Lapland Hotel Oulu Offers Nordic Luxury and Reindeer Tongue For Cold Finnish Nights

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When traveling recently to Oulu, Finland for a startup tour, our hosts booked us into the Lapland Hotel Oulu. This turned out not only be a perfect spot from which to explore Finland’s fourth largest city, but also a great location to experience the hospitality and charm of Northern Finland’s culture and people.

Lapland Hotel Oulu

Oulu, with a population of around 250,000, is located 600 kilometers north of Helsinki. The city likes to call itself the Capital of Northern Scandanavia, and sits just south of the Finland’s Lapland region.

This particular trip took place in mid-March, when there were still several feet of snow and the ground, and temperatures could dip down to -15 degrees Celsius at night.

Lapland Hotel Oulu

Arriving from the airport via a taxi, the first glimpse inside the hotel was reassuring. The reception area radiated warm and cozy vibes from the minute one walked into the lobby and spotted the fireplace with the reindeer antlers hung just above. Indeed, reindeer are plentiful in this region, and it was clearly a theme the hotel embraced.

Lapland Hotel Oulou

Lapland Hotel Oulu

The Rooms

That sense of comfort extended right up to our rooms. Our hosts had booked is into Lapland’s “Comfort Queen,” which included a queen-sized bed, a large shower area, big TV, and a reckless number of pillows. The hotel describes the decor officially as “Lappish elegance,” which I can only assume menas “lots of reindeers.”

Lapland Hotel Oulu

Lapland Hotel Oulu

If I were going to come again, I’d seriously consider upgrading to the De Luxe King, which has a bathtub, or the Premium De Luxe King, which also has its own private sauna. While the hotel has an array of saunas downstairs, they only operated from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., so didn’t get a chance to spend much time there. On the other hand, it would have been nice to jump in the sauna in the morning, or later at night!

Lapland Hotel Oulu

The Food

Because we were being whisked around town to various events during the week, we only had a chance to one dinner at the hotel. But it delicious and certainly memorable. We started with a tasty, cold white fish and beets starter.

Then the main course arrived, determined to stick with the general theme: Reindeer meat with reindeer tongue on top for good measure. When the plates arrived, our group looked at each other, and then at the waiters to verify what they said: Yes, it’s a reindeer tongue. And so, when in Oulu…we dove into the plate. In truth, the reindeer tongue tasted just like beef, with a similar texture. It was delicious, though I’m not sure I’d deliberately order it again.

And finally: Chocolate cake, mushroom ice cream and marinated lingonberries. Because it wouldn’t be a trip to Scandanavia without eating lingonberries. 

The rooms also include a breakfast buffet every morning, which offers just about everything you could want or need to start the day. Naturally, having been fully indoctrinated into easting Oulu-style, I had to order the reindeer omelette.

The Surroundings

Stepping right outside the Lapland’s door, we were right on the edge of the city center. In between various meetings and events, we had just a bit of time to explore the city itself. But during the down time, I took to wandering aimlessly through the city just to take in the winter ambiance and discover a bit of the local architecture.

As I live in the southwest of France, I don’t get to see a lot of snow except when we escape to the mountains in the winter. So it was just lovely to roam the city and gaze at the enormous snow drifts and glad that I had packed enough thick layers.

Inevitably this leads one to the waterfront, and the watchful eye of what may be Oulu’s most famous landmark: A bronze statue of a chubby policeman known as “Toripolliisi.” Every visitor is obligated to post at least one Instagram photo of Toripolliisi, created to honor the police man who used to patrol the city.

By the time our week in Oulu was over, I was ready to head back to less frigid climates. But the stay at the Lapland Hotel Oulu certainly made it easy to enjoy the frosty days and nights from a warm and welcoming perch.

Disclosure: My travel and lodging was paid for by Business Oulu. All opinions are my own.

Chris O'Brien
Chris O'Brien is an American journalist living in Toulouse, France. Before moving in 2014, he was based in Silicon Valley for 15 years, he wrote about technology and startups for the San Jose Mercury News and Los Angeles Times. Currently, he is European Correspondent for VentureBeat, and freelances for a wide range of publications.
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