For the past 27 winters something magical happens in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi. Each December a world famous hotel and art exhibition is made entirely out of ice and snow.
The Icehotel is located along the Torne River about 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. When the river freezes over, artists and architects invited from all over the globe, use the ice to create a unique hotel.
This year, 36 artists from 17 countries have created 15 art suites, a main hall, and a special ice ceremony hall. 1,000 hand-polished ice crystals were used to craft the chandeliers that hang in the main hall. “To create a suite at Icehotel is genuine, tough, magic and absolutely lovely all at the same time,” artist Annasofia Mååg said in a statement. Not only is the experience truly unique to the guests, but it’s also a special project for those building the hotel. “The art is preserved in the walls for a few months, a human imprint that slowly melts away,” she explains. “It’s fascinating to see everyone gathering here during the building period, and the people who return time and time again to create another Icehotel, year after year.”
The hotel has two types of accommodations: cold rooms made of ice where the temperature inside hovers at a constant -5° to -7° Celsius and warm cabins. Most guests—over 50,000 people check into the hotel per year—stay in an ice room one night and enjoy the rest of their stay in warm rooms.
When sleeping in the ice rooms, guests are provided with expedition-style sleeping bags and reindeer hides that cover the Carpe Diem mattresses. Access to the chilly sleeping quarters start at 6 p.m. each evening. Check in and out of the cold rooms is done in a warm building adjacent tot he Icehotel that has toilet, showers, a sauna, and luggage storage. “Many of our guests have neither slept in a sub-zero hotel, nor in a sleeping bag before, so some of them are slightly nervous before it’s time to go to bed,” Christian Wunderthe head of guest services says. “But they usually wake up in the morning, pleasantly surprised of how good they slept in the crispy air!”
Guests of Icehotel are invited to partake in a variety of activities like snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice sculpting, and arctic yoga. A Michelin-starred chef, Alexander Meier, offers foodies a 12-course tasting menu that features local produce—fir sprouts, cloudberry, and sea buckthorn. The hotel and ice exhibitions are also open daily to the public, so if you can’t work up the courage to sleep in an igloo-style accommodation, you can simply check out the rooms during the day.