Chances are you’ve stayed in an overwater villa before. Or at least you can imagine the experience.
Gazing out across blue water. Listening to the silence. Lounging around the spa. Then jumping into an ice bath. Before looking up at the aurora borealis. Yes, the Arctic Bath isn’t the typical overwater hotel.
In the Maldives it’s 30℃. In Swedish Lapland it’s minus 30℃ and you need to pack more than just your swimwear. And can it still be an “overwater hotel”, when the water is frozen?
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At Arctic Bath, six wooden cabins are dotted along the Lule River’s edge, connected by a floating platform. Each cabin is minimalistically chic, in the way Scandinavian designers continually reinvent minimalism and chic.
A circular-shaped bathhouse is the centrepiece, comprising four saunas, a hot bath, a cold bath and the all important ice bath.
Where else can you sunbathe, before jumping into an ice bath then waiting for the Northern Lights to emerge?
Owners Britta and Kent Lindvall are not new to unusual hotel design. Their first project was the now iconic TreeHotel, where you can stay in a treehouse resembling a UFO, or a gigantic treetop bird’s nest.
Bertil Harstrom designed both the TreeHotel and Arctic Bath. His approach is always local:
“You don’t have to copy things made elsewhere, it’s not interesting. I think the interesting things come from your own history and your background.”
Harstrom was inspired by clusters of floating logs that would get caught adrift on the waterways around his Swedish childhood home.
“It was a symbol for that era,” Harström says. “So I chose to build this idea around the connection to the forest in the north.”
Unique design is one reason to visit the Arctic Bath. And for design, this is a really fresh perspective, especially after all the copycat ice hotels that now dominate Lapland. Where you sleep is not only part of the holiday experience, it’s the main reason to fly to Luleå Airport.
Up here you have the same appeals as a traditional overwater hotel in the tropics – exclusivity, space, spa, wellness, plus unique activities. It’s just a lot closer to home and the activities are different. Here you go bear watching, horseback riding, ice fishing, watching the Northern Lights and joining the Sami people and their reindeer.
The winter season runs until April 22nd. Arctic Bath is also open Thursdays to Sundays from June to October, where the summer experience is all about the midnight sun. You still have an ice bath, but for these few months your room is “floating.”
When travel still has some uncertainties, this is a place where you can completely escape from other people, in a beautiful and wild setting, that’s only a 2.5-hour flight from home. And experience one of the chicest new properties anywhere in the world.