Isn’t life amazing? Sometimes, for me at least, it’s hard to believe we’re all here on this beautiful planet full of wonders like the Grand Canyon, giraffes, and the dazzling phenomenon we call the Northern Lights.
I was lucky enough to see the first two of these wonders, but the Northern Lights have eluded me so far. Probably because I’ve never been to the arctic regions where the almost alien green, yellow and sometimes red lights are most often spotted.
Sooner rather than later, I would like this trip to happen. Luckily, many of my colleagues here at The Points Guy have had their own adventures chasing the Northern Lights and have put together handy guides on set expectations for a trip and if it is best to see them by land, air or sea.
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No matter how you view them, chances are you 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 of a glass igloo in Finland, here are the best hotels to see the Northern Lights.
Ion Adventure Hotel
With only 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 reflect the lava fields the property calls home. At Northern Lights Bar, floor-to-ceiling windows offer great views of the landscape and sky outside. Hotel staff can arrange different types of adventures (there’s a reason it’s in the name) to get even closer to the magic of the sky.
How to book: Marriott Bonvoy members can book the Ion Adventure Hotel for as little as 66,000 points per night while cash rates start at around $375.
The hotel describes itself as “a cross between a hunting lodge and a (lavish) log cabin”. However, there also happens to be an observatory where a local astronomer helps guests see the cosmos, even with an untrained eye. If you’re worried about missing the lights in the middle of the night, just press a button on your in-room phone and the hotel aurora wake-up team will notify you when the glow begins.
How to book: A World of Hyatt Category 7 hotel, reward 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 ultra-chic hotels around the world, the 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 given its prime location in a trendy city that also happens to be a spot for viewing the Northern Lights. In the hotel, a great vantage point is The Roof Bar, which serves sustainably sourced food and drinks with stunning mountain and ocean views.
How to book: Cash rates for the Reykjavik Edition start at around $445 per night, while Marriott Bonvoy members can earn a reward night between 77,500 and 100,000 points per night.
Hilton Reykjavik Nordica
If you are a Hilton Honors member looking for the northern lights, consider staying at the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, one of three Hilton properties in the capital.
As our opinion on the ratings of the hotel, the location isn’t necessarily ideal if you’re looking to experience Reykjavik itself. However, it is a good starting point for the many adventures near the city, including those in search of the Northern Lights. After a busy night exploring the magic of the sky, you can return to the hotel and unwind in the spa, warm up in the sauna and sample a local beer at the bar.
How to book: Spot 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 just 34,000 points per night.
Star Arctic Hotel
The Finnish Lapland region 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 Kaunispaa Mountain, the hotel is exactly what you’d expect from a stylish Scandinavian hotel – and honestly, the design could rival the beauty of the Aurora itself. Here, you can book a Scenic View Suite with large windows to gaze at the lights, or opt for a glass-enclosed cabin so you can see them from your bed without even having to turn around. For the full Finnish experience, stop by the hotel restaurant to sample locally sourced reindeer meat and fish.
How to book: Depending on what time of year you visit, rates fluctuate quite significantly and availability is already nearly sold out for December. In November you can find rates below $200, but I found rates above $700 on the few dates open in December. In January, fares start at around $360.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Another property on the Lapland Finland list is the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
It is known for its glass-domed igloos that seem to allow the Northern Lights to envelop you like a blanket. Beyond light hunting, the resort offers many amazing activities like husky safaris, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and skiing. It’s a winter wonderland that has to be seen to be believed.
How to book: Nightly rates for the smaller glass igloo start at around $585 per night.
Most likely, not two trips to Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, will be the same. Indeed, each year a new iteration of the hotel is built from ice and snow that melts as it begins to warm after April.
While there are permanent accommodations year-round, pairing a trip to catch the Northern Lights with a stay in a temporary hotel made from Mother Earth’s natural elements is surely the only way to do it. As for experiences, the hotel can arrange dinners under the lights, photography classes to learn how to capture the perfect image, and nighttime snowmobile safaris to hunt them down at high speed.
How to book: Rates at the Icehotel depend on room type, but Snow Rooms can be found between $300 and $500 a night. As TPG reporter Emily McNutt discovered during her stay, you can also book a transfer from the airport by dog sled.
Northern Lights Resort & Spa
You don’t have to go all the way to Iceland or Scandinavia to see the Northern Lights. There are opportunities to see them in the Yukon of Canada. At Northern Lights Resort & Spanear the city of Whitehorse, Glass Cabins are available for booking and offer huge windows looking out to the sky right from the bed.
The resort offers a series of three- and four-night all-inclusive packages that include special viewing experiences, three meals a day, use of the saunas, winter clothing rentals, and even dog sledding.
How to book: For the 2022-23 season, the resort’s website warns that availability is scarce. For what’s 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 view the Northern Lights is from the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows of a chic Scandinavian-designed suite perched above the treetops of Lapland, the Arctic Treehouse Hotel has your name on it. Located in the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland, this elegant hotel offers many free activities such as snowshoeing during the winter months. The hotel also offers delicious meals in its restaurant, Rakas.
How to book: Rates vary throughout the season, but seem to start in the high $600 range and climb to over $1,000 per night in December.
A resort town in Norway’s Lofoten Islands, this property includes a series of cottages used by fishermen in the storybook village of Hamnoy. Seriously, this looks like a scene from a Disney movie.
According to the hotel, guests can chase the Northern Lights 182 days of the year while sleeping in waterfront cottages with large skylights. Being on the water, guests can take boat trips to admire the scenery from a distance, then join an outing with a guide or photographer to witness the spectacle in the sky.
How to book: Although there are many different types of accommodation, from three-bedroom apartments to small cabins, rates are generally very affordable and can be found from $146 a night.