Review of Hotel SØMA (formerly Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat), Greenland (2023)

four-storey hotel painted red

Choosing hotels in Ilulissat can be hard, so let me help you make a choice by telling you about my stay at Hotel SØMA, formerly known as Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat, Greenland. I also visited a few other hotels in Ilulissat, so I’ll share what I know about them as well.

This article is an honest, first-hand review of the hotel from my week there in June 2023. I was not sponsored to stay there: booking was my choice and I paid for it with my own money. However, I am using affiliate links to Booking.com in this article, so if you book a hotel through my links, I’ll earn some commission.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. These are links to products or experiences I recommend and if you were to buy something after clicking on them, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Any earnings go towards the upkeep of this blog, which I appreciate.

Hotel SØMA Or Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat?

This hotel seems to have two names! From what I can gather, it was originally known as the Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat, Greenland, and was recently renamed Hotel SØMA Ilulissat.

Confusingly, when I was there, the hotel sign said ‘Hotel SØMA’, but the hotel minibus still said ‘Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat, Greenland’. And some people in town, when I said where I was staying, they replied ‘Oh, Hotel Avannaa’. So, I guess it’s still in a transition period of rebranding!

Overview Of Hotel SØMA (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat), Greenland

Hotel SØMA Ilulissat is a hotel in the town of Ilulissat in west Greenland. It has four storeys, including the loft space, and offers budget accommodation with breakfast and self-catering facilities.

In a nutshell, here are the high-level pros and cons of staying at the Hotel SØMA Ilulissat, Greenland:

Pros

  • Lower price than many other hotels in Ilulissat
  • Kitchenette in rooms for self-catering
  • Bay views in some rooms
  • Friendly, helpful staff
  • Bus stop right outside for easy transfer into the town centre
  • Airport transfers included

Cons

  • Not in Ilulissat town centre (15-minute walk or 5-minute bus ride)
  • No lifts in the building – and external stairs mean you might get a little wet going down to breakfast in the morning
  • Some noise occasionally (from the road and the sled dog station behind the hotel)
four-storey hotel painted red
Hotel SØMA Ilulissat

Location Of Hotel SØMA (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat)

Hotel SØMA Ilulissat is located just outside the town, to the north, beyond the harbour. It’s about 3km from the airport and 1.5 km to the town centre.

You can walk into the town: it takes 15-20 minutes. All of the Ilulissat tours I did depart from the town centre, so I walked the route often. It’s a little hilly, but fine.

The road has a gravel pathway for most of the way, with the exception of the bridge over the harbour, where you’ll have to walk on the side of the road. This might sound like a bad idea, but it’s very common, I did it often, and I found that cars give pedestrians a wide berth on the bridge.

If you don’t fancy the walk, there is a fairly regular bus which runs every 20 minutes during the day. It stops right outside Hotel SØMA and then again in the centre of town.

Hotel SØMA Ilulissat is not on the shore of Disko Bay, but it faces towards the bay and there are some nice views of the icebergs from the upper floors.

Location rating: 7/10.

view across rooftops to a bay filled with icebergs
The view from Hotel SOMA is over rooftops…
huge blue icebergs seen across a bay
…but you can still see the amazing icebergs in Disko Bay

Bedrooms At Hotel SØMA (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat)

Hotel SØMA Ilulissat has a mix of room types: single, double and family rooms. The bedrooms with bay views are more expensive than those without, as is often the case with hotels.

I chose to save money and have a room without a view, seeing as my trip to Greenland was already very expensive for me. I was in a double room and I thought it was fine: nothing luxurious, but it had all the necessities. And it was very clean, which I think is super-important for any hotel. Overall, for a budget hotel, I think it was pretty good.

The kitchenette was small, but it had everything I needed for preparing basic food: I made noodles on some nights to save money on eating out in Ilulissat.

The wifi worked well in my room, which was on the 2nd floor.

The room has black-out blinds, which was helpful because I was in Ilulissat in summer when there’s 24-hour daylight. Even black-out blinds don’t block out all the light, though, so I still used an eye mask to help me sleep (I learned this from my trips to Iceland in summer).

bedroom with two beds, desk and wardrobe
Double back-facing bedroom on the 2nd floor of Hotel SØMA Ilulissat

In terms of noise, cars on the road behind the hotel didn’t bother me, but I did hear a bit of noise in my room occasionally. There was howling from the sled dogs that were stationed across the road, as they were fed. This was kind of cool, though, to be honest!

