For as long as I can remember what it feels like to shake and shiver, I've been taught to fear the cold. Always wrap up warm. Don't leave home without a coat. And never, ever go out with wet hair.

But what if we were to turn the tables and embrace the very thing that scares us?

"There's nothing to be frightened of," assures therapist Nina Medin, as I slowly crunch through ice and slip into a skin-prickling pool of 4C river water - the centrepiece of new highly-hyped, high-end design hotel Arctic Bath.

Clad with logs - like a doughnut sprinkled with hundreds and thousands - the property's circular spa floats or freezes in Swedish Lapland's Lule River - depending on the season. An architectural masterpiece which demands deep pockets, it's destined to grace multiple Instagram feeds. But a commitment to its cultural context makes 2020's most exciting hotel opening much more than a pretty face.

Sauna etiquette is second nature to Scandinavians, but for many of us, it's a mystery. A SaunaGus spa ritual is the perfect introduction. Moving between Arctic Bath's wood pellet-fuelled saunas, Nina throws essential oils mixed with water onto hot rocks and circulates the steam by swinging a towel above her head.

I'm invited to breathe and meditate before heading outside to the cold bath, a circuit which becomes addictive after a couple of days. Starting with a tentative toe wriggle, I soon progress to full immersion, tilting my head back and gazing at the stars. Eventually, I even manage a short swim.

The feeling? Like a million electrodes pulsing through my body; my mind cleared of all thoughts bar one. As Nina explains: "When your body kicks into survival mode, that's when you really see results."

At present, the spa has only one treatment room (although there are plans to build a separate building in the next few years), with a menu of facials and massages curated by eco and vegan Swedish skincare brand Kerstin Florian.

Rates at Arctic Bath ( start from 9,600 SEK/£774 per night, based on two sharing on a half-board basis.

For further information on Swedish Lapland, go to For Sweden, visit