Staying at the Ice Hotel – is a Once in a Lifetime Experience….. Actually, I have been lucky enough to do this before, so for me it wasn’t a Once in a Lifetime Experience, but I had promised my daughter I would take her and so 16 years after the first time I returned. The first time she was actually with me – but in my tummy as I was pregnant with her!
The Ice Hotel is rebuilt every year from blocks of ice harvested from the Torne river and each year new designs of the ICEBAR, chapel and art suites are created with artists from all over the world being invited to submit their designs. In fact anyone can submit an idea for consideration so locals have often designed suites presenting their ideas on a back of a napkin- I exaggerate not! The temperature is kept at a constant minus 5 Celsius and so it is often warmer inside the Ice Hotel than it is outside!
By the second time I had learnt some of the tricks of the trade and the ice hotel had evolved. On my first trip the beds were a slab of ice with a reindeer skin on top and you slept in an Arctic sleeping bag. The ice was very hard on the hips! Nowadays you have a proper mattress which is embedded in ice. The effect is just as spectacular but it is a lot more comfortable.
The first time when they told me just to wear one layer I ignored their advise and took 3 layers with me to keep warm. This was actually a disaster as half way through the night I was so hot I was sweating and opened the zipper. The sweat dried taking heat with it and I never got warm again. So when they say just wear 1 or 2 layers max – listen to them- they know what they are doing!
Most people on their Ice Hotel Breaks spend the evening in the ice bar drinking cocktails or relaxing in the lounge area with hot chocolate and coffee in front of log fires before retiring to their Art Suites.
You have a secure changing room with a locker where you can leave your belongings and change into your pj’s. You will be given a small pillow, an arctic sleeping bag and inner, a beanie hat and a pouch to put your phone in (The cold kills the phone battery so it is important to keep it warm). The walk from there to your suite is very short though you have to duck outside to get to the actual Ice Hotel.
You then walk through the most stunning hallway with colonnades of ice pillars and ice chandeliers to get to the corridors of suites.
The suites are spectacular and you never quite know what you are going to get with huge variety in styles and themes. During the day time you can wander through the whole hotel and get to see all of the different styles.
Our Suite this year was The Great Gatsby with an art deco theme. Though the wall that was made to look like a stained glass window, (but without the colour), and the carved roof reminded me more of a cathedral. Lying there looking up at this beauty in total silence was a surreal moment.
Sleep came remarkably quickly once the giggling had stopped! I woke early and crept out to the warm building for a coffee and changed back into day clothes. Showers are available and breakfast starts early for the early risers, though also carried on long enough for my teenage daughter who still managed to sleep late despite sleeping in an Ice Hotel!
For the nervous I should mention that there are “bolt bunk bed rooms” where people can come and sleep if they don’t settle in their art suite and are struggling to sleep, but none of them were used the night we were there.
It is worth a mention that on your Ice Hotel Holiday you may wish to consider the 365 Ice Hotel which can be stayed in 365 days of the year. Once inside you would think you are in the original ICEHOTEL. The Suites do seem to be more creative as they are built to last more than just one year, though equally some of them appeared a bit more tired due to more use. The Deluxe Suites in 365 all have the ensuite bathrooms via a door air lock taking you to the warm bathroom which is a real bonus, though adds a lot of cost. Obviously in the main Ice Hotel this is not possible as the loos freeze!
Staying in the Ice Hotel is AN experience. It’s not something you do everyday and it is an experience that you will never forget, (and for most people), will never experience again. An Ice Hotel Trip is surreal, magical, fantastical and very beautiful, and many of our clients combine with a Northern Lights Holiday.