Ice hotels are a particular amazing sight (and concept) for those of use who don’t live in snow covered areas, but there are actually a few of them out there. The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi Sweden is the original ice hotel, and has been around since 1989.
The hotel is created entirely from snow and ice, and each year different artists are commissioned to come in and do the artwork on the walls, floors, and ceiling of the hotel and all the rooms. All of the ice and snow comes from a river near the Arctic Circle which is one of the last wild rivers in Europe altogether. In the springtime the snow naturally melts away, so the hotel opens in December each year and remains until it starts to melt.
The hotel offers both warm and cold rooms, and most guests find it most appealing to stay in one of the cold rooms for one night and then stay in the warm rooms for the rest of the time. There are usually 65 rooms available each year but this can change depending on the design of the year. Keep in mind that since the hotel is an art exhibition as well as a hotel, it can get a bit busy as far as tourists go. A lot of people come by to check out the hotel that aren’t staying there, in other words, which can be upwards of 50,000 a season.
The Ice Bar at the hotel is a must see. All of the drinks are served in glass wear made out of ice, and like the rest of the hotel the bar is designed differently each year so you will never see that same place twice if you make multiple visits to the hotel. The dance floor at the Ice Bar is covered in snow. The restaurant at the Ice Hotel is not one of cold spots and is instead located in one of their warm buildings. But they offer a classic ice menu with food served on ice plates, and all of the dishes are inspired by the nearby river. The ice menu meal might include something like fillet of reindeer, Arctic char, and potato fondant.
The Ice Hotel even hosts weddings, since they have an Ice Church that holds 35-40 guests. They also offer wedding venues in the off season, as the traditionally built, rustic Jukkasjärvi village church has been around since the 1600’s. For the wedding night, the hotel offers specially made sleeping bags that fit two people so you can still do the cold experience without missing out on the romance!
There are plenty of activities to be done when you’re not admiring the sculpture that is the Ice Hotel. For one thing the hotel is a prime location to check out the Northern Lights. There are introductory ice sculpting glasses to be taken, dog sled tours to hop on, cross country skiing, snow mobile tours, horse back riding tours, and you can even get up close and personal with the reindeer that inhabit the area.