ICEHOTEL Main Hall. Artists: Jens Thoms Ivarsson, Marinus Vroom, Marjolein Vonk. Photo: Paulina Holmgren
ICEHOTEL Main Hall. Artists: Jens Thoms Ivarsson, Marinus Vroom, Marjolein Vonk. Photo: Paulina Holmgren

It seems like winter is lingering this year. And, while most of us are ready for spring, there is a fantastic architectural wonder in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden that embraces winter all year long.

Welcome to the ICEHOTEL.

ICEHOTEL is built completely of snow and ice. More than 100 architects and artists design and build the rooms and corridors by sculpting several tons of ice at a time. It is the first and largest ice hotel in the world that originated in the 1980’s as a way to get tourists to visit the small Swedish village in the depths of winter.

What started as a small igloo on the shore of the Torne River to test the concept has become a 59,000 square foot colossal structure that has been a destination spot for the Swedish royal family and travelers looking for a one of a kind experience.

ICEHOTEL Art Suite. Artists: Jonas Gencevicius & Jurgita Genceviciene. Photo: Paulina Holmgren
ICEHOTEL Art Suite. Artists: Jonas Gencevicius & Jurgita Genceviciene. Photo: Paulina Holmgren

 

 

Because the hotel literally melts away around mid-April, the artistic designs change from year to year as visiting artists from around the world offer their creativity to this living masterpiece.

During the day, ICEHOTEL is an art exhibit that is open to the public. At night, the 65 guest rooms become a chilly fortress of 17 degrees.

Guests are equipped with thermal underwear and wool hats for sleeping. Getting into bed involves crawling into a sleeping bag perched on top of reindeer hides that sit on a mattress covering a block of ice. It s safe to say that most guests give the chilly experience a try for one night then opt for the warmer accommodations offered by the hotel for the rest of their stay.

ICEHOUSE corridor. Photo: Paulina Holmgren
ICEHOUSE corridor. Photo: Paulina Holmgren

The hotel is open for guests December – April. By mid-spring the enormous structure begins to melt. At the same time, more than 4400 tons of ice is collected from the Torne River and placed in cold storage for the summer months.

Construction for next year’s hotel begins in November and the process begins again. Popular activities during your stay might include seeing the Northern Lights by snowmobile, ice sculpting classes, dog-sledding or watching moose in the wilderness on horseback.

Even though the main attraction melts away in the spring, Jukkasjarvi is a destination all year-round. ICEHOTEL has additional accommodations for visitors during the other seasons of the year including a Summer ICEHOTEL with three art suites. Summer activities here include ice sculpting (of course!!), Midnight sun tours, wilderness excursions and whitewater rafting.

If there was ever a destination for a traveler to ‘earn’ bragging rights, ICEHOTEL is it!