THE SERENE SPECTACLE
DESPERATE TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL? HEAD TO THE FOLLOWING DESTINATIONS, WHERE YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO SPOT A BEAR OR MOOSE THAN ANOTHER HUMAN
Sometimes, the post-Christmas fallout leaves you wanting to get as far away from people as possible. If that’s you, forget the fairy lights and focus on the Northern Lights with a trip to Lapland – but don’t worry, you won’t find annoyingly perky elves or ruddy-cheeked Santas at the particular destination we’re recommending. At the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland, you can spend the night in a cosy glass igloo, allowing you to admire the Northern Lights without stepping outside.
We’re also huge fans of Sweden’s Icehotel, which became a permanent fixture in 2016. This year’s version will have 35 suites, an ice bar and an ice ceremony hall, and you’ll be able to sign up for Northern Lights snowmobile tours and arctic yoga lessons. Although a word of warning – a visit to the Icehotel might sound rather romantic, but it’s not. You’ll snooze inside a double-layered sleeping bag, and will be warned against showering before bed to avoid adverse reactions to the sudden drop in temperature. And if you decide you’re not cut out for sub-zero slumber, don’t panic, because all guests get a ‘warm room’ in the adjoining hotel as a backup option. Survive the night, and you’ll be woken by a member of staff dispensing tumblers of warm lingonberry juice from a special dispenser.
If you love the mountains but don’t fancy sleeping on a block of ice, head to the beautiful Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff National Park. This castle-like hotel is one of Canada’s largest, and its location, perched on the edge of a forested lake, means there are plenty of opportunities for long winter walks. When it’s time to dine, you can choose between 12 restaurants, although our favourite is the cosy Rundle Lounge, with its spectacular views of the mountains.