Hotel & Flight Reviews

Europe, Finland, Hotel & Flight Reviews, Travel

The Best Glass Igloos In Finland (Lapland)


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Deep in the Finnish Lapland lie these magical igloos that usually operate for about half a year from September to March. This is also the period when the sky gets darker during the winter months, coinciding with the Aurora Borealis over the skies of the northern hemisphere. These beautiful dancing lights stretch from Nordic countries such as Norway, all the way to the North American region in Alaska and Canada. Travellers from all over the world venture as north as possible in hopes of chancing upon the mystical green skies, which contribute to tourist booms especially during this time of the year.

Nothing really compares to the sight of the Northern Lights from the comfort of a warm glass igloo. I have heard of many travellers who spend up to two weeks in the Artic Circle only to be disappointed due to either cloudy night skies or low aurora index. On the other end of the spectrum, I have heard of people jumping for joy with tears of happiness when their eyes first glimpsed the lights. I caught my first sighting back when I traveled to Iceland in 2016. They were simply magical and kept you wanting to see more of its spectacular nature. Again, I was blessed to have caught the Northern Lights together with the love of my life this time on my honeymoon trip to the Finnish part of Lapland. Read about my Finnish Lapland road trip here.

Northern Lights Village

If you are looking for a wholesome Artic Circle experience in the Finnish Lapland, look nowhere else – Northern Lights Village is the top choice as it specialises in not just accommodation but creating a uniquely customized experience. It is located in Saariselkä, about an hour’s drive away from Ivalo airport. We visited during the autumn months, away from the winter crowd. Northern Lights tours can be booked and professionally organized by the warm and knowledgeable staff who are ready to go the extra mile to make your experience that much more special. There are two main options for the tours –  a viewing by the lake in Inari or at the border town of Nellim. I recommend to stay a minimum of 2-3 nights to give yourself a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights around the area. If you have a car and want to go Northern Lights hunting on your own, check out Kaunispää to get away from the village lights. The gate of Lapland’s gold fields lies at Tankavaara which is easily accessible by car to find out more about the history of gold mining in Finland. Tours to Inari can also be organized or self-driven. My favourite part of the experience was the husky farm visit at Extreme Huskies. We tried husky sledding on wheels since there was note yet any snow fall in September. If you are looking for a Finnish sauna experience, there is a shared sauna on site to enjoy.

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Indulge in the personalized cabins with a simple touch of luxury

 

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We caught the auroras right outside our igloos!

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The in-house restaurant cooks up scrumptious meals for its guests

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You can see how well the huskies are trained for these runs

Santa’s Igloos Artic Circle

This is the igloo experience to go for if you are heading to Rovaniemi – Santa Claus’ hometown. Located right beside the Santa Claus Village, its location is perfect to explore the surroundings by foot. Rovaniemi city centre is just a short distance away, reachable ideally by car or bus services in Santa Claus village. I recommend to book the family igloos which comes with a private sauna attached to the room as you get to experience a true Finnish sauna at your discretion. There are various activities (other than the magical Santa Claus village) in the area such as ice fishing in winter, husky rides and of course, Northern Lights viewing. Beyond Artic is one of best companies around providing photography expeditions, it is run by a bunch of passionate and adventurous photographers. For a great time hanging out with Husky pups, you can’t miss Bearhill Husky, which is a working dog kernel. The owner of the kernel Valentijin, is super passionate about his dogs and visitors get to learn a lot about the life of a husky growing up and being trained throughout the different seasons. There are also opportunities get up close and personal to play with the huskies, which is a huge plus!

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Aurora across the northern skies right outside our igloo at Santa Igloos Artic Circle. Kp index is about 1-2 that night and we had to look north to find it.

 

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Photography tour with Beyond Artic, shot taken by Juho

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The igloo’s reception and dining area

Levin Iglut

Located in the ski town of Levi, Levin Iglut is one of my favourites when it comes to the comfort of the igloo. I recommend to go for the premium ones with unobstructed views of the valley. Each igloo comes equipped with simple cooking facilities if you are looking prepare some simple meals. Your booking includes breakfast at Restaurant Aurora Sky. A half-board dinner is also available during high season. It is a gorgeous place to explore the wilderness of Finnish Lapland, check out the drone footage below.

 

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Gorgeous view of the valley from our premium igloo

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The sky comes alive at night, a clear night with a good KP index will give you good chance of spotting the northern lights.

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Restaurant Aurora Sky – have you thought about having a meal here while watching the sun go down?

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We had the opportunity to find out more about Levin Iglut from Kristiina who started the place about 3 years ago. She plans to keep the number of igloos constant instead of expanding in order to continue providing a personalised touch to each of her guests’ experience.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

This is probably one of the most famous igloos in Lapland due to heavy media coverage in recent times. Personally, I did not have the chance to stay there (they are not opened during autumn) but I would love to check it out someday! Nevertheless I visited the area from the outside it definitely looked like an awesome choice to experience igloo living.

 

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Due to our limited stay in the Finnish Laplands, this is all the info we have for now. Have you got an awesome igloo to recommend? Drop a comment and we would absolutely love to check it out!

Greece, Hotel & Flight Reviews, Travel

Where To Stay In Santorini – Review Of Loizos Stylish Residences


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You will be spoiled for choices when it comes to choosing accommodation in Santorini, especially in the summer. The accommodation areas are mainly located in the 3 towns, namely Fira (capital), Oia and Imerovigli. I had this opportunity with stay with Loizos Stylish Residences during my time in Fira. It took place during the month of November which is considered off-season in Santorini. There were still considerable amount of people checking in and out daily, which really shows the good reputation and hence the good crowd numbers.

