A hotel that is reincarnated every year after melting each Spring creates an experience of a lifetime. Located in Sweden, this Ice Hotel is sure to become an item on your bucket list.
by R. Cook
The ice of the river transforms to design and architecture - an ephemeral art project and the world’s first, and largest hotel built of snow and ice.
Head north above the Arctic Circle in Sweden and you will find the original house made of ice, aka Sweden's Icehotel. From the rooms, all designed and creatively carved of ice by international artists, to the hotel itself melting away every year as the thaw sets in, the unique experience of the Ice Hotel is that you will never experience it again, in the same way. Beginning over 20 years ago as just one room, Sweden’s Ice Hotel these days boasts 50-plus rooms with 5,000 square metres built of 30,000 tons of snow and 4,000 tons of ice. Best described as a fairy-tale like experience, one enters the ice hotel through reindeer-skin covered doors. Inside, in addition to the rooms, there is a reception area, hall of pillars, an iceart exhibition, Absolut Icebar and an Icehurch. In the evening guests gather in the Icebar before going to bed for a drink "in the rocks" - ice glasses taken straight from the ice of the nearby River Torne. One thing when sleeping in the Ice Hotel is to remember that no matter how cold it gets outside it will never be colder than -7ºC inside. Before you go to bed as well, you dress warmly in thermal underwear, pull your hat down over your ears and slide in to your sleeping bag on a bed built by ice blocks, a thick mattress and reindeer skins. In the morning, staff wakes you with a nice hot cup of the local lingonberry juice and then you get to enjoy a sauna session, and all before breakfast.
Icehotel is located in the village of Jukkasjarvi, 160 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Every year in October the artists and local villagers, most from the Sami tribe in the area, begin to build the new ice hotel for the year, which opens in mid-December. Snow canons and front loaders start by forming the snow over the steel sections that are the main structure of the Icehotel. Sections are moved around and replaced by ice pillars put in place to give support to the snow arches. In December the exterior is complete, molded and created as in years past and then the interior work begins. As the artists create their masterpieces, each hotel room and suite is representative of the artist's unique dream. Colors play as important a role as the design. Soft reds, blues, yellows and green line the rooms, each boasting a unique sculpture, window design, or interior decoration, candles stand in corners lighting the way to a simplicity unlike you have ever known. As night creeps into the Icehotel the sound is silence. In this land of the Northern Lights you can truly imagine a world where anything is possible. When visiting there is also a good chance you won't get the daylight this far north. If you visit in December just at the beginning of the Icehotel season you will likely only get about two hours of low light before it grows dark outside again.
This alone gives you the magical feel of being in another world. Everything is by the light of the moon with the snow glistening to shed an otherworldly light. Most people stay at the Ice hotel for two or three nights, but you will only spend one night in the actual Ice hotel and the additional nights in the Scandinavian bungalows also on the property. If you're lucky you will experience the Northern Lights, more spectacular here than anywhere else on earth. The Sami people of the area call them "the lights that can be heard" their glow in the darkness leaves a magical aura creating a feeling of eternity. The best way to get to the Icehotel is by dog sled from the airport in Kiruna. Nothing compares to the sound of packed ice and the panting of the dogs as they glide across the frozen lake to their destination. An excellent way to explore the wilderness of the Arctic, forests and trees glide by as you become one with the dogs and the frozen world around you.
Other activities in the area include snowmobile tours, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, dog sledding tours and a chance to experience a run with both horse and moose with the Sami from the area.
A special experience that will never be the same two times, for a magical winter journey Icehotel will change your mind about the winter season forever.