Sleep under giant ice sculptures, eat off frozen plates, and have a go at building your own igloo for the night. Whichever hotel you choose, be sure to brace yourself for the cold...
The original, biggest, and probably coolest of them all. In Jukkasjärvi, the ICEHOTEL’s innovative approach has been encouraging visitors to embrace 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.
Take a cable car deep into the Fagaras Mountains to reach this secret ice-built retreat, and choose between a double room for two people or a cosy igloo. Both are made with ice 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 for couples who want to tie the knot. The nearby medieval towns of Brasov and Sibiu are well worth exploring, with their beautiful cobbled streets and resplendent architecture.
The only one of its kind in Northern America, 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.
Between mid-January and 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 just eight metres wide and four metres high, so there’s only space for one room. Guests are given a shruff (sleeping bag) to keep cosy at night, and a warming bowl of soup for breakfast.
But staying here is by no means a remote experience. The hotel is part of a larger winter world – the ice village. Here you can watch weddings in the ice church, eat cheese fondue in the frozen café, whizz down the ice-carved slide, skate on the ice rink, and curl up by the fire in the library.
Set up by an extreme snowboarder who wanted to be the first person to ride the soft powder in the morning, Iglu-Dorf now has igloo villages at seven different locations: five in Switzerland and two elsewhere. 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 even a ‘thrill walk’ to the igloo restaurant.
There is a plethora of hotel rooms to choose between, from the basic ‘Group Igloo’ that houses up to six guests 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.
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, three weeks, and around 1,400 blocks of ice to build!
The northernmost igloo hotel in the world, Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, has come along way since it first started with just six rooms nearly 20 years ago. The frozen spectacle in the mountainous pine-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. Step outside and you may be lucky enough to see mother nature’s best art display too, as the hotel is in a prime location for viewing the northern lights.
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, 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 minus five degrees Celsius to prevent the gigantic sculptures from melting. If you fancy something a little warmer, opt for one of the cosy cabins. And there are plenty of outdoor activities to do, such as dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, northern light trips, and ice-sculpting classes.
Every year, the sparkling Snowhotel Kirkenes melts back into the Arctic Fjord, seamlessly re-joining the natural world that surrounds it. When the colder temperatures return, so does the hotel, with master ice sculptors from around the world bringing its 20 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 as you drift off 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 alongside bigger spaces carved out for families, there’s something here for everyone.
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 to various snow-lined tunnels covered in ice carvings; the bedrooms hold solid, see-through ice beds draped in reindeer furs; the candle-lit restaurant serves traditional Finish food such as roasted elk; and the outdoor sauna is a great place to relax in nature. For a real treat, stay in one of the suites: you will feel like you’re in your own frozen palace.
There’s plenty to keep you busy outside the hotel – such as snowshoe hikes, snowmobile safaris, snow sculpting, ice fishing, and visits to local homes to learn more about life in Finnish Lapland. You can also request an ‘aurora alarm’ to make sure you don’t miss an appearance of the northern lights.
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, you'll also find accommodation for more adventurous visitors. Nestled under snow-sprinkled pine trees are the snow igloos. Armed with a down sleeping bag, you’ll spend the night tucked up in one of these snug shelters, protected from any outdoor noise and in temperatures as low as minus six.
Popular daytime activities include horseriding, reindeer safaris, snow tank safaris – with northern lights watching after dark.
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.
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.
At 2,700m above sea level and with stunning views of the Himalayan peaks, the only snow hotel in India is perhaps the most adventurous place to spend the night.
Enjoy your day playing in the snow before learning how to build your own igloo, putting it to the test by spending a night in it. It will be cold, but well worth it for the beautiful pine forests and incredible views surrounding the camp.
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