The realization that there could be a niche for sub-zero, icy sleeping quarters for holidaymakers, newlyweds, conference or team builders, dawned in 1989 when people asked to stay in an igloo structure that was erected to test a new snow building technique not terribly far from the Arctic Circle. The magical location, with its northern lights, midnight sun, range of memorable activities, and pristine river ice captivated imagination and inspired awe. The idea was transformed into reality by Founder Yngve Bergqvist and can now be enjoyed in the breath taking, uniquely hand sculpted Ice Hotel and brand new Ice Hotel 365 in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
Each year, Ice Hotel, which has won the Signum Prize and World Travel Awards, sees the gathering of artists, designers and engineers from all over the world. They come to partake in an inspiring annual mission and ritual. Imagination, an interesting concept, team spirit, and willingness to make each selected submission a reality within 6 weeks, are the requirements. Each year an exceptional team gathers to let imagination, fantasy, philosophy and expression run loose on the 1000m2 of “snice” blocks (snow and ice) harvested earlier in the year from the impressive Torne river and landscape.
The artists and designers of the permanent Ice Hotel 365 are mainly veteran contributors who have been hand selected for the task, and each of the rooms, which range in themes this year from the roaring 20’s to an enchanting crystal forest, also offer a warm room and private sauna, so enjoying a comfortable temperature is always possible. The chiselled Cold Rooms and suites come with all the winter gear you will need to stay toasty, including real reindeer pelt throws for authentic and effective insulation from the -5 C degrees interior temperature. Locally sourced delicacies presented by the Michelin trained chef can be enjoyed in the elegant Ice Hotel Restaurant, and lunches and cocktails are also served to the highest standards.
It may be located just 200km from the Arctic Circle, but there is an incredible choice of fascinating things to do and see. For those wishing to explore the local snowy landscape, sled dogs and snowmobiles take visitors out for an exhilarating rush against the crisp whiteness to where you can enjoy watching wild moose, deer, and reindeer…most often with a glimpse of the shimmering effervescence of the Aurora Borealis lighting up the vast open skyline. If you really want to get into the spirit of creation, you can take an Ice Sculpture class, which seemingly, is easier than you would think! Photography of the gorgeous surrounding flora and fauna can also be arranged, as well as skiing, and paddle boarding and rafting on the river.
It’s easy to imagine that it would be difficult for the artists to put such creativity and beauty into every inch of every surface and wall of the hotel…only to watch it melt back into the river each Spring, leaving no trace except a pressing upon the ground. However, everyone involved in the process agrees that there is something truly powerful, deeply enriching, and even joyous in the process of becoming part of Nature’s cycle: birth, growth, transition, letting go, rebirth… and how particularly poignant and profound that feels upon such impactful, virgin wilderness. They also talk of the indelible camaraderie and bond that is created between them and how more than a few are now regulars every year as the urge to create something even more spectacular each time, draws the wizards of the ice back to unfold the new season’s story.
Booking in advance for this once in a lifetime experience is highly recommended. For more information on how to enjoy an exhilarating stay at the Ice Hotel, visit www.icehotel.com