On the banks of a lake edged with forest in eastern Finland stands the 44-room Hotelli Kalevala, named after Finland's national epic. In summer, shimmering blue water is bordered by a sandy beach with a handful of little boats on hand to explore the islands. In winter, everything is white, a snow-and-ice wonderland criss-crossed by skating trails, with sledges replacing the boats. Expeditions can be arranged in summer to canoe, pick berries (blueberries, cloudberries, and more), look for wildlife, or go fishing.
In winter, you can drive huskies, go on sleigh rides, go cross-country skiing and take snowmobile safaris. Families are welcome, especially over Christmas when there is a full children's programme, including Father Christmas. In any season, there are three saunas: normal, peat heated and infra-red. In winter, the brave can take a post-sauna dip through a hole in the ice.
Clever design means that almost every room has a lake view – through large picture windows. In our suite (one of three) we could even see the forest pines from the whirlpool bath. The room had a chic look, with a modern metal four-poster bed, large bright cushions and an abstract painting. Beneath the shiny bedspread, though, was a comfortable homely quilt.
The food and drink
The dining room has wonderful views over the lake, especially from the conservatory (with an open fireplace for winter), and serves local Finnish dishes. We had smoked reindeer with forest mushroom, pike-perch in a parcel and Finnish cheese with cloudberry sauce. From the restaurant terrace, steps lead down to the beach and an enclosure where drinks can be taken in true Finnish style around an open fire. Breakfast is a buffet ranging from Scandinavian herring, cheese and cold cuts to porridge, eggs and American waffles.
The hotel is wheelchair accessible as are some summer activities. In winter, only horse sleigh riding is possible. Special rooms for allergy sufferers are available.
Doubles from ¿110 (£78.60) per room per night (based on two people sharing) including breakfast and evening sauna. Packages from the UK (including flights, transfers and optional activities) start at £529 through Mighty Fine Company (0845 072 0090; mightyfinecompany.com).
Hotelli Kalevala, Vainamoinen 9, 88900 Kuhmo, Finland (00 358 8655 4102; hotellikalevala.fi).
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