About 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle is the small Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi. It is a land where the sun shines for 50 consecutive days and nights during summer and doesn’t rise above the horizon for two weeks in the winter. The pristine landscape is blessed with about 6,000 lakes and six grand rivers. One of these rivers is the Torne River, whose ten seconds worth of water flow supplies about 4,000 tons of ice in the winter. The ice is used as the building blocks to construct the first and the only-one-of-its-kind hotel structure in the world – the Icehotel.
The Icehotel experience is not just confined to the dark days of winter, as the hotel complex houses permanent structures known as the Icehotel-365, where guests can sleep in rooms created with ice and snow all year long. It accommodates 9 Deluxe Suites with private sauna, bathroom and relaxation areas. It also has eleven Art Suites, an ice gallery and the Icebar Jukkasjärvi; all hand carved by select artists from around the globe.
When winter begins to set-in, graphic designers, architects, industrial engineers, artists and others from around the world arrive at Jukkasjärvi village to pool their resources and construct an art exhibition using snow, ice and light that becomes the Icehotel for the winter until it thaws with the coming of spring.
According to Icehotel, about 50,000 guests come from all over the world to experience this unique hotel. Guests have the option of spending the night, in the hotel rooms made of ice and snow or in the warm cabins. Most of the guests choose to stay one night in ice accommodation and the other nights in the warm hotel accommodation.
The ice rooms are constructed around a permanent reception cum convenience hub which houses the storage and plumbing facilities which are not available in the ice rooms, except the deluxe suites. The hub also has a sauna, a relaxation area with a fireplace and hot lingonberry juice on tap and is staffed and open 24 hours.
An Icehotel guide holds a “survival course” in the evening, for guests staying at the ice rooms on how to dress appropriately and how to make the bed with the Arctic sleeping bags which are made for temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, even though the temperature inside the ice rooms never drops below minus five degrees Celsius. Guests who stay at the ice rooms are given a diploma stating the date and temperature inside and outside Icehotel on the night that they stayed there.
“Many of our guests have neither slept in a sub-zero hotel, nor in a sleeping bag before – so some of them are slightly nervous before it’s time to go to bed. But they usually wake up in the morning, pleasantly surprised of how good they slept in the crisp air!” – Christian Wunder, Guest Services, Icehotel
In the winter, guests can participate in activities such as skiing, husky sledging, northern light tours and ice sculpting, while in the summer they can enjoy the tranquillity of the lush outdoors through activities such as cycling, trekking, river-rafting, and fishing.
On December 14 of this year, the seasonal part of Icehotel opens for the 29th year, and also this year, this unique frozen masterpiece of a hotel has been listed on TIME Magazine’s “2018 World’s Greatest Places.”