Five Nordic summer getaways
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
An all-night Arctic idyll in far northern Norway
Sorrisniva, just outside Alta in Norway’s most northerly reaches, has been open for years. In the past it has billed itself as the country’s premier igloo hotel and wilderness lodge – a place for winter freaks to get their sub-zero adventure on, in landscapes full of otherworldly beauty, and scant traces of humanity. But recent evolutions of the offering mean that Sorrisniva is today one of Norway’s most compelling year-round destinations.
Consider the season they call the “midnight sun” lasting from late May until August, when the light never fades from the sky, and guests of the lodge on the banks of the Alta River – equal parts quintessential scandi-contemporary and bunker-like Bond-villain lair – can avail themselves of hiking, horseback riding, crab-fishing, riverboats and helicopters. The remote coordinates haven’t defeated the chefs in the slightest: the lodge is renowned for the quality of its ingredients and gorgeous presentation, from the char, salmon and moose carpaccio to the cranberry granita. sorrisniva.no, from about £225
Chic digs and festivals in Oslo
In Oslo, August is festival season, with the focus on music (from 8 to 12 August there’s Oya, for rock, pop and electronica: Devo headlines this year’s line-up) to Oslo Jazz (from 13 to 19 August; the full line-up is here). Sommerro made waves when it opened here last summer – a historic bathing house and 231-room hotel, remade as one of the city’s chicest stays. The same team has just opened Villa Inkognito, right next door.
The patrician 1870 building has been restored as a sumptuous 11-suite private villa, with multiple sitting rooms, and snugs, dining and meetings rooms, bar and open kitchen, and an ultra-modern gym tucked neatly into its subterranean space. Guests have access to Sommerro’s attractions and amenities (the famous public baths, rooftop pool, restored theatre and half-a-dozen restaurants). When Inkognito is not bought out by families or groups, rooms can be booked individually. sommerrohouse.com, from £455
Midnight sun and saunas in Finnish Lapland
Ylläs may be a few hundred kilometres south of Alta, but it’s still north enough to be deep in Finnish Lapland. It’s here that 35-year-old Sirly Ylläsjärvi and 39-year-old Heidi Seikkula opened Aurora Estate in 2015. Ylläsjärvi, who in Finland is a culinary star, cookbook author and MasterChef regular, oversees the 50-cover fine-dining restaurant, where the seatings are of five courses and the wine list wouldn’t be out of place in London.
Both Ylläsjärvi and Seikkula, who consults on hospitality and hotel openings across Lapland and Finland, saw to the creation of the spaces, including the seven rooms – unassuming and comfortable, all warm timber, clean lines and big downy beds. There is also a 100-year-old sauna and Jacuzzi house, and acres of lakeside meadow and woodland to explore on foot; in summer, guests often walk to the top of the nearby fell at midnight to admire the views. auroraestate.fi, rooms from about €113
Denmark’s Baltic bolthole
Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea, is one of Denmark’s favourite summer places, with a bit of something for everyone: medieval ruins and a fascinating second world war history, a rich craft tradition (it’s the first European place to be designated a World Craft Region by the World Craft Council), gorgeous beaches and dunes crisscrossed by hiking trails, roadside stalls peddling strawberries and a handful of restaurants trading in Copenhagen-level sophistication (sea buckthorn, that super-est of superfoods and a local mainstay, gets a lot of play here).
The Nordlandet, up on the island’s northern tip, is informed by a clean Copenhagen sensibility. The rooms are modernist perfection: low beds, tall sliding or picture windows framing perfect sea horizons, the odd bit of Hans Wegner furniture in a corner, handmade tiles from Italy in the bathrooms, and a few vast private terraces. The restaurant is an island destination, and Underbar, the alfresco cocktail venue, a good bet for your sundowner wherever you stay. nordlandet.dk, from about £157
Calling all gourmands – and thrill-seekers – to Norway’s fjordlands
If what you’re eating is more important than where you’re based, adventure fixers Pelorus, Norwegian travel-ops company 62°Nord and culinary-experience makers SKANDL have just launched an intriguing collaboration. “A Taste for Adventure” is a minimum three- and ideally five-day itinerary that combines explorations of Norway’s fjordlands with masterclasses in fishing, foraging, open-fire cooking and more, led by Michelin-starred chefs; first up are Henrik Ritzen and Harry Faddy, who man the kitchens at the London outpost of Aquavit.
Guests will stay at one of 62°Nord’s two local properties, Hotel Union Øye or the Storfjord Hotel, from which excursions will leave each day – on foot, by boat (kayak, power, or otherwise) and possibly the odd helicopter. pelorusx.com, minimum six guests; enquire for pricings.