ELISA ELWIN and her family cosy up at a charming, family-run retreat in Sweden
The Lapland Guesthouse lies in the heart of Swedish Lapland and has a reputation for creating authentic and highly personalised stays. Owner/Operators Eva and Johan (with the help of their son Elias) have created a destination where you can disconnect from the world and immerse yourself in the traditions and hospitality of Lapland. We had heard about its magical atmosphere and hauntingly beautiful setting, so we wanted to experience it for ourselves in the depth of winter – January. The Christmas lights were still twinkling and the snow was thick and dry, with just a few hours of majestic twilight illuminating the landscape between 10am and 2pm each day.
The Lapland Guesthouse is located on the banks of the Lainio River in the small village of Kangos in northern Sweden. It’s a two-hour drive from Kittila Airport (which has year-round connections to Helsinki), or 30 minutes from Pajala Airport (from where you can connect to Luleå and on to Stockholm). All ground transportation is organised by the guesthouse, with Elias picking up guests and returning them at the end of their stay.
Five lovingly restored, rustic buildings scatter the property, not only oozing character but providing a variety of room configurations. With two adults and two kids in our party, we stayed in the very comfortable Viking Cabin, which fuses a snow-inspired and Viking theme. It felt like a home away from home, with two bedrooms, a loft, a living area and a bathroom, not to mention a lovely fireplace that kept us toasty warm each evening. In the middle of winter, temperatures can drop to -30 degrees. But rather than hauling your own snow gear across the world, the Lapland Guesthouse has a large room packed with snow-proof clothing in sizes ranging from child to XL.
While seeing the northern lights is a highlight of any stay (and the owners went above and beyond to make sure we did), there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy. From snowmobiling to feeding the reindeers and experiencing the enthusiasm of their huskies while dog sledding, you’ll have a new appreciation of just how much fun you can have in the snow. But the real treat is coming home each afternoon to thaw out in the traditional wood-fired sauna or soak beneath the stars in the hot tub. It’s a surreal experience in the minus temperatures. If you want to go dog sledding but are travelling with littlies, it’s safe and secure for them to sit on parents’ laps.
Delicious (full board) meals are served at a large communal table while you exchange stories of your adventures with your fellow guests. Locally sourced and home-cooked, the dishes are inspired by traditional Lapland cuisine and the owners are happy to cater to fussy kids and any special dietary requirements. If Eva is making her chanterelle soup, you’re in luck – it may just be the best soup I’ve ever had!
In Kangos you’ll find a traditional church, a school and a grocery store. If you’re visiting during the summer months, try to time it to be there for Laxfestivalen in July, when fishermen come from near and far to lure record-breaking salmon, accompanied by plenty of live music and dancing under the midnight sun.
Norra Byavägen 132, 980 63 Kangos, Sweden