The Ice Hotel
Sweden’s Icehotel is located just 200 km north of the Arctic Circle in a village called Jukkasjärvi pronounced ‘you-kas- yayr-vi’ (try saying that with a chewing food in your mouth) and is redesigned by world famous artists every year. It started in 1989 when they ran out of accommodation for students who came to the village to learn ice sculpture. Stoic students began to sleep inside the master class snow room with their sleeping bags. This was the origin of the modern ice hotel.
The following year and every spring since then, tons of ice blocks are collected from the mighty Torne River where they will be preserved in cold storage until November when the hotel begins its first development. The builders will first cut these block of ice into sizeable pieces for the artists to start designing beautiful sculptures whilst the remainder of the ice is mixed with snow to build the hotel’s basic structure.
Some may question the basic logic of sleeping in a cold room. However, the Icehotel is about much more than just temperature. The experience of just being inside is unlike any other one Earth. Visitors walk away with truly once-in-a- lifetime moments.
Arriving in the arctic circle, many wonder with curiosity – how (or why) people live in these harsh weather conditions? Are they not unhappy being so isolated? After all, winter in the arctic circle means eighteen hours of night. It starts getting dark at 3 pm and light does not return until 10 am the next day. Surprisingly, the area is actually one of the wealthiest communities in Sweden thanks to the mining company nearby. Large supermarkets, pubs, restaurants, modern hospitals, and shopping are all within a twenty-minute radius from the Icehotel.
While checking in, guests are often assured that they do have a conventional hotel complex next door with warm, chalet-style bedrooms, shared showers and toilet, a lounge and sauna.
Guests are often also caught by surprise at the sight of their room. The beauty of the individual designs is striking, as is the fact that there is almost nothing conventional about an Icehotel suite except the fire detectors. Not that one would ever worry about the possibility of a fire in a room made entirely of ice, but Scandinavian law demands any “buildings” have them installed.
The Icebar is also a must-see experience, where you can drink vodka from a glass made of ice. There is also a beautiful ice chapel that marries quite a few couples every season.
Each year the Icehotel is redesigned and each room is carved from ice by a different artist. The care and effort involved in redesigning and rebuilding a structure from frozen water every year is one thing, but to add absolutely amazing art to each room, knowing it will be gone forever at the end of the season, is bordering on madness. However, it is all part of the experience and lends a exclusivity to the stay that draws adventurous visitors from all parts of the globe.
Special note: be sure to book your stay at the Icehotel up to three to six months in advance as rooms are limited and the hotel is regularly booked to capacity.