Seeing and staying in the IceHotel has been a bucket-list item for us. It lived up to the anticipation.
The setting was stunning, on the banks of the completely frozen Torne river from which the IceHotel has been built each fall for the last 28 years. The builders groom the ice of the river through the winter. They sweep snow off an area of the river to prevent the snow’s insulating properties from restricting the deep freezing of the river. Before the spring thaw, they harvest huge multi-ton blocks of the clear ice for use in the next fall.
Before the hotel opens for the season in December, they reconstruct the hotel corridors, public spaces and rooms from the saved ice blocks. Each year, artists and designers from around the world submit designs for rooms. The hotel owners convene a jury to make the selections, aiming never to repeat previous designs. The artists, with some help from the hotel ice artisans, have only two weeks to carve their designs in the raw ice.
Everything is ice! The corridors, the light fixtures, the gathering space.
Here’s the main ice wall in the gathering space, from inside and from outside.
Good to know that the local building codes make it clear where to find the fire extinguisher in the ICE hotel!
The staff explained strategies for sleeping in the ice rooms on the ice beds where it is -5C (long underwear, socks and cap; sleeping bag liner; sleeping bag; all spread on reindeer skins). Bedding down in an ice freezer was a new experience, so getting to sleep took a while as the excitement mellowed. The toilet rooms are in a heated adjacent building, so if you have to go in the middle of the night, you have to put on your coat and boots and scurry to the warmth.
Of course we had to go to the IceBar for cocktails in glasses made of ice. With the provided arctic outerwear, we were comfortable, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of iced cocktails (and us) on ice.
We may not have had the best sleep of your life, but the experience was extraordinary.