We like to feature remarkable rooms on The Great Destinations Radio Show. And if you like getting very close to nature, you’ll love the accommodation that we’ve found in Sweden and Finland.
I spoke to Kirsi Jokela from specialist tour company Best Served Scandinavia. As part of a five-day tour, they’re offering a night’s stay in the Bird’s Nest room, high up in the forest canopy on Granö Beckasin, an island in the Ume River in Swedish Lapland. Kirsi told me why the accommodation is so special. “They’re suspended up in the trees, overlooking the river and the treetops.”
And she said they’re an ideal spot for experiencing the unique light in this part of the world. “There are ceiling windows that nicely let the light in, if it’s the late-night sun season. And in the winter it’s an ideal spot to view the Northern Lights.” But of course, the real benefit is how close the treehouses will get you to the local wildlife. “It’s an ideal spot to view the birds and you wake up to bird song in the morning,” said Kirsi.
British travellers would normally associate Lapland with winter activities, so I asked Kirsi what it’s like in summer? “First of all there’s the midnight sun. The sun doesn’t set so the days are very long, which is an experience in itself,” she explained. “It’s a peaceful place in the summer. There are lots of outdoor activities. The river lends itself to rafting or canoeing. Or you could have a sauna and a dip in the river.”
Another unusual accommodation experience being offered by Best Served Scandinavia is a night in a bear-watching hide in Finland. It’s based in Kuhmo one of the best places in Europe to see brown bears. “There are around 1200 to 1500 bears in Finland,” said Kirsi. “Most live near the Russian border. Some of them actually spend their winter hibernation there so they sort of commute between Finland and Russia.”
You’ll only be able to spot them in the summer, when they’re up and active. “They wake up around April or May from their winter hibernation and most active from June to August,” explained Kirsi. “That’s when you’re most likely to see them – when they’re coming to feed.” Kirsi said the bears are very shy and it’s unlikely you’ll see one in the wild. Using one of the hides is the best way to spot them. “They usually smell us before we see them. In all my time in Finland, I never came across a wild bear in the forest.”
And it’s not just bears you might spot, as Kirsi told me. “The period from the end of June to September, when the animals are most active, is when you can see interactions between wolves and bears or wolverines from the hides. It makes it a really prime spot for wildlife photography.”
Find out more about the Bird’s Nest rooms and the bear-watching hides at Best Served Scandinavia.