We enjoyed some fantastic trips during 2017 but we ended the year with possibly the best holiday, a week in Finnish Lapland.
Ylläshilla: Accommodation in Finnish Lapland
In an act of serendipity, not long after moving back to the UK, I was put in touch with a British mum, Nicola, by one of my oldest school friends. Nicola loves family travel and has taken her three kids all over the world. It was a trip to Finland, however, that changed things. It was, she says, one of the most incredible places that she had ever visited. So struck was she by the place and the people that she decided to buy a home there in the town of Äkäslompolo, high above the Arctic Circle.
The traditional log cabin had previously been rented as a holiday home in Finnish Lapland but was tired and in need of a facelift. Nicola set about refurbishing the property and is now marketing the home as a destination for families – and anyone else who loves the great Arctic outdoors! I was the lucky person who got to visit and review the home (I know, tough job but…).
Ylläshilla (pronounced oolas-hilla) is a wooden cabin that sits within a picturesque forest setting on the outskirts of the village of Äkäslompolo. Built from local wood, it’s the kind of cabin traditionally found in fairytales, especially when blanketed by several feet of snow.
We visited in the middle of winter, the heart of polar night when the sun never quite makes it above the horizon, and we completely fell in love with the place. It’s hard to describe quite how magical a destination is when the majority of the time it is darkness, but the lack of light only adds to its beauty.
Accommodation at Ylläshilla
There are lots of hotels in Äkäslompolo, but if you would rather a home in Lapland then Ylläshilla is a brilliant option. I much prefer having a holiday rental when I travel, especially with the kids. Having a place with separate bedrooms and a kitchen makes a huge difference!
Ylläshilla can comfortably sleep 10 guests. There are three bedrooms on the ground floor; one double and two twin bedrooms. Upstairs is a large mezzanine level where a further four beds can be found. There’s also a baby cot and a stair gate if you happen to be travelling with young children. There are two toilets, one downstairs and one on the mezzanine level and a shower room and a private sauna, which is the norm in sauna-loving Finland.
Living Spaces at Ylläshilla
The ground floor houses an open-plan living / dining area with a new kitchen. There’s under-floor heating, which makes the house warm and toasty – especially when it’s -25C outside! There’s also a log fire in the living room.
One of the best things about Ylläshilla, however, is the kota. Kotas are shelters that have evolved from the traditional tipi like dwellings used by the Sami people of northern Scandinavia into permanent wooden structures. Kotas dot the landscape in this corner of the world and provide relief and shelter to everyone from walkers and cross-country skiers to families. Some are privately owned and some are open to the public and all have a large, central barbecue area or fire pit. The Kota at Ylläshilla is shared with the neighbouring cabin and is the perfect place for a party or, grilling sausages for breakfast!
There is a large terrace at the front of the property and an upstairs balcony that overlooks the forest. There is a separate woodshed for ski waxing and ski storage, a plug for car heating and an assortment of bicycles and sledges for your use. In summer the plunge pool in the garden behind the Kota is a lovely place to cool off.
Things to do at Ylläshilla in the winter
For ideas on visiting Lapland in winter with kids, take a look at this guide. The following are just some of the things that you can enjoy during the winter months:
- Cross-country skiing
- Downhill skiing
- Reindeer safaris
- Husky safaris
- Snowmobile safaris
- Fat tire biking
- Ice swimming and sauna
- Visit the Snow Village
- See the Northern Lights
- Meet Santa!
Things to do at Ylläshilla in the summer
I’ve yet to experience summer at Ylläshilla but I’m told that it’s a stunning place to visit. The sun does not set at all for two months, staying above the horizon for over 70 consecutive days. This phenomenon, known as the Midnight Sun, means you can do activities all the time! These include:
- Go fishing
- Wildlife watching
- Mountain biking
- Horseback riding
How to book at stay at Ylläshilla
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Disclosure: We received a complimentary stay at Yllashilla but, as always, all opinions are entirely my own. I think this is a wonderful property and can’t wait to go back!