Back in the Autumn of 1990, friends Par Granlund and Yngve Bergqvist had a vision to build an igloo, in the Inuit style but bigger than ever created before. Their first igloo, located in the small town of Jukkasjarvi in Sweden, was a simple art gallery visited mainly by curious locals. Growing in size annually in a never-to-be-repeated design, ice rooms were included in the late nineties for those wishing to stay longer, seek inspiration and to admire the building and its stunning location. The IceHotel in Jukkasjarvi is still rebuilt every year but nowadays ice hotels are popping up in several other northern countries, catering to adventurous travelers looking for a cool retreat.
Note that these are not the type of places where you can turn up outside the door looking for a room. Most of these ice hotels have to be booked up to a year in advance.
Situated high above the Polar Circle, the Snow Village’s rooms feature sculpted ice furniture, and some also have ice and snow decorations. Guest can have a dinner in the IceBar or enjoy the igloo disco. Orthey can just marvel at the magnificent sculpture art all around the area. The hotel also offers organized activities such as ice fishing, dog sledding trips and snowmobile and reindeer safaris.
The Alpha Resort Tomamu in Japan features its own ice village where guest can stay in a hotel where dining room, bedroom and bathroom are all made out of ice. Even dinner is served on an ice plate. It doesn’t come cheap though. At about 50,000 yen ($603) a night, the room runs up to two and a half times as much as comparable room elsewhere in the resort.
Located on St. Helen’s Island, the Snow Village Canada is about 5 km (3 miles) from the city center of Montreal. Each year the hotel reproduces a different major city out of ice and snow and the buildings are colorfully lit at night. Guests can relax in one of the hot tubs or get a drink in an ice glass at The Kube Ice Bar.The rooms and igloos at Snow Village are made completely of ice. The beds are made from ice, a wood frame, and a mattress. A thermal sleeping bag is provided to keep warm at night.
Located high up above the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, the Igloo Village Kakslauttanen offers accommodation in glass and snow igloos. It also features the world’s largest smoke sauna. The Igloo Village has 4 restaurants, including 2 in a traditional Laplander hut. Each restaurant serves Laplandic specialties such as reindeer and char-grilled salmon. Even the hotel’s smoke sauna has its own restaurant.During their stay guests can try exhilarating winter safaris by reindeer, husky, and snowmobile or take part in an snow rally.
Romania’s only ice hotel, the Balea Ice Hotel is situated at 2,000 meters above sea level. The hotel is rebuilt with a new design every year using ice bricks from the nearby Balea Lake. All rooms have ice beds with comfortable mattress, covered with bed-sheets and soft furs. Guests will also be provided with a sleeping bag for the night. Accessible only by cable car, Ice Hotel Balea also offers a restaurant that serves international food.
Made entirely out of ice and snow, the Snow Hotel is part of the Snow Castle of Kemi in Finland, the biggest snow fort in the world. Since 1996 it is rebuilt every winter with a different design. Despite its varying configurations, the snow castle has a few recurring elements: a chapel, a restaurant and a hotel. With an average temperature of -5°C, all the rooms at the hotel feature beds covered with lamb skin and sleeping bags. Some rooms are decorated with beautiful ice carvings.
TheKirkenes Snowhotel was opened in 2006 for the first time, and has since then provided its guests with a wonderful experience in one of Norways most beautiful surroundings. Located in the Arctic town of Kirkenes close to the Russian border, the hotel is rebuilt each winter and opens approximately at December 20. It is exclusively built with ice and snow, but there are normal beds with mattresses for a healthy sleep comfort. Next to the Snow hotel there is a heated service building and an exotic, heated Lavvo restaurant.
The Hotel de Glace is located about 5 km (3 miles) north of Quebec City, on the first slopes of the Laurentian mountains. The first ice hotel in North America, it has welcomed over a million people around the world since its opening in 2001. The Hôtel de Glace opens each year in early January providing a three-month lifespan before being brought down in April. Only the bathrooms are heated and located in a separate insulated structure. There is also a chapel where weddings are celebrated.
One of Norway’s other ice hotels the Alta Igloo Hotel is made entirely from snow and ice every year and offers guests a unique experience in the far north of the country. Reindeer leather sleeping pads and ultra-warm sleeping bags are provided in each room but with a constant temperature between -4 and -7 °C, guests are also encouraged to bring their own thermal under garments. The hotel also has a sauna and 2 outdoor hot tubs for warming up and relaxation. Snowmobile safari are available to explore the surroundings.
The Icehotel in the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden, was the world’s first ice hotel. After its first opening in 1990, the hotel has been rebuilt each year from December to April. The entire hotel is made out of snow and ice blocks taken from the frozen Torne River. Even the glasses in the bar are made of ice! Documentaries that focus on the IceHotel can be seen from time to time on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.