I was bothered by noise once: one morning, there was a digger clearing a channel right outside my room. Mostly, though, it was fairly quiet in the hotel.

husky sled dog lying down on a granite rock surrounded by snowy mountains
One of the sled dogs stationed behind Hotel SØMA Ilulissat. They didn’t bother me: I liked being able to observe them

Features of the double rooms:

  • Small kitchenette: two electric rings for cooking, a fridge, sink, two cupboards and basic kitchen utensils, crockery and cutlery.
  • En suite bathroom: toilet, sink & shower with curtain
  • Two twin beds, which can be pushed together, with basic bedding (pillow & duvet)
  • Balcony door (leading to a shared balcony) and window, both with blackout blinds
  • Desk, chair and wardrobe, with extra bedding available
  • TV, with a couple of English-speaking channels

Bedroom rating: 8/10

Breakfast At Hotel SØMA (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat)

The daily rate for rooms includes breakfast, which is a small buffet of mainly continental breakfast food including bread, jams, cereal, salad, cheese, yoghurt and whole fruit. There was only one hot food: boiled eggs. There’s also tea, filter coffee and juices.

It had limited choice, but the items were of good quality and I was quite happy with it.

I tended to have a similar combination each morning: orange juice and coffee; a hard-boiled egg; some bread and either jam or honey; a couple of slices of cheese and a fruity yoghurt pot topped with granola. Because it was cold outside, I was grateful for the warm egg each morning.

Breakfast rating: 7/10

breakfast of hard-boiled egg, bread, cheese and a yoghurt
My breakfast at Hotel SØMA Ilulissat

Service At Hotel SØMA (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat)

I found the staff at Hotel SØMA Ilulissat to be very friendly and helpful. They were a mix of nationalities: Danish, German and French, but they all spoke English really well.

Reception is only manned between 7 am and 10 am, but they are available by phone if you need anything (and I tested this a couple of times and found them really responsive).

They seemed happy to help beyond what they’re obliged to. For example, one day I called a taxi to take me across town when I didn’t have time to walk there. The taxi didn’t come, which made me nervous I would be late. However, one of the guys on staff offered to take me in the hotel minivan instead, which really helped me out.

Rooms get a basic daily service if you want it. If you need fresh towels, you put them on the floor, as is customary in most hotels.

On my last day, after I checked out of my room, I wanted to leave my luggage in the hotel while I was out and about, and it was fine to do that: they put it in a room downstairs. And when I came back, before my transfer to the airport, I was able to use the breakfast room to open my bag to change what I had in my hand luggage so that I was ready to fly.

Service rating: 10/10.

No complaints!

small snowman on a red picnic table outside a red building
The picnic table was not used for picnics while I was in Ilulissat in June

Prices At Hotel SØMA (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat)

Prices vary, but my room at Hotel SØMA Ilulissat was DKK1490 a night, which was about £173 (or US$223) a night. This is more than I would normally pay for a hotel, especially a fairly basic one. However, it was the lowest price I could find in Ilulissat for my dates!

The other hotels that had availability for me when I booked were about 30% more, which I just didn’t want to pay. Greenland is expensive…

Value-for-money rating

Compared to other parts of the world, it’s not great value: 3/10.

However, compared to the other hotels in Ilulissat, it was pretty good: 8/10.

Ps. One way you could save money on hotels in Greenland is to book way in advance, I didn’t do that: I booked only a few months in advance, which means I might have missed out on some deals.

red blue and orange buildings seen across a snowy gully
Hotel SØMA Ilulissat (the red building) on a snowy day (there was quite a lot of building going on in Ilulissat when I was there in summer 2023)

Overall REVIEW For Hotel SØMA (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat)

Overall, I enjoyed my stay: I slept well, the breakfast was good and the staff were lovely. It was a bit inconvenient to schlep back and forth into town, but it wasn’t a major problem.

Overall rating: 7.5/10.

Would I Return To The Hotel SØMA (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat)?

I would definitely return to Greenland because I was blown away by the natural beauty around Ilulissat. And I would definitely stay at the Hotel SØMA Ilulissat again.

To be fully transparent, I would probably try booking further in advance than I did for this trip, in order to see if I could get a deal, maybe at one of the other hotels in Ilulissat, which have better locations and better views.

But if my budget didn’t stretch to one of the others, I’d be perfectly happy at the Hotel SØMA Ilulissat.

Book the Hotel SØMA Ilulissat on Booking.com here.

harbour with many boats on a snowy day
Ilulissat Harbour, on the way into town from Hotel SØMA Ilulissat

Other Hotels In Ilulissat, Greenland

I only stayed in one hotel in Ilulissat (the Hotel SØMA Ilulissat), but I did visit a few others during my time in Greenland, for various reasons. I’ll share my impressions and what I know of them, as it might help your choice of where to stay in Ilulissat.

Hotel Icefiord Ilulissat – For Stunning Icefjord Views

I visited this hotel to have dinner at its restaurant. I’d heard it has wonderful views of Disko Bay and that it is one of the best places to eat in Ilulissat – and it really does and definitely it is!

