After my last post about wanting fresh air in hotels, I thought it apt to write about the ‘freshest’ hotel I’ve ever slept in – a hotel made totally of ice! It’s also ranks as the ‘coolest’ hotel I’ve experienced.
First built in 1990 some 200 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, the IceHotel in Sweden’s Lapland is the real deal. It’s the original, the one that’s since been copied in various other chilly countries in a variety of imitations. Making the Swedish hotel even more remarkable is the fact that it is completely rebuilt every year.
The IceHotel materializes in late October-early November in the Swedish village of Jukkasjarvi near the Arctic mining town of Kiruna. The entire building is made of massive ice blocks carved from the nearby frozen River Torne. These hewn blocks are augmented with snice – snow produced by a snow-making machine. The hotel owner says the unrivalled purity of the Torne’s waters render the Jukkasjarvi hotel the finest, purest, IceHotel of them all.
Each season the Icehotel gets bigger, opening in sections, each filled with guests while the rest of the hotel is still being built. At the end of the season the entire structure simply melts away, flowing back into the Torne.
Within the hotel’s frozen walls one’s sense of reality is challenged by a eerie, silent, yet fascinating world of white, blue and green – rather similar to being underwater.
Hotel rooms are set off low corridors of packed white snow. The Jukkasjarvi IceHotel is famous for its unique Art Suites, each one designed by a different international artist chosen annually from a list of more than 200 applications. The end results are so extraordinary they attract day tourists to Jukkasjarvi as well as creating an international buzz. These wondrously carved suites complement the hotel’s standard rooms.
Guests socialize at the Absolut Ice Bar, where lurid vodka-based cocktails are served in chunky ice glasses. Each glass lasts long enough for two or three drinks before starting to melt in the heat of your gloved hand.
The temperature inside the hotel is kept between -5ºC and -8ºC. Guests are given Arctic sleeping bags and prepare for bed in an adjacent, warm, changing room where they leave bags and clothing in a locker before retiring to bed in thermal underwear. You keep your shoes, nip smartly across an open courtyard and into the hotel, then speed down one of its lengthy, domed white corridors to your room built entirely of packed snow with a dome roof.
Beds are wooden pallets supporting a foam mattress covered in reindeer skins. Tucked up in my sleeping bag I was as warm as toast. Note that there no ensuite rooms in the Icehotel so any pressing urgency during the night means another speedy excursion to the change rooms.
Most guests combine a night in the IceHotel with one or more in one of the hotel’s heated wooden chalets. Whatever your choice make sure you add this remarkable chunk of Jukkasjarvi ice onto your bucket list.
To find out more or book a room visit www.icehotel.com