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The pin is where Loizos is located at

The main thing that caught my eye about this accommodation was the price and quality of stay ratio. The subsequent checks were reviews and location of the residences itself. Reviews were fantastic on various media platforms such as TripAdvisor and Facebook. It is located at one end of a street, a short walk the supermarket and city centre. Overall, location is superb for the price and comfort. They do have tie-ups with tours and car/ATV rentals. Do consider booking through them because of their long-standing reputation in Santorini. We have stayed with a few hotels and Airbnb apartments in Santorini and Athens, nothing beats Loizos Stylish Residences’ hospitality. Definitely a optimal choice for families and couples! Let the pictures do the talking.

Lovely entrance leading to the main check-in area. Transportation can be arranged to and fro airport and also other locations on Santorini such as Oia.

An outdoor area to hang out at, perfect for summers. Loizos Stylish Residences is on a couple of booking sites such as Expedia and Booking.com.

Another part of the outdoor area.

Path leading to the gorgeous views of the caldera

Breakfast can be arranged separately at the cost of EUR 8 per pax at the time of writing

They have got a good spread of breakfast varieties

The walkway leading to different rooms

Loft studio which has a balcony and stairs leading to the sleeping area

The main area to chill out

There is a phone available to call local lines. We found this rare among the accommodation in Santorini. This is definitely a plus.

The TV comes with cable channels.

The loft studio is good for 3 pax, one on the sofa and two on the bed above.

We love the super comfortable mattress and foamy pillows.

Cheers to Irene who made many recommendations and information available to us! Special thanks to owner, Lefteris who introduced the history of the residences and Santorini!

Hotel & Flight Reviews, Travel

How I Singlehandedly Hack Credit Cards Promotions To A One-Way Ticket to NYC On Singapore Airlines


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Get ready for this rough ride of my introduction to the whole credit card system where you can take advantage of it in the most legal manner. I am sure most of you guys have at least a vacation or two in a year. And what if I tell you can get free tickets by being just more interested and particular about the way credit card redemption work?

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  • Rebates Or Rewards Credit Cards?

In my opinion, stick to one and this is how you will benefit most from it. To be able to achieve spending and welcome bonus miles on Singapore Airlines Frequent Flyer Program which is also known as the Krisflyer, go for the travel credit cards. They are usually rewards credit cards. And some of these cards come with premium lounges access at airports all over the world. However, minimum annual income tends to be at least $50000 per annum. Refer to this really nice website, FlyStayTravel for the introduction to all the credit cards where you can earn miles. My advice to you is to know which card gives you the best miles per $ spending for different categories. For example, there are different earning rates for Travel and Shopping, credit card dependent of course.

  • Why Krisflyer And Not Other Programs?

The Singapore Airlines has an extensive network of partners where you can redeem and earn your flights miles. Online redemption of Krisflyer miles gives you a 15% discount, so why not? Singapore Airlines is also one of the best airlines in the world in terms of comfort and service, certainly worth the miles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 6.36.16 pmSingapore Airlines is under the Star Alliance network, redemption and miles accrual can be done with any of these airlines.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 6.09.52 pmThis is my current miles balance. Take note that I do not spend excessively to earn miles. I consider myself a saver than a spender. Instead I make the most of credit card sign-up bonuses and try to accumulate my spending to specific cards. Honestly around 50% of my miles balance came from sign-up and spending bonuses. This amount of miles is obtained through a spending of around SGD5000. If you have a big purchase, this can be easily obtained. It depends on the spending habits, it may take some people 3 months, some 9 months. Each to their own. Regardless of which, think about it and you will realize that it’s a fantastic deal.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 6.07.36 pmAn economy class one-way ticket from Singapore to New York City via Frankfurt costs 31875 miles after the 15% discount for online redemption. Take note that redemption is only for the price of the ticket, you still need to pay for the taxes and surcharges, in this case is SGD419.90.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 6.08.47 pmAnd here’s how much it costs if you were to buy it one-way! Ridiculously expensive, even more than a return. Not a very fair comparison here but it’s Singapore Airlines. Most people buy return tickets except for students studying overseas etc. And so, $419.90 for an economy one-way ticket to NYC is a steal.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 8.31.23 pmA search on suites class on the same flight came up with 93500 miles and SGD447.50. Look like it’s a lot of miles but certainly attainable. How much if you are paying in full?

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 8.32.05 pmA hefty SGD11067.50! Worth it to pay in full? No, certainly does not make any economical sense unless you are on a business trip.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 6.12.49 pmFancy somewhere nearer from Singapore? Return tickets to Beijing costs 34000 miles and SGD353.50. Notice that flight tickets and accommodation costs take up a huge bulk of your traveling budget. Save on the tickets and you can spend it better elsewhere. Sound logical?

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 6.43.06 pmThis is the award charts for Krisflyer saver award flights redemption. But saver award means that you have to book the tickets more advance than usual because there is a certain quota on those redemption and they usually run out fast. In my opinion, the miles are worth most when you use it on long haul destinations or non-economy class tickets. If you were to look at the miles required for award flights between economy and suites class for the different zones, they are increasing exponentially. However they are less than prices differences if you were to pay fully for the tickets, this explains why miles are actually more worth it for business/suites class redemption.

  • Premium Lounges Access

Out of miles redemption for business or suites class tickets which give you access to lounges access at airports around the world? Or you are traveling on budget airlines? Having the right travel credit cards gives you this for free. DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card gives you Priority Pass Membership and 4 free access a year. Refer to here for details. ANZ Travel Visa Signature Credit Card allows free and unlimited access to Veloce Lounges. Facilities are these lounges varies from refreshments to shower rooms.

All of the above is definitely not hard to achieve but it takes a little effort from you to know your stuff. And in return you save money and get better experiences.