We were met on the road by Patricia Cowern, owner of the Northern Lights Apartments and Arctic-Color gallery in Porjus, who greeted us warmly and led the way to our cabin. The complex comprises of 4 wooden cabins aptly named: Vinter Ljus (Winter Lights), Ruska (Autumn), Norrsken (Northern Lights) and Midnattsol (Midnight Sun), the use of a sports hall and Patricia’s own home and art gallery. The apartments lie alongside a single railway track, buried deep under snow during the winter but functional in the summer and her house is in fact the old railway station. Patricia, originally hailing from Wiltshire in the UK, bought the house after falling in love with Sweden’s north and moved here with her husband Lars in order to introduce tourists to the phenomenon of the Northern Lights, a subject which she has photographed extensively and become an expert. Even after fifteen years and hundreds of visitors, she still enthusiastically scans the skies every night for the first traces of the Aurora and alerts her guests immediately so that they don’t miss any part of the action. Her disappointment after a night of quiet light activity is evident and you get the impression that if she could control the Aurora to ensure her guests get the very best of the experience she would.
The cabins are clean, colourful and comfortable. Guests pay for a room in the apartment and can either opt for a room in a shared apartment or a private apartment. A room costs 550kr a night and each cabin has a bathroom, space for clothes storage, a lounge complete with TV/DVD player, and a modern kitchen. Photographs of the Northern Lights, taken by Patricia herself, adorn the walls and thoughtful touches such as flowers, clocks, cushions, throws and magazines in magazine racks create a homely feel; this is neither a hotel nor a hostel. Each apartment looks out over the lake and towards the most common direction of Aurora activity, offering you the option of watching the spectacle from your own window. The Apartments have access to wireless internet but as our cabin was the furthest from the house the signal was low and couldn’t always be reached. This can be forgiven up here though where the pressure of the modern world seems so distant and unimportant.
Patricia’s highest priority is that her guests have everything they need for an unforgettable experience under her hospitality and there is no length that she won’t go to to achieve this. She seems to have an unlimited supply of winter clothing for those who arrive unprepared and makes sure that you do not venture outside until you are properly equipped with snow boots, thick socks, gloves, protective outer-layers, and she even gave us a head-torch to enable us to watch our step when walking down to the lakeside in the dark. Ski equipment is available at no extra cost and is good quality gear. When our laptops would not connect to the Wi-Fi she immediately offered us the use of her own laptop for the duration of our stay. And when the famous lights do explode across the northern skies, she stands out alongside her guests relishing their enthusiasm and wonder.
Northern Lights Apartments are suitable for any type of traveller: a family could easily occupy one of the larger cabins, couples can enjoy a romantic break in one of the private cabins, solo travellers can stay in a room within a shared cabin and meet other like-minded travellers—Patricia’s warm and friendly welcome would make this an easy place to visit alone—and larger groups could perhaps book all the cabins, the place is so remote that you would not disturb anybody else. Although this is not the place to come to if you are looking for a party, relaxing amongst the beauty and power of nature is the sole reason to come here.
NB: additional activities that can be booked through Patricia include ski instruction, dog-sledding, Ice Hotel and snowmobile hire. Patricia also runs photography courses throughout the year. You can find links to the apartments and gallery below: