In Swedish Lappland, about 200 kilometer north of the Polar Circle in the small town of Jukkasjärvi, you will find the world’s largest hotel made solely by snow and ice. But don’t search for it during the summer season, since the sun, never going down, has melted the complete construction that runs out in the Torne river.
Every year, by the end of October, a group of local and invited ice sculptors meet and starts building the Ice Hotel, to be finished once again for Christmas opening. The hotel completely changes from year to year, since the suites are built around different themes, and no construction is older than six months.
The guests arrive through doors covered by reindeer skin. In wintertime, when temperatures may be as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, and the temperature inside shows minus 20, it’s wise to wear warm clothing. The night is spent in isolated sleeping bags on beds made from snow and ice and covered by reindeer fur. The family rooms have a bed which is wide enough for three persons.
The suites are decorated with art made from ice, and all sleeping rooms have baths and water closet. The hotel has also many different rooms providing a variety of accommodations. The chapel for instance is used for ceremonies, baptism and weddings. The art centre is a beautiful gallery with ice sculptures, where natural light is reflected in the carvings and creates surprising patterns when visitors walks around in specially made silver capes. The Ice Globe Theatre, inspired by Globe Theatre in London, provides first class shows and entertainment all season long. Anyway, this is the coldest hotel in Sweden.
Along with many, one of nature’s most fantastic attractions is the mystique performance of the famous Northern Lights.
The hotel’s unique restaurant, offers cuisine served on plates made from crystal clear ice. The delicious and rich selection of dishes from Lapland, for instance roasted reindeer, grilled moose, Lapland cheese, salmon, trout and whitefish, all from the area, spiced with local and imported ingredients and trimmings. As you may have expected, the hotel has its own Ice Bar where both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are served in glasses made from crystal clear ice from the Torne River. In fact these ice glasses are known through all of Absolute Ice Bars in Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. The vodka served is a wide selection of flavored and spiced Absolute vodka that makes conversation float merrily.
The mornings begin with a cup of red cowberry juice followed by a visit to the sauna before it’s time for an abundant breakfast buffet. Later during the day it is possible to take a sleigh tour with reindeer to the wildlife camp Sami, where lunch is served. The surrounding woods with natures crystal decorated trees may be explored with snowmobiles, dog sleigh or snow shoes. Minibuses drive to the coast of North Norway, where you may watch sperm whales or moose on winter tracking, if you’re lucky.
If you wish you may join lectures in ice sculpturing, but most of the guests choose to admire the beautiful art works with chattering teeth as the pieces evolve. All excursions are arranged by the hotel, preferably when booking.
The hotel is situated about 16 kilometers from Kiruna, about 90 minutes by plane from Stockholm. When booking, it is wise to ask for transfer from the airport to the hotel. It is normally by dog sleigh. http://www.icehotel.com/
Text: Tor Kjølberg. Photos: Icehotel