'You are my Type' Suite
Sweden

Ice-Capades at the Ice Hotel, Sweden

 

“A charming fairy-tale experience…until you realise, that if it is a hotel, you’re meant to sleep in it.”     – Joanna Lumley (on her ice hotel experience)

Ever since watching Joanna Lumley sleep in an ice hotel during her documentary on Norway, about ten or so years ago, the idea of doing so myself had stayed with me.  We hadn’t specifically set out to tick this one off the bucket list, but serendipity stepped in. Lars’ offer of summer work had taken us to Norway, after which we were going to a house-sit in France for seven months. As we had already travelled through Norway, we planned to take our journey south through Sweden. We fortuitously discovered that the Ice Hotel was on our route. So here we were, about to embark on our ice-capades in this spectacular Ice Hotel in Sweden.

We stepped through into another world. A world that was immediately enchanting, captivating and magical.

World First

The Swedish Ice Hotel sits 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, in the small village of Jukkasjärvi. It originally opened in 1989 with a seasonal hotel, one that is solely built for the winter season and then melts in spring. However, in 2017, in addition to this, it also opened the new 365 Ice Hotel. The 365 is open all year round and is the first permanent ice hotel in the world.

A grey arched wall with reflective glass panels is the entrance way to the Ice hotel. Either side is a wall coming to about half the height of the entrance.
The entrance to te 365 Ice Hotel

If you visit in the months December to March, you will have a choice to stay in either the Seasonal or the 365 Ice Hotel. The Seasonal Hotel is crafted from 1000 tons of ice, harvested from the adjacent Torne River. Artists come from all around the world to create their chosen designs for that year’s hotel. Come spring the hotel melts, flowing back into the river from which it came.

As we visited in late September we were staying in the permanent 365 Ice Hotel. The temperature of about -5°C/21°F is maintained throughout the year by utilising solar panels, the perfect eco power source for the ‘land of the midnight sun’, where, in the height of the summer, the sun never sets. The 365 has twenty rooms, with a combination of Art Suites and Deluxe Suites. Each room has its own unique theme, showcasing different artists creative designs. The Deluxe Suites have a ‘warm room’ connected to them with bed, private showers and toilet.

Separate to the Ice Hotel, there are self-contained ‘normal’ cabins available all year which you can choose to stay at if you are not ice-friendly. In fact, most people only choose to stay in the Ice Hotel for one night and then move to a cabin for the rest of their stay.

A brown semi detached cabin with a bright red door and blue framed gutters.
The ‘Warm Room’ cabins.

Enchanted World

After check-in, we were keen to explore the Ice Hotel itself. At the entrance, you are given a long, thick cape before you then step into the main ice hall.  Here, you find yourself in another world.  A world that is immediately enchanting.  As your eyes move around the entrance hall, they are captivated at every glance. The combination of the icy cold, the snow-muffled silence, and being surrounded by amazingly intricate ice designs makes for a moving and surreal experience. It was more than we ever expected. It was simply beautiful.

Within the main hall, there are incredible chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. You imagine that they could not themselves be ice, but you learn that each one is made from hundreds of hand-cut ice crystals. Here, there is also an Ice Bar, where you can order an ice-themed cocktail if you’d like to add an extra chill to your experience.

In the main hall of the 365 ice hotel - An ice candelabra in the forground with 5 candles. In the background on the ceiling is an ice chandelier.

Lars, wearing a stone coloured lined thick cape with furry collar. The ice sculptures in the background.

An overview of the main hall of the 365 Ice Hotel - On the left is the serving bar backlit in blue with small ice stools covered in reindeer fur
The main Hall with bar.

A small ice robot with a heart carved where a heart would be. The ice candelabra is in the background

Creativity Abounds

Still reeling in the wonder of our fairytale surroundings, we went through the reindeer covered door into the corridor which held the ice rooms.

Here the magic continued. We felt like we had entered some kind of portal into the realm of Narnia. Each room held its own delight, with breathtaking designs. From winding ice staircases and giant deer, fireplaces and bookcases, giant statues and ice angels, they all thrilled their onlookers with their distinctive splendour.

An ice room with a figure carved from ice holding a pillow. Pillow shapes on wall made of ice
The ‘Pillow Talk’ Art Suite
Room of ice with the letters all carved in ice around the bed
‘You are my Type’ Art Suite
The bed in the middle of the photo is on a pinkish block of ice, there is a green backlit ice shelf to the left and a white half igloo on the left
The ‘Sugar Suite’ Art Suite
Blocks of ise surrounding the bed in the middle of the room have mazes carved into them
‘Don’t get Lost’ Deluxe Suite
There is huge carved deer at the back of the room with carved ice lanterns adorning the rest. The bed in the middle is covered with reindeer fur.
‘Oh Deer’ Art Suite
Two carved ice angels overlooking the bed in the middle with blue ice murals on the wall
‘Living with Angels’ Art Suite
A zigzag headboard of ice behind the bed and ice crystal chandeliers hanging over the bed
‘Teckara’ Art Suite
winding staircase made of ice leading up to a bed
‘Dreamscape’ Art Suite
Two detailed ice bookcases with carved books on them and two ice arm chairs with deerskin cushions
‘The Victorian Apartment’ Deluxe Suite

We snapped away until our fingers barely worked, the cold desperately nipping at them. We managed about fifteen minutes before our exposed body parts screamed for us to leave. It was at this point that we both wondered how on earth we could sleep there. Moreover, why would anyone in their right mind want to sleep in something akin to a ‘fridge’ overnight?

