ICEHOTEL – a frozen dream of Sweden

ICEHOTEL is a hotel built each year with snow and ice in the village of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, about 17 kilometres (11 mi) from Kiruna. It is the world’s first ice hotel.ICEHOTEL

After its first opening in 1990, the hotel has been built each year from December to April. The hotel, including the chairs and beds, is constructed from snow and ice blocks taken from the nearby Torne River. Artists are invited to create different rooms and decorations made by ice. Besides bedrooms, there is a bar, with glasses made of ice and an ice chapel that is popular with marrying couples. The structure remains below freezing, around −5 °C (23 °F).

What you hear is barely audible – an abstract, minimalist concert. Dry and frosty little creaking noises. A sudden snapping counterpoint. This is the sound of the ice.

It has been an enchanting day. Overwhelming. First arriving at Kiruna airport at twilight. Then travelling by dogsled through a landscape so crisp and white, so pure and quiet that every now and then it felt as though you were moving in a state of weightlessness toward the small village of Jukkasjärvi.

Check-in at the absolutely incredible ICEHOTEL. Every bit as amazing as you had hoped it would be. Double rooms and suites constructed entirely of ice. An ice lobby, a chamber of ice pillars and the famous Icebar, where you ordered a whisky on the rocks – naturally.

Everything has a bluish sheen, as though you were staying in a glacier that had just calved.

But best of all was what happened later. You witnessed one of nature’s greatest dramatic performances. The thermometer showed -20 degrees Centigrade and the fir trees were like black coal silhouettes against an endless starry sky.

And then came the Northern Lights. Luminous, heavenly curtains of blues and greens billowing in a cosmic wind.

You think about all the classic luxury hotels, smart boutique hotels and minimalist designer hotels around the world. All beautiful, grandiose and well worth the price. But there is only one truly unique hotel, only one once-in-a-lifetime hotel. The ICEHOTEL. A frozen dream.

And where better to experience a frozen dream than on a bed of ice. For that is where you sleep, of course, but the base of wooden slats, the mattress and the thick reindeer skin keep the chill away.

You feel surprisingly warm, maybe because of the down-filled sleeping bag or maybe because you sleep wearing a fur hat. You hear new sounds – the sounds of morning activity as the day begins. Staff and guests moving about. Muffled voices. After a while, a maid comes into your room bringing you a hot, steaming lingonberry drink.

Today you’re going on a snowmobile safari to the pastures where moose graze in the winter.

Utterly natural. Utterly surreal. Utterly inspiring.

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