Would you like ice with that? 12 of the world’s most incredible ice hotels, from Sweden to Slovenia, Alaska to Andorra. Expect a frosty reception…
1. Jukkasjäroi Ice Hotel, Sweden
Jukkasjäroi Ice Hotel was the first of its kind, and is the largest. It is located in a small town 200km from the Arctic Circle inhabited by 1,100 people and 1,000 dogs, but every winter more than 50,000 people stay here in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. Covering 5,500 square meters, the hotel is built with 1,000 tonnes of ice and 30,000 tonnes of a mixture of snow and ice to strengthen the structure. Everything in the rooms is made of ice: ice block beds, ice sofas, ice bars… but at least the bathrooms are heated. The hotel is open from December to mid-April, when it starts to melt.
2. Hotel de Glace, Quebec, Canada
The luxurious Hotel de Glace near Quebec is designed and built every year in a matter of weeks. Features include a massive ice slide and a wedding chapel (made of ice, of course).
3. Arctic Resort Kakslauttanen, Finland
At the Arctic Resort Kakslauttanen in Finland you can stay in a (warm) igloo with a glass roof so you watch the Aurora from your bed. Kakslauttanen is about 250km north of the Arctic Circle, which might seem a bit out of the way, but it’s only 30 minutes from Ivalo airport.
4. Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Alta, Norway
Reindeer blankets, thermal sleeping bags and a sauna will keep you warm at the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. The hotel also organises activities such as snowmobile safaris, husky sledding and outings to see the Lights.
5. Igloo Hotel, Grandvalira, Andorra
Who says you have to go to the frozen north to enjoy a sub-zero experience? Andorra’s bijou Igloo Hotel has just four rooms and is situated at 2,350m up in the Pyrenees, so you can ski up to your front door and go snowshoeing by night under the stars.
6. Snow Village, Finland
Covering an area of 20,000 square meters, the Snow Village changes shape and size every winter, but always features ice sculptures, ice bars, an dice chapel and a 30-room snow hotel ship. If you don’t want to sleep in the ice, there is more traditional heated accommodation available.
7. Ice hotel, Quebec City, Canada
The standout feature of Montreal’s Hotel de Glace is its Jägermeister ice bar. It describes itself as a ‘unique hotel experience, a gastronomic adventure and a source of family entertainment and urban culture and sports’, but whatever, it’s got a Jägermeister ice bar And an outdoor spa, a 60-seat restaurant, a convention center and a maze.
8. Aurora Ice Museum, Alaska, USA
The Aurora Ice Hotel was built at Chena Hot Springs Resort in Fairbanks, Alaska in 2003. Unfortunately, next summer it melted. In its place is the Aurora Ice Museum. It’s open all year round thanks to a hi-tech geothermal cooling system. Although you can’t spend the night there, you can admire the museum’s chandeliers made of individually carved ice crystals which change colour every six seconds mimicking the Northern Lights and sculptures including a gigantic chess set and life-sized jousting knights,.
9. Hotel of Ice, Romanía
The Hotel of Ice was the first of its kind in Eastern Europe. The hotel is spectacularly sited next to Bale Lake high in the Carpathian Mountains. Cross-country skiers should take the famous Transfagarasan Road, but this is Dracula country, so watch out, especially at night.
10. Kemi Snow Castle, Finland
Kemi Snow Castle is a ‘true showcase of architectonic snow-work of the local constructors’. Kids will be impressed by the indoor playground made of (yes, you guessed it), snow and ice. The most romantic option is ‘Olokolo’ – love-nests built in the SnowCastle walls equipped with warm sleeping bags with clear roofs for Aurora-watching.
11. Kirkenes Snow Hotel, Norway
At Kirkenes Snow Hotel they say: ‘snow is often described as something negative, when snow is falling in larger European or American cities society stops completely and traffic is in chaos. We consider snow our friend’. Its walls are over 70 inches thick and while its temperature is stable at -5 degrees, polar sleeping bags able to withstand up to -35 degrees will keep you snug.
12. Eskimo Village, Slovenia
Slovenia’s Igloo Hotel is part of a whole Eskimo Village with igloos joined together by a system of tunnels. It’s not luxurious – the website warns that there are no showers available, although ‘using the snow to wash up a bit can be very refreshing’. However cold it is on the outside, you can warm the cockles with some ‘self-brewed igloo mulled wine’.