hilton Reykjavik Nordica
ANDREW KUNESH/THE POINTS GUY
If you’re a Hilton Honors member looking for the northern lights, consider a stay at the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, one of three Hilton properties in the capital city.
As our review of the hotel notes, the location is not necessarily ideal if you’re looking to experience Reykjavik itself. However, it’s a good home base for the many adventures near the city, including ones that head out in search of the northern lights. After a busy night exploring the magic in the sky, guests can return to the hotel and unwind at the spa, warm up in the sauna and try a local beer at the bar.
How to book: Cash prices at the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica fluctuate but can be found as low as $120 a night, though most nights are slightly more expensive. Hilton Honors members can book for as little as 34,000 points per night.
Star Arctic Hotel
STAR ARCTIC HOTEL
The Lapland region of Finland is one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, and in the village of Saariselka, the Star Arctic Hotel might be the best place to stay.
Perched atop the Kaunispaa mountain, the hotel is exactly what you’d expect from a stylish Scandanavian hotel — and honestly, the design might rival the beauty of the aurora itself. Here you can book a Scenic View Suite with huge windows to gaze at the lights or opt for a glass-topped cabin so you can see them from bed without even having to turn over. For the full Finnish experience, stop in the hotel’s restaurant for locally sourced reindeer meat and fish.
How to book: Depending on the time of year you visit, rates fluctuate pretty dramatically and availability is already almost gone for December. In November, you can find rates for less than $200 though I found rates of over $700 during the few open dates in December. In January, rates start at around $360.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
KAKSLAUTTANEN ARCTIC RESORT
Another property on the list from Lapland in Finland is the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
It’s known for its glass-domed igloos that seem to allow the northern lights to wrap you up like a blanket. Beyond chasing the lights, the resort offers extensive incredible activities like husky safaris, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and skiing. It’s a winter wonderland that you have to see to believe.
How to book: Nightly rates for the smallest glass igloo start at around $585 a night.
Related: Searching for Santa: A once-in-a-lifetime trip in Finland’s snowy Arctic
Most likely, no two trips to the Icehotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, will be the same. That’s because each year, a new iteration of the hotel is built from ice and snow which melts away when it starts to warm up after April.
Though there are permanent, year-round accommodations, pairing a trip to catch the northern lights with a stay in a temporary hotel made of Mother Earth’s natural elements is surely the only way to do it. As for experiences, the hotel can organize dinners under the lights, photography lessons to learn how to capture the perfect image of them and snowmobile safaris at night for a high-speed way to chase them.
How to book: Rates at the Icehotel depend on room type but snow rooms can be found for between $300 and $500 a night. As TPG reporter Emily McNutt found during her stay, you can also book a transfer from the airport via dog sled.
Northern Lights Resort & Spa
You don’t have to go all the way to Iceland or Scandanavia to see the northern lights. There are opportunities to see them in Canada’s Yukon. At the Northern Lights Resort & Spa, near the town of Whitehorse, glass chalets are available to book that offer huge windows looking out into the sky directly from the bed.
The resort offers a series of three- and four-night all-inclusive packages that include special viewing experiences, three meals daily, use of the saunas, winter clothes rentals and even dog sledding.
How to book: For the 2022-23 season, the resort’s website warns that availability is scarce. For what is available, prices start at $1,490 for a three-night stay and $1,690 for a four-night experience.
Arctic Treehouse Hotel
If the best way for you to see the northern lights is from panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows in a chic, Scandanavian-designed suite perched over the treetops of Lapland, the Arctic Treehouse Hotel has your name on it. In the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland, this stylish hotel offers many free activities like snowshoeing during the winter months. The hotel also offers delectable dining at its restaurant, Rakas.
How to book: Rates vary throughout the season but seem to start in the high $600 range and jump to over $1,000 a night in December.
A resort in the Lofoten Islands in Norway, this property comprises a series of cottages used by fishermen in the storybook village of Hamnoy. Seriously, it looks like a scene from a Disney movie.
According to the hotel, guests can hunt the northern lights for 182 days of the year while sleeping in waterfront cottages with large skylights. Being on the water, guests can take boat trips to take in the scenery from a distance and then join an outing with a guide or photographer to catch the show in the sky.
How to book: Though there are many different types of accommodations, from three-bedroom apartments to small cottages, rates are generally very affordable and can be found starting at $146 a night.