Rovaniemi city during the spring

Looking for Love on the Arctic Circle

Hot on the trail from filming the penultimate episode in its 21st season in northern Lapland, the crew and stars of US reality TV series The Bachelor headed south to Rovaniemi in November 2016 to produce the tenth and last episode.

Fans of the ABC show will know that its narrative follows the gradual elimination of beautiful ladies by a single man looking for the love of his life. The final decision is ceremoniously announced in the last show of any season, so for that to be produced in the Rovaniemi area was a special honor.

Many devotees of The Bachelor are excited about visiting the locations where the show was filmed. Others might be thinking of setting their own romantic adventures in the same places and following in the footsteps of Nick Viall, the heart-throb hero of the show, and his dates. If they didn’t already know it, audiences will now be convinced that the cozy cabins and hotels of Finnish Lapland, combined with the pristine Arctic landscape, are about as romantic as it gets.

Rovaniemi, the provincial capital of Finnish Lapland, sits almost directly on the Arctic Circle, a location that in itself has a certain romantic ring. Talking of rings, look out in the city’s stores for jewelry made from local gold – yes, there really is gold in those hills – to be appropriately prepared for that big proposal. The city and its surrounding area are also spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation with intimate potential.

Perfect for bear hugs

The Bachelor chose the Lapland Hotel Bear’s Lodge, some 20 kilometers out of town, as their base. Secluded in the forest and perched on the edge of a small lake, the hotel has a certain Alpine air to it, with a hint of Nordic art deco. Ski trails head off into the woods and onto the fells and snowmobile safari adventures set off from the Lapland Safaris’ base, where visitors can also dress from nose to toe in Arctic-proof clothing.

The crew were here out of season, and while the hotel is open only for the busy four-month winter months, it’s available for functions at any time. Filming took place up on the fells, where stunning panoramas of the rolling valleys and forests open up – excellent viewpoints for more intrepid Northern Lights watchers. Hidden up here and managed by Lapland Safaris is the Bear’s Den, the exquisite and quintessential Finnish log cabin.

A large growling bear greets visitors in one corner – don’t worry, it isn’t actually alive – and the log walls are adorned with other hunting trophies, including a snarling wolverine and an eagle. The main room is large enough to welcome groups (the cabin boasts a well-equipped kitchen) and sufficiently compact to nurture a sense of exclusive privacy – in spite of one of the most expansive open fire hearths you’ll ever see. Naturally there’s a lakeside sauna with an avanto – hole in the ice – a swimming option for winter guests.

The Bachelor Nick Viall wasn’t the first celebrity to spend a snug warm night here. The cabin was a favorite haunt of the late Finnish President Urho Kekkonen, who brought visiting foreign dignitaries here for unpublicized fishing and wilderness trips. On one wall, there’s a shot of Kekkonen lakeside with the Shah of Iran. The Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir stayed here too, and the most sumptuous of the several bedrooms is named the Golda Suite in her honor.

Passionate perfection

Lapland Safaris pride themselves on flexibility, and this was an asset for  The Bachelor.  “We can organize snowmobile or husky safaris or hikes at short notice for big and small groups,” says Janne Petäjäjärvi. “We can also give ideas about programs. The crew seemed to appreciate this and thanked us for making things go smoothly.”

More romantic hideaways are closer to downtown Rovaniemi. The Lapp Pine cabin at the Lapland Hotel Ounasvaara Chalets was also a filming venue, as was the cozy Villa Niemelä, both of them charming riverside locations quietly but conveniently removed from the urban bustle.

Lapland Safaris has its main catering depot at the Poropirtti Lodge, a former school building about 15 kilometers from the city next to the River Ounasjoki. This was chosen as the venue for the climax of the TV series in which the proposal is made to The Bachelor’s chosen lady.

The rustic hall has an almost medieval banquet atmosphere, with bear and reindeer pelts and antlers on the walls, wooden furniture and a hearty fireplace.

It’s also close to the Arctic Circle – surely the ultimate venue for a romantic proposal.