world’s most unusual hotels – icehotel®

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

Ice hotel - bedroom with snowballs. This opens a new browser window.

In the third of my world’s most unusual hotels series, I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of staying at this amazing hotel, situated in the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi, 200kms north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden’s Lapland.

Each year with the onset of winter a team of artists, architects, designers and snow builders gather to create the magic that will become the ICEHOTEL.  The material used is frozen water, taken from the river Torne which is situated just behind the hotel.

From the outside the ICEHOTEL looks like a very large ice building, nothing fancy.  As soon as  I opened the main doors and stepped inside, it was like stepping into another world, an amazing and somewhat surreal experience. Other than the sheer beauty, I was struck by the absolute silence.  The only sound was the crunch of snow under foot.

Led to our room, the hallways were lit with fiber optic chandeliers as they don’t give off any heat and tea lights to light the way.

Ice hotel - hallway. This opens a new browser window.

Each year selected artists create a completely new and unique design including stunning ice sculptures.  Besides bedrooms, there is the famous Absolut Vodka bar and a beautiful church.

Ice hotel - candles. This opens a new browser window.

Each bedroom is designed by an artist.  It’s really is like sleeping in a piece of art.

The colours are such amazing, crystal clear ice blues, greens from the blocks of ice and white from the sculptures and where the snow has been sprayed to create the structural forms.

Ice hotel - bedroom with polar bears. This opens a new browser window.

Ice hotel - bedroom with lamp shades. This opens a new browser window.

Ice hotel - bedroom with car. This opens a new browser window.

My friends and I stayed for 3 nights (most people only stay the night), but we really wanted to experience life living inside ice.

Even though it was a balmy -5 C we took saunas each morning and evening and then layered with lots of thermals to stay warm.  There is no heating in the hotel, thankfully it’s warm sleeping on reindeer hides and ultra warm sleeping bags.  There was one thing that was heated, and that was the toilet seats.   Imagine the pain if they weren’t!

There are lots of activities during the day, we spent a day on snowmobile tour, another visited a Sami village and tried their version of a kebab using reindeer.

At night there is the Absolut Vodka bar that is naturally built completely of ice, the table, benches, even the glasses you drink from. They are stacked at the back of the bar, because like everything else they will melt come spring.

Ice hotel - Absolut icebar. This opens a new browser window.

Come spring time, the hotel slowly starts to melt and slips back into the river Torne… ready for the next winter to create a new, inspiring hotel.

If you love the unusual, this is really worth experiencing.

Ice hotel - detailed ice design. This opens a new browser window.

Here’s your opportunity to design a room by applying to the Art Design Group.

All Photos permission and courtesy of the ICEHOTEL®.
All images copyright© Leif Milling.
Except for Absolut Icebar, copyright© Ben Nilsson/Big Ben Productions

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  1. Felicity Lerouge on May 9, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    What an extraordinary, magical experience; you’ve captured it so beautifully with your words and photographs. i shall definitely put it at the top of my list of places together.

    Friends of mine went on honeymoon to the ice hotel in Iceland. They said it was a romantic, fairy tale experience. We could all do with a little magic in our lives, couldn’t we? Thanks for sprinkling a little fairy dust with this blog.

    • admin on May 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      It’s definitely one of those 101 things to do before I ….

      What a magical place to go on a honeymoon. With there being the most ethereal church, an amazing place to get married, albeit thermals under the wedding dress 😉

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