This Lodge Is the Arctic Base Camp of Our Dreams
Hike, fish, and ski Europe's last stretch of wilderness from Niehku Mountain Villa in Swedish Lapland
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While Sweden’s summer is endlessly light-filled, much of the rest of the year is cold, wet, and dark. So residents embrace this mantra: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. That philosophy extends to their relationship with the land. Allemansratten, or freedom to roam, is a Scandanavian law that gives people the right to (respectfully) walk, cycle, forage, ski, and camp on anyone’s land. At Niehku Mountain Villa in Swedish Lapland, some 120 miles from the Arctic Circle, these principles are very much in evidence. Raised with a reverence for nature, owners Jossi Lindblom and Patrik Strömsten see their roles less as hoteliers than as stewards of the land.
From their doorstep along the Swedish-Norwegian border, helicopters access 60 skiable mountain peaks, with terrain that rivals Alaska’s. Lindblom, a former mountain guide, and Strömsten, a ski racer turned sommelier, communicate regularly with the local Sami people to make sure their heli drops don’t interfere with the thousands of reindeer herding along the mountains.
Built into a former rail-line roundhouse from the early 1900s, the 14-room lodge reflects both the region and the owners’ passions. Strömsten runs the dining room, pairing ingredients sourced from the surrounding tundra, like cloudberries and moose, with wines stored in her 500-bottle cellar, while Lindblom manages the gear room, stocked with top-shelf Salomon equipment for all-season adventure. Because there’s a lot more to do than ski. In summer, anglers cast placid waters for Arctic char, trout, and perch, and in fall, guests hike or mountain-bike out the door down to Norwegian fjords.
Access: Take a 90-minute flight from Stockholm to Kiruna; from there, it’s an hour-and-a-half drive to the lodge. Rooms from $300; or, March to May, book a three-day heli-skiing package, from $4,430 per person, that includes a guide, equipment, meals, and accommodations.
Weather: Swedish Lapland is said to have eight seasons, and it’s not unusual to experience half of them in a single day. During winter, temperatures range from 3 to 37 degrees; in summer, from 50 to 60. May through July, you can play 24/7 under the midnight sun.
Detour: Abisko National Park, a 40-minute drive from Niehku, has perpetual cloud-free skies that make it one of the best places on the planet to observe the northern lights, visible from September through March. For the best views, ride the chairlift to Aurora Sky Station.