The Hotel Icefiord is located right on the shore of the bay, in the southwest part of the town, which is closest to the mouth of the Icefjord. Many rooms have sea views and there’s an outdoor terrace giving a full panorama.

table and chairs on a terrace overlooking a bay full of icebergs
The terrace view from Hotel Icefiord, Ilulissat

The restaurant has huge windows, allowing diners a wonderful view throughout their dinner. The food is really good, too: I ate ceviche with cod from Disko Bay, local reindeer and my drink contained glacial ice. It was a really wonderful meal!

plate of good and a galass of drink on a table in front of a window with iceberg views
Dinner at Hotel Icefiord‘s restaurant, with iceberg views

I would definitely be tempted to stay here if I came back to Ilulissat – mainly for these stunning views. However, if you stay here, you do still have a walk into town: it’s about 15 minutes from the centre of town, in the opposite direction from Hotel SØMA Ilulissat.

Book the Hotel Icefiord on Booking.com here.

Best Western Plus Hotel Ilulissat – For Modern Comforts & Views

The Best Western Plus in Ilulissat does stick out a bit: it’s the tallest building in Ilulissat and it doesn’t conform to the quaint wooden aesthetic of the rest of Ilulissat city. The modern tower isn’t that attractive to look at from the outside.

modern low-rise tower building
Best Western Plus Hotel Ilulissat. It’s what’s on the inside that counts…

However, it could be tempting to stay there for two reasons:

  • It has a slick modern interior, which most buildings in Ilulissat don’t have. In a fairly functional town with often harsh weather, the comfortable interior, lobby bar and the ease of having a lift (elevator) to take you to your floor could be very appealing.
  • It has wonderful views from its rooftop terrace: you can see across the town and out onto the bay full of icebergs. There’s a restaurant up here, too, so it’s another place you can dine with a view – but tables get reserved quickly, so best to book in advance (I tried to dine here, but it was full, so I missed out on trying the food).
modern hotel lobby interior
Best Western Plus Hotel Ilulissat lobby
aerial view of small town with a black church on the shore of an icy bay
View from the Best Western Plus Hotel Ilulissat‘s Rooftop terrace

Book the Best Western Plus Hotel Ilulissat on Booking.com here.

Hotel Hvide Falk – For Local Food & Tours

I came across the Hotel Hvide Falk on my first day when I was wandering around Ilulissat getting my bearings. I found a tour company office & shop right next door to it and ended up doing several Ilulissat boat tours with them, which meant I came back to the hotel over and over (I used the loos in their lobby quite often!).

It’s situated near the shore, so they also have good views of the bay and the interior seems really nice.

I also heard from a couple of people that this hotel is known for offering a range of local foods and that they do some sort of local buffet there, so that is also a nice touch.

sun low in the sky over a still bay with icebergs floating in it
Bay view from just below the Hotel Hvide Falk (at midnight!)

Book the Hotel Hvide Falk on Booking.com here.

Hotel Arctic

The Hotel Arctic claims to be the world’s northernmost 4-star hotel with a conference centre.

It’s a really big hotel near the Hotel SØMA Ilulissat (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat, Greenland), where I stayed. I met quite a few people in Ilulissat who stayed here and they seemed happy with it.

However, I think this would be low on my list of hotels for my next trip to Ilulissat because while it might be more comfortable overall, it has the same location issues as Hotel SØMA. In fact, it’s slightly further from the town centre.

Book the Hotel Arctic on Booking.com here.

Booking Hotels In Ilulissat, Greenland

I use Booking.com for my hotel bookings because I like the fact that you can book now and pay later. They also have a loyalty scheme, so there are rewards for frequent users.

I am an affiliate for Booking.com, so if you use my links to book the Hotel SØMA Ilulissat or any other hotel, I’ll earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.

Tips For Booking Hotels In Ilulissat

  • For the best choice and best prices, book your accommodation as far in advance as you can
  • To avoid the risk of losing money if you have to cancel, filter the results on those that offer a free cancellation – and then check the specific cut-off date for this, as it will vary from hotel to hotel
  • Use the map view to show you the location, so you can check that it’s what you want (you can also use my map in this article, below)

Ilulissat Map

Here’s a map of Ilulissat, showing the location of Hotel SØMA Ilulissat (Hotel Avannaa Ilulissat) and the other hotels mentioned, plus some other key locations in Ilulissat.

How To Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one.  If you click the star next to the map’s title, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’ or ‘Saved’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.

The Last Word

I hope this review helps you choose a hotel in Ilulissat. It’s a great little town, and the icebergs are just amaaaazing.

large icebergs glowing yellow in the evening sun and reflected in still water
Midnight sailing in the Icefjord – my favourite of all the Ilulissat tours I did

If you need more inspiration about what to do in Ilulissat, check out my post reviewing the Ilulissat tours I did there, including Icejord tours, whale-watching and a city tour.

I’ve also written about where to eat in Ilulissat and I created a self-guided Ilulissat city tour.

If you like this article, I'd be delighted if you shared it!

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