The Ice Hotel
Since the opening in 1990, the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi (near the city of Kiruna in northern Sweden) has grown to be Sweden’s perhaps most well-known attraction, visited every year by 50 000 guests from all over the world. Just as the name suggests, the Ice Hotel is built entirely from ice and snow and is truly a unique work of art, each year unlike the last due to the visiting artists and designers who gives the hotel their own distinct touch.
The chilly and amazingly tranquil hotel is situated on the shores of Torne River and a large portion of the construction material is collected right on site when the water freezes. It’s an amazing cycle that is repeated every year when the construction begins in late fall/early winter, and when the spring comes, the hotel slowly melts back to where it came from leaving only the wilderness behind.
Despite the unusual and somewhat unpractical construction technique the Ice Hotel features almost everything you would normally find at a hotel, including a reception, a hotel bar and restaurant, accommodation, suites and even a church (which is a very popular wedding venue by the way).
The available rooms are divided into several types of which some are uniquely designed by artists, but there are also simpler rooms and family accommodation. For those not comfortable sleeping in -5 C and completely surrounded by ice and snow, there’s fortunately an adjacent building offering normal, heated accomodation with bathrooms and sauna.
So what’s it like sleeping in a room of ice? In fact, the chilly temperature is for most people rarely much of a problem as layered clothing and quality sleeping bags allows for a quite cozy night. The complete lack of windows and the unique atmosphere is much more often a greater change of bedroom environment. The snowy walls may create a very different acoustic feel that many people find strange and unfamiliar – but at the same time refreshingly serene and peaceful.
The Ice Hotel is actually far from the only thing to see in the area. The surrounding wilderness, as well as all the adventurous activities that comes with it, attracts thousands of people every year to this remote part of northern Sweden. Watching the northern lights and dog sledding are often high up on the agenda, but even in the summer there’s a steady stream of visitors looking to go hiking in the stunning and rugged landscape.
The hotel itself is open between December and April but finding available icy rooms might be difficult when the season approaches.
If you have the time, it may also be well worth your while to take the trip out to Abisko National Park.
How to get there?
The Ice Hotel is situated about 15-20 km from the city of Kiruna. It’s easily accessible by the E10 highway and Marknadsvägen, either by car, taxi or by local buses. One-way taxi is about 400-450 SEK and keep in mind that the buses (line 501 from the Kiruna bus station) does not offer very frequent departures. Renting a car may be a more reliable option and will also let you experience the surrounding areas as you please.
If you’re not driving to Kiruna, it’s easy to get there either by domestic flights or by train.
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