ICEHOTEL Sweden Celebrates Its 25th Edition

21 January 2015

As parts of the Southern Hemisphere experience record heat, no doubt you’re dreaming of spending the night in an ICEHOTEL instead of sticking to your sheets as the sweat drips off your brow while you try to catch some ZZZ’s.

Either start planning your trip to Sweden right now, or at the very least, the frozen images below will help bring you some reprieve as you imagine yourself reclining for the night on a slab of ice, covered in fur, marvelling at the intricate ice-sculptures around you.

 An intricate ICEHOTEL 25th Edition 'Art Suite'. Photo by Paulina Holmgren

Every year for the past 25 years, from October to December, the ICEHOTEL is built from scratch – well, ice actually – 1,000 tonnes of it, plus around 30,000 tonnes of ‘snice’ which is the official term for material that looks and insulates like snow, but has the strength of ice. The ice is taken from the nearby Torne River and is returned via nature’s course as the hotel melts during April to June.

It takes a team of 100 people to re-construct the marvel each year, which is then visited by around 50,000 guests.

 Trip out in this dimensional 'Snow Room'. Photo by Paulina Holmgren

While there’s no heating or plumbing inside the hotel (except for the deluxe suites), each of the 60-designer rooms comes with a polar-tested sleeping bag that is designed to withstand -25 degrees Celsius, while the temperature inside the hotel never drops below a balmy -5 degrees Celsius.

Nearby, in the ‘warm accommodation’, guests can make use of a sauna and a relaxation area with a roaring fire and hot lingonberry juice on tap.

But wouldn’t you rather layer on the thermals and experience a delicious cocktail at the iconic ICEBAR where the drinks are served in glasses made out of ice and you can ‘carve it up’ on a dance floor made of ice too?

 The bar where everything is 'on ice'. Photo by Paulina Holmgren

ICEHOTEL Sweden is the first of its kind in the world. Other than it being very cool (pun intended) what is the motivation behind this elaborate yearly project? It’s about art. Isn’t it always? Each year graphic designers, architects, sculptors, artists, light designers and industrial engineers band together to bring the concept to life and the crew is chosen from a number of submissions.

Most guests who visit these northern reaches want to stay for more than one night in the ICEHOTEL. How it’s usually done is guests will stay for one night in ‘cold accommodation’ i.e. the ICEHOTEL after undergoing the ‘survival course’ that provides an introduction to the hotel and how to make the bed with the Arctic sleeping bags.

Inside the ICEHOTEL you can choose to stay in a number of different rooms: the simple ‘Snow Room'; the 'Ice Room' featuring additional furniture made from ice; the ‘Northern Lights’ room offers a unique display where you can watch the Aurora Borealis dance above your head; the ‘Art Suites’ are carved by hand and are individually designed by handpicked artists from around the world; and lastly the ‘Deluxe Suite’ ensures you sleep upon a bed of ice, while not being too far from the sauna and toilet, with your own ensuite.

In the morning the staff draw the curtains and you are greeted with a hot lingonberry juice in bed.

 Hot design in a very cool hotel. Photo by Paulina Holmgren

Guests then usually opt to stay on one or more nights in the ‘warm accommodation’ with all the modern creature comforts. Upon entering the warm site after the night’s stay in the ICEHOTEL, guests are presented with a certificate stating the date and temperature inside and outside the ICEHOTEL on the night they stayed. One for the pool room that’s for sure!

You’ll find the ICEHOTEL in the tiny northern village of Jukkasjärvi, located 200km above the Arctic Circle. You can travel there by train, plane or car.

 Sleep like a Viking. Photo by Paulina Holmgren

ICEHOTEL the 25th Edition Facts:

Rooms: 61 cold, 72 warm rooms

Visitors: 50, 000 annually

Overnight guests: 35,000

No. of wedding ceremonies: 80

No. of participating artists: 42 people from 11 countries

No. of construction staff: 55

Fun fact: 10 seconds’ water flow in the Torne River from which the ice is collected = 4,000 tonnes of ice (meaning the equivalent of about four ice hotels float past Jukkasjärvi every 10 seconds).

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Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.