Ever since I watched James Bond movie, Die Another Day, I have wanted to stay in an ice hotel. It looked so decadent and beautiful. I remember being amazed to know that ice hotels actually existed, and right there; before my bucket list was even formally created, staying in an ice hotel was officially added to it!
Of course, the structure that Bond visited was an imaginative fantasy fabrication. The Bond Ice Palace, pictured above is (apparently) a polystyrene model. The structure was both structurally implausible and of course practically inconceivable to build such refined structures out of something as unstable as ice. It meant that any real Ice Hotel I was to visit would never truly match up to my Bond Girl fantasy, but it was still exquisite.
After researching which Ice Hotel to stay in, I opted for ICEHOTEL Sweden, created from ice harvested from the Torne River on which it stands. It was the original as the world’s first, and is still currently the largest ice hotel to this day.
I think what I find most mind-blowingly special about Ice Hotels is their temporary nature… The fact that they are intentionally built at great effort and expense, fully in the knowledge that the structure will have completely melted back into the river from which the ice was harvested a mere 6 months after it opens it’s doors! Each hotel is unique and completely different from the last, with new features added each year. We stayed in Ice Hotel 23, created for the 2012-2013 season.
Ice Hotel Sweden opens its doors to guests just after Christmas and shuts again in Mid April. During this time, the Ice Hotel is already sinking into the River Torne, which is why room doors are curtains, and not solid doors in most ice hotels (as doors would become immobile with the movement of the structure).
Whilst I am pretty hardcore with some of the other experiences I have been lucky enough to have, I am a bit of a wuss with the freezing cold. I wanted to see an Ice Hotel, I didn’t particularly want to sleep on a bed of ice and snow with only a reindeer hyde and a sleeping bag to keep me warm, and didn’t feel overwhelmingly moved by the opportunity to earn a certificate to say I had ‘survived the night‘ in a cold room; so we went for the softer option in the warm and cozy alternative of a log cabin just a few metres from the main ice hotel structure.
That said, honestly, despite the frigid temperatures, I really only felt it at night when we were doing 65km per hour on a Snowmobile expedition in -22°C, and even then it was only my face and hands that felt the cold.
My partner had visited another ice hotel called Snow Hotel in Snow Village, near Finland’s Kittilä Airport previously, and was disappointed with the exterior appearance of The ICEHOTEL, but absolutely blown away with the interior design, attention to detail and art work by comparison.
The Foyer looked lovely, with it’s ice desk, and the Ice bar off to the left (which you can read about in my next post: Drink Vodka in an ICEBAR), but through the double doors into the main corridor caused me to take a sharp intake of breath! It was a long ‘snice’ (snow and ice) corridor with further corridors of rooms off to the left and right and this amazing lounge area half way down
At the end of the main corridor was an ice wall that allowed diffused sunlight through during daylight hours; bathing the feature chandelier area with an almost ethereal light. I honestly found it hard to tear myself away from each area as I tried to fully absorb the beauty and presence of the place. It is truly hard to comprehend or put into words which is why I have really decided to share this in pictures. I tried to take video-but have decided against posting that, as honestly-I just couldn’t do the experience justice!
There were three types of cold room, standard rooms (pretty dull), Northern Lights rooms like this one to the left here which simulate the Aurora Borealis phenomena and were a new feature to the ICEHOTEL for this season; and Art Suites.
All of the art suites are unique and one-off, created by different ice sculpters abd artists Which It was hard for me to choose a favourite; but here are the three that for me are joint favourites:
Other art suites included:
The hotel interior is a constant -5°C regardless if the temperature outside (which was -22°C on our night there). Inside the room, it felt very quiet and still.
I have been asked how you wash and use the washroom if you sleep in one of these; you have a locker to pop your things in and a warm room set aside for you (should you not wish to stay the entire night in your cold room). Washroom facilities are in the adjoining warm building, so if you have an urgent call of nature to attend to, you need to climb out of your arctic sleeping bag, don your warm clothes and walk to the loo to relieve yourself. Downing a few vodka cocktails at the ICE BAR to dull the cold is therefore, not necessarily the best strategy if you don’t have a cast iron bladder!
There was also a beautiful ice church, so that guests may have wedding ceremonies at the hotel and an Ice Art Gallery building where art was on show both inside and out:
Art Exhibition Centre:
So… Would you like to stay in an ice hotel? Have you already done so? …How was your experience?
Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below if you are thinking about a visit!
Coming up soon: My posts on seeing the Northern Lights in Abisko, Visiting an African Orphanage, Going on a Driving Safari in Africa, Feeding Giraffes by Hand, and Festival Season is Almost Upon Us!
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