Ice Hotel


Overview

Ice Hotel travel guide, including top Ice Hotel experiences, tips for the Ice Hotel, when to visit the Ice Hotel and Ice Hotel advice

The tiny village of Jukkasjarvi in Swedish Lapland is home to more sled-dogs (800) than humans (600), but is now world-famous thanks to an extraordinary (and increasingly copied) experience: the Ice Hotel.

In 1990 a tour operator working in the area had invited a French artist to design an igloo made from the ice of the frozen Torne River. It became a tourist attraction and one night some hardy visitors with sleeping bags decided to have a go at sleeping in it. Hence the idea of a hotel made of ice was born.

The hotel is still seen as a work of art as much as a hotel. It is built afresh each winter, and artists from around the world are invited to design the 'suites', which comprise a third of the accommodation, the rest being plain ice rooms.Even if you’re not staying here, you can visit to ogle this unique shrine to ice and snow.

As for the practicalities, the hotel complex contains permanent buildings too, such as cabins and other accommodation, a restaurant, and a changing area. Most visitors opt to spend just one night in an ice room and the rest of their stay in a regular 'warm room'.

In the Ice Hotel you sleep in a sleeping bag on top of a reindeer-hide-covered ice bed. As for going to the toilet, you’ll be relieved to hear they are in a nice warm block – but you do have to leave the Ice Hotel to get to them.

Optional activities at the Ice Hotel include ice sculpting, snowmobiling, husky sledding, horse riding and cross-country skiing.

Further Reading

Ice Hotel Top 5

Sweden's Ice Hotel was the first of its kind, but it's spawned a rash of similar places to stay. Here are some of the other best places to sleep on snow

  1. Balea Lake Ice Hotel, Fagaras Mountains, Romania – the Faragas Mountains provide a perfect backdrop for the this sparkling pad, which perches up at 2,000m and can only be reached by cable car in the winter. Being in Romania, it's a bit of a bargain, too.
  2. Hôtel de Glace, Quebec, Canada – this crystal palace not far from historic Quebec City first opened in 2001. It's redesigned annually, but always hosts a beautiful Ice Bar and Ice Chapel for sub-zero weddings.
  3. Kirkenes Snow Hotel, Norway – these artistic hotel suites are fit for a snow queen. Bed down on the ice rooms, eat fine Scandinavian fare at the Gabba restaurant (made of warm wood) and then head out on a husky trip.
  4. Igloo Hotel Sorrisniva, Alta, Norway – 20km from Alta, this unique igloo is packed with ice sculptures. You can also choose to stay in a traditional lavoo – an Arctic tipi with roaring fire inside.
  5. Lainio Snow Village, Finland – nearly 200km above the Arctic Circle but easily reachable from the  airport of Kittilä, the Snow Village offers ice beds, ice bars and even an igloo disco with drinks served in ice glasses.