You've seen these Glass Igloos everywhere on the internet, but how EXACTLY do you get there? And the most important question is, how expensive is it?
As with any other questions in life, the answer is - it depends. There's the easy way, and there's the hard(er) way. If you were to go with a travel agent/group, it is a high end tourism package. However, I went there the adventurous way, which is also the most affordable way, by far.
Here's my round the arctic and back in 9 days planning and budget. With around GBP 600 (per person), we stayed in the infamous Glass Igloos @Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, plus breezed through the capitals of Norway, Sweden and Finland. We saved two nights of hotel to pay for the one night at the Glass Igloo, which costed us around GBP 366 (An Igloo for two). We did so by sleeping (twice) on the 13 hour nigh train from Helsinki to/from Rovaniemi (which is where the Santa Claus Village is! - see my other post > http://goo.gl/6NAO3R).
If you're not a fan of the 13 hour train + 5 hour bus form Helsinki to Kakslauttanen, you can take the direct plane to Rovaniemi or Kakslauttanen from Helsinki. Last time I checked the plane ticket weren't too expensive, but more vulnerable to weather conditions + delays, and you may have to pay for 2 extra nights of hotels.
Here's my cold country tour shown graphically. Starting from:
London > Oslo, Norway (Plane) > Stockholm, Sweden (Train) > Helsinki, Finland (Plane) > Rovaniemi - Santa Claus Village (Train) > Glass Igloos @Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort (Bus) > Rovaniemi (Bus) > Helsinki, Finland (Train) > London (Plane)
My spreadsheet above have detailed cost breakdown and duration for each transport.
Going to the coldest places on this planet during the coldest months is definitely worth it, but once in a lifetime is enough for me :P .
There's the dining hall, the meals was not included in the room price. Was it overpriced? Food quality wise, yes. Was there anything else to eat within walkable distance? No. Hence, it was reasonably overpriced. It was such an experience eating in a fairytale-like wooden chalet.
During dinner, we met others who were also staying at the resort (the Glass Igloo part), and to my surprise, 100% of them were tour groups, and at that time 90% of them were form Hong Kong. And the receptionist even spoke cantonese... WOW! we rock :D
On another note, we had difficulties booking the Glass Igloos before the trip (we searched within a year's period) as they were locked down by many tour groups. However the day before our departure we decided to check again... and someone must've cancelled something... we managed an Igloo!!
The arctic sunset is stunning and this is what the bus stop looks like, in the middle of no where... Hence make sure you check the bus times, you won't survive out here for very long, it was minus 21 degree celsius.
As we could only afford one night in the Glass Igloos, I prayed for clear skies to see the aurora. And yay! Praise the Lord :) His creation is so beautiful. It is rather shaky, cos I don't have the best of cameras, and it was VERY COLD.
The morning was covered by a pink hue. There's a small toilet in the Igloos, but no bathrooms, so you have to walk to the main building. Even though the walk is not very long, make sure you don't underestimate the distance and temperature. Another heads up, the shower was communal with gender split, like normal swimming pool's facilities.
It was so cold that the snowflakes did not even melt on my camera.
There were many activities to keep you busy and adventurous.
Here's the pic that's everywhere on the internet, it really does look like this. And now you know how to get there, affordably ;)
Here's their official website: http://goo.gl/O7VDhX
I booked via Booking.com... remember to keep checking even days before your arrival, someone might cancel.
East Village Booking: http://goo.gl/rF2Lwl
West Village Booking: http://goo.gl/eJTzoj