Since we were sort of in the area, of course we had to spend a night at the original Icehotel in Sweden.
If you’ve never heard of the Icehotel, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a hotel built of ice (well, ice and snow).
Each year, the hotel is built anew. It takes three months to construct it and it is open for 100 days. It’s actually made out of a snow and ice combination called snice, which is ice particles from the famously pristine Torne River mixed with air. Snice is much stronger than snow and is a good insulator.
Each spring, 5,000 tons of 1-meter x 2-meter sheets of ice are cut from the river, then stored until construction begins in the winter. The Torne River flows from Lake Torneträsk and is one of the few rivers in Europe that hasn’t been used for industrial purposes.
It takes 1,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snice to construct the hotel. You won’t be surprised to know that the rooms are -5 degrees C.
Each year, artists from all over the world submit designs. 40 are chosen to complete the hotel in stages.
The Ice Church opens every year on Christmas Day, when it is formally handed over to the Swedish Church.
The roofs are arched in a strong self-supporting manner so when the structure begins melting, the roof and walls become thinner rather than cave in. When the sky becomes visible through the roof, it’s nearly time to shut down for the year.
Though the obvious draw is to sleep in a cold room, most people stay in the cold room for only one night, then book a warm cabin for the remainder of their visit.
Before and after dinner in one of the on-site restaurants (there are just two), we went to the ice bar for some drinks. The glasses are made out of ice.
Finally, we got ready for bed, which was a bit of a process. Everyone gets ready in the warm common area, with locker rooms, luggage storage and a lounge area. I wore long underwear and brought a just-in-case fleece top layer and, of course, wool socks. We picked up our down sleeping bags and bag liners and walked to our room.
The beds are ice blocks with mattresses and reindeer skins. It was surreal being on an ice bed with my sleeping bag drawn around my entire body save for my face. To add to the strangeness, it was totally silent.
We were awaken at around 7 a.m. by a hotel employee offering cups of hot lingonberry juice. Technically, guests can remain in their rooms all morning, but the hotel opens to the public at 10, when anyone is free to poke their heads inside the rooms.
The hotel offers tons of activities like snowmobile excursions, dog sledding, northern lights hunts and visits to Sami villages, but they were all sold out by the time we thought to try to book anything.
We booked the hotel about a year in advance, and even then could only get one cold night. The warm rooms for the following nights were sold out.
The hotel is located in Jukkasjärvi, a small village 200 km above the Arctic Circle with 1,100 residents and 1,000 dogs.Tweet