Iglu-Dorf, Switzerland
List 17 November

Cool accommodation: 10 hotels made entirely of ice

Embrace the chill this winter in one of these spectacular sub-zero hotels with ice sculptures, ice beds and more

1: ICEHOTEL, Sweden

An ice-carved bed in ICEHOTEL, Sweden (Dreamstime)

An ice-carved bed in ICEHOTEL, Sweden (Dreamstime)

The original, biggest, and probably coolest of them all. The Ice-Hotel in Jukkasjärvi’s innovative approach has been encouraging visitors to brace the cold for nearly 30 years. And their latest idea now means you can sleep in an ice-made room any time and any day of the year. Kept cold by a refrigeration unit, ICEHOTEL 365 offers the best of both worlds. Enjoy summer activities in the Arctic Circle by day and escape to your own winter wonderland by night.

For a more traditional experience, stay in the original hotel, which melts and is rebuilt by ice-sculptors from all over the world every year. No two designs are the same and anything from unicorns and elephants to people and monsters could be looking down at you while you drift off to sleep on a bed made entirely of ice. But don’t worry about getting frostbite; there are cosy thermal sleeping bags and a comfy mattress to keep you warm. 

During your stay you can also enjoy outdoor activities, drinks at the ice bar, and a look around the fantastic art exhibitions. The ICEHOTEL is also within easy reach of Abisko – one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. 

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2: Hotel of Ice, Romania

The twinkling ice bar at the Hotel of Ice (Shutterstock)

The twinkling ice bar at the Hotel of Ice (Shutterstock)

With the reflection of strings of little lights dancing off the glass-like walls and furniture, a night in the Hotel of Ice is like being in a fairy tale. Take a cable car deep into the Fagaras Mountains to reach this secret hiding space and choose between a double room for two people or a cosy igloo. Both are made with water from the largest glacial lake in the mountains and both are decorated with hand-sculpted furniture and coverings of warm blankets and pillows.

Even the plates in the restaurant are made from ice and there is also a church, in case you fancy tying the knot. The nearby medieval towns of Brasov and Sibiu are well worth exploring, boasting beautiful cobbled streets and resplendent architecture.

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3: Hôtel de Glace, Canada

One of the 42 ice cool rooms at the hotel in Quebec (Dreamstime)

One of the 42 ice cool rooms at the hotel in Quebec (Dreamstime)

The only one of its kind in the whole of America, the Hôtel de Glace is re-designed and rebuilt every year. This year it has been reincarnated into 42 uniquely-themed rooms (including luxury suites with fireplaces and spas), a winter art gallery housed in the Grand Hall and even saunas under the stars.

Despite being so relaxing and feeling like a million miles away from the rest of the world, the icy retreat is only ten minutes from the lively Quebec City Centre – perfect for those who like the best of both worlds.

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4: Ice Hotel, Japan

A wedding in the ice church in Japan's Ice Village (Tomamu Resort)

A wedding in the ice church in Japan's Ice Village (Tomamu Resort)

Between mid-January to the end of February each year, visitors to Alpha Resort Tomamu, in Hokkaido may be lucky enough to spend a night in the Ice Hotel. The sub-zero dome is less than eight metres wide and less than four metres high, so there’s only space for one room. The lucky guest will be given a shruff (sleeping bag) to keep cosy at night and will be served soup for breakfast in the morning to truly warm you up.

But staying here is by no means a lonely experience. The Hotel is part of a larger winter world — the ice village. Watch weddings in the ice church, eat a cheese fondu in the frozen café, shoot down the ice-carved slide, skate on the rink under the stars, and even enjoy a book by the fire in the library to warm up.

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5: Iglu-Dorf, Switzerland

Enjoying a night inside one of Iglu-Dorf's igloos (Iglu-Dorf)

Enjoying a night inside one of Iglu-Dorf's igloos (Iglu-Dorf)

Started by an extreme snowboarder who wanted to be the first to ride the soft powder snow in the morning, Iglu-Dorf now sets up igloo villages at seven different locations – five in Switzerland and two abroad. At the Zermatt village you can lie in a whirlpool and gaze at the Matterhorn while at Zugspitze you can look down on Germany, Austria and Switzerland from one viewpoint. The freshest one of the lot is in Schilthorn, Austria which can be reached by ski and snowboard. At over 2,600 metres above sea level, there is a ‘thrill walk’ to the igloo restaurant for the more adventurous.

There is a plethora of hotel rooms to choose between, from the fairly basic ‘Group Igloo’ that houses up to six guests, providing them with sleeping bags, to the more luxurious suites that are decked out with artwork, jacuzzis and private bathrooms and the romantic ‘build your own love nest option’ which encourages couples to work together to make their igloo before bedding down in it for the night.

Did you know? 

In 2016, Iglu-Dorf achieved the world record for the largest ever igloo to be built. The igloo dome in Zermatt had a diameter of 12.9m and a height of over 10 metres! It took 18 people and 3 weeks to build.

