The Icehotel – Sweden
Ethereal and whimsical, the Icehotel is an experience like no other. It is the world’s first hotel built entirely from snow and ice, with each year bringing new, exquisite and intricate designs, carvings and sculptures, before they melt away in Spring. Consequently, no two seasons are the same. Now, with a collection of lodges and chalets, and permanent ice rooms, guests can stay all year round, and experience the wonder of the world above the Arctic Circle.
Explore the surrounding wilderness on snowmobile or horseback; marvel at the northern lights or bask in the midnight sun.
At A Glance
Why We Love It:It is a bucket list experience.
Style:Winter wonderland chic.
Location:125 miles above the Arctic Circle, in the village of Jukkasjarvi, with the option of a dog sled transfer from the airport.
Rooms:Intricately designed rooms & suites of snow & ice, with beds of ice & reindeer hide.
Swimming:Wild swimming in the summer.
Children:Definitely one for families whose (older) children don’t mind the cold.
Accessibility:Not suitable for people with mobility issues.
Open From:All year round.
Price:Price from £120 per room, per night.
Between December and April, the Icehotel has an ephemeral collection of rooms and suites. With an ambient temperature of minus 5 to minus 8 degrees, these rooms are just for sleeping in – the hotel comes with warm changing rooms and bathrooms, and most guests only spend one night as part of their stay. The beds are made entirely of ice, with a thick mattress topped with reindeer hide – cosy thermal sleeping bags are provided.
The Ice Rooms have the same design, whilst the Art Suites are each individually hand-carved by artists commissioned from around the world and are one-off creations. Until 6pm each evening, these suites are an art gallery. Inside a specially designed building, run on solar power, the Icehotel 365 has a collection of individually designed suites, from the Art Suites 365 to the Deluxe Suites 365 with their own private warm bathroom and sauna. If you prefer your creature comforts, there’s a collection of rooms, and two-bedroomed apartments and traditional Scandinavian chalets.
Even in the warmer surrounds of the Icehotel Restaurant, the chilled theme is omnipresent. Dishes served on plates of ice, showcase the best of northern Swedish produce and gastronomy. Amuse-bouches and three or four course meals of Arctic char, moose and foraged berries and herbs, are all delightfully presented. On the banks of the River Torne, the Old Homestead serves equally inventive dishes and pizza. Depending on the season, there are wilderness dinners to be enjoyed with the Northern Lights as a backdrop or in the midnight sun. No stay here should be without a visit to the Icebar – where all the drinks come with ice!
Come winter or summer, spring or autumn, a visit to these far northern parts of Sweden, brings different opportunities and experiences. Between November and May, when with luck, you’ll get to see the spectacle that is the northern lights, there’s a host of ways to explore the frozen and pristine wilderness. There are overnight snowmobile tours to rustic camps, with dinner and a sauna; dog sledding adventures; ice fishing through metre-thick ice and even horse riding to watch nature’s finest light show.
You can also learn to ice sculpt, learning from the artists who create the one-off designs around you. During the warmer months, take a river cruise in a traditional boat, along the Torne, or if you’re after a bit more adrenalin, raft down the rapids. There’s mountain hiking and plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal with native wildlife, including a chance to see reindeer calving. No stay in Sweden should be without a traditional massage or sauna – the Jukkasjarvi Sauna Ritual involves hot steam, followed by a plunge into the Torne River – definitely not for the faint hearted! This is certainly a place to embrace your inner heat.
Due to the cold, during the winter the Icehotel is very much an adult adventure. Many of the activities have an age restriction of twelve plus.
The essential premise of the Icehotel is to borrow ice from the River Torne each winter, and return it in spring as water. Throughout the summer, it is run on renewable energy from solar panels and regular donations are made to WaterAid, an organisation dedicated to the supply of clean water around the world.
What a stay here might look like
Day one, an ice-themed arrival day staying in one of The Icehotel’s stunning cold rooms. For dinner sample the Icemenu before retiring to your room for a night surrounded by ice! Day two, the wilderness day, with a dogsledding trip in the morning, a Sami experience in the afternoon and to round the day off, an opportunity to see the Northern Lights on a Snowmobile trip in the evening, with dinner included. Stay in one of the Icehotel’s warm rooms on your second evening.
For your third day, take part in an Icesculpting class, before taking some time to explore the grounds of the Icehotel. Embark on a snowmobile adventure out into the forest in the evening where you can spend your final night in one of the Icehotel’s wilderness cabins.
125 miles above the Arctic Circle, in the village of Jukkasjarvi, with the option of a dog sled transfer from the airport.