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6: Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Norway

The northernmost igloo hotel in the world has come along way since it first started with just six rooms nearly 20 years ago. The frozen spectacle in the mountainous, pine tree-covered Sorrisniva now comprises of 26 bedrooms, four intricate suites, a chapel, and an ice bar, all lavishly decorated with hand-sculpted art work.

Every year is a new theme for the hotel, and in the past the ice walls have been carefully carved away to reveal Vikings, mythical creatures, Nordic legends and arctic wildlife. There’s more than enough art to see inside the hotel’s walls, but step outside and you will probably be lucky enough to see mother nature’s best display as the hotel is set in a prime location for viewing the northern lights.

7: Snow Village, Finland

One of the intricately carved hotel suites (Shutterstock)

One of the intricately carved hotel suites (Shutterstock)

Around 20 million kilos of snow and 350,000 kilos of ice are reshaped and re-designed every year to create the ever-changing Snow Village in Finland. This year, the sculptures, snow suites, chapel, and ice restaurant and bar have been decorated with a Game of Thrones inspired theme, so you can walk through the scenes and meet the characters from the hit television series.

The impressive snow suites drop to lows of – 5 degrees Celsius to prevent the gigantic, wall-popping sculptures that loom over the beds from melting. If you fancy something a little warmer, opt for one of the cosy cabins and keep the fun in the snow to outside. And there’s plenty of outdoor activities to do such as dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, northern lights trips, and even ice-sculpting classes.

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8: Snow Hotel Kirkenes, Norway

Amid forest and mountains, every year, the sparkling Snow Hotel Kirkness melts back into the Arctic Fjord, seamlessly re-joining the natural world that surrounds it. When the colder temperatures come back, so does the hotel, with master ice sculptures from around the world bringing its twenty rooms and ice bar back to life.

Each year brings a new motif but the sculptures never lose their Nordic touch. The artwork of every room is different but they all share the same intricate detail so you will never tire of studying the ice sculptures you drift off under at night. Warm up in the restaurant at dinner then enjoy a nightcap in the ice bar before slinking off to your room. With romantic suites designed for honeymooners along with bigger spaces carved out for families and plenty of time for fun in the snow, there’s something for everyone.

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9: Arctic SnowHotel, Finland

The candle-lit restaurant inside the Arctic SnowHotel (Shutterstock)

The candle-lit restaurant inside the Arctic SnowHotel (Shutterstock)

Not only is Rovaniemi home to Santa but winter is made all the more magical by the Arctic SnowHotel that pops up here every year. The cave-like entrance leads on to various snow-lined tunnels covered in carvings and each leading to stunning surprises. The bedrooms hold solid, see-through ice beds draped in reindeer furs, the candle-lit restaurant serves traditional Finish food such as roasted elk, the music in the ice bar is bound to keep your feet moving, and the outdoor sauna is a great place to relax in nature. For a real treat, stay in one of the suites, which is so beautifully decorated, you will feel like you’re in your own frozen palace.

There’s plenty to keep you busy outside the hotel’s walls, including snowshoe hikes, snowmobile safaris, snow sculpting, ice fishing, and visits to local homes to learn more about life in Finnish Lapland. The activity doesn’t even stop during the night as you can request an ‘aurora alarm’ to make sure you don’t miss an appearance of the northern lights.

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10: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland

The northern lights brightening the sky above Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort (Shutterstock)

The northern lights brightening the sky above Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort (Shutterstock)

On the edge of Finland’s largest national park, Urho Kekkonen, is Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. Along with log chalets, glass igloos, and a traditional house is an accommodation option for the more daring. Nestled under snow-sprinkled pin trees are the snow igloos. Armed with a  down sleeping bag, you’ll spend the night tucked up in one of the snug shelters, protected from any outdoor noise and in temperatures as low as minus six.

Popular daytime activities include horseriding, reindeer safaris, and snow tank safaris. But nightime is when it gets really exciting. Head out on a hunt for the northern lights and cross your fingers you will catch a sighting of this truly majestic display brightening up the Arctic sky.

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Impressed with the ice creations? Have a go yourself!

Schneedorf, Austria

At around 2,000m above sea level, and surrounded by snow-topped mountains, you can get your hands icy at Schneedorf – Austria’s first igloo village.

During the workshop, a guide will pass on their snow sculpting know-how to you and arm you with all the tools you need to create your own snowy masterpiece.

If all doesn’t go to plan, there are expert-built igloos on site where you can spend the night.

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Igloo Village, Slovenia

Hack through the ice at Igloo Village to create bricks to build your own igloo with. Once the traditional Eskimo secrets have been passed on to you, Igloo Village insist you only need three other things – A saw, a shovel, and your own hands! We suggest you bring patience, strength, and willpower along with you too, though.

Once your handiwork is complete, celebrate with a well-deserved drink at the Igloo Bar, or try a game of cross-country snow golf.

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