Hotel Induction

An induction session is held for all Ice Hotel guests at 5.30pm, before being given access to your room. You also receive a thermal sleeping bag, balaclava and snow boots. It is recommended that you sleep in thermal woollen leggings and top. Other things to take note of were:

  • Do not have a hot shower or sauna straight before going to bed
  • Keep fluids to a minimum near bedtime. You will not want to get out of bed to find the toilets.
  • Keep all of your belongings in your locker or warm room.
  • You should place any items that you take into the ice room (eg. phone, camera) inside your sleeping bag to prevent them from freezing.

During our stay, the reception was closed from 11 pm.  As such, a complimentary ‘warm room’ (separate cabin) was available for our use from the time of our arrival at 4.pm until 11 am the next day. This meant that if we couldn’t handle the cold in the Ice Hotel, then we had somewhere cosy to go to get a good night’s sleep. This was a fantastic deal and was great for us to store our things and to hang out in, before venturing into our ice room for the night. Though we both knew that wimping out wasn’t an option. This was a lifetime experience, and no matter how it went, it was an experience we would see through.

Northern Lights

Green swirls of northern lights above the ice Hotel with a black sky and stars
Northern Lights above the Ice Hotel

With serendipity obviously feeling in a generous mood, the Northern Lights appeared as we made our way to the Ice Hotel from our cabin, (warm room). They danced and swirled and mesmerised us with their luminous colour.

Dream Time

With nature’s wonders all around us, we excitedly made our way to our frozen chamber. Reindeer pelts cover the mattress, which tricks your mind into thinking that this is a cosy experience.  As we lay huddled in our sleeping bags we gazed at the magical bloom of ice jellyfish encircling us. Who could fail to fall asleep and dream beautiful dreams while under the influence of this unique underwater ambience?

Our room in the 365 Ice Hotel -Michelle wearing pink beanie and black heavy snow clothing.She is lying on the ice bed. All around are large jellyfish carved out of the ice.
Our room for the night in the Art Suite – ‘Hydro Smack’

However, beautiful dreams there were not. In fact, there wasn’t so much dreaming going on during the night as there was me trying to work out where the hell the head opening to my sleeping bag was. I had buried myself so deeply in the attempt to stay warm, I had completely lost my bearings. Moments of panic ensued, as I, like a caterpillar constrained in its much too snug cocoon, struggled and wriggled until I felt a brisk arctic chill invade my nostrils. A few seconds of welcome relief, knowing there was an escape route if needed, before I plunged my exposed nose back into the depths trying to find slumber. It was the kind of sleep where you feel you have been awake the whole time but too many hours have passed, so you must have unwittingly dropped off at some point.

In the morning, I emerged, not so much like a butterfly, but a dishevelled icy pole. I emerged none the less. Happy to have survived the night and not so frozen that I could be mistaken as part of the room’s bespoke art. Lars had also slept in fits and starts, and although not as cold as me, uncomfortable enough to prevent deep sleep. There seemed to be a mixed reaction from the other guests, so it’s not completely impossible to get a good nights sleep.

Defrosting Time

The wakeup call, with a cup of hot lingonberry juice, would be in an hour, at 8.00am. However, the initial thrill of our ice-capades was now wearing slightly thin. So, we peeled ourselves out of our sleeping bags, slid into the snow boots and trudged our way to the reception. Outside was a welcome balmy 2°C. We passed on the option of a sauna, downed our welcome, ‘you survived the night’ juice and retired to our ‘warm room’ for the immediate gratification of a hot shower.

We were still contemplating whether we had ‘enjoyed’ the whole experience, as we tucked into the delicious full buffet breakfast at the restaurant.  Eggs, bacon, the works. Pancakes on top? Why not? We’d just survived a night in Arctic conditions for goodness sake – we were practically arctic pioneers!

Time Magazine listed the Ice Hotel, as one of the top 100 places to visit in the world in 2018. We would have to say, that we agree. The experience far outweighed our expectations. It was absolutely worth doing and an unforgettable experience. Worth doing once … and once only.

Good to Know

Hotel

We stayed for one night in an Art Suite of the 365 Ice Hotel which cost us €232;
This included a night in Ice Hotel and a full buffet breakfast.

(We also had a complimentary warm room offered on arrival – but would advise checking with the hotel as to whether this will be offered.)


Booking.com

Guests do not have access to their ice rooms until after 6.00pm as prior to this, visitors to the hotel and other guests are able to take a tour around and admire the unique ice designs in each room.

Guided Tours around the hotel take place at 12 pm and 4 pm daily. (Free for guests)

Worth a Visit

Nutti Sami Resort (900 metres from the Ice Hotel)

Nutti Sami is a reconstructed Sami Camp. There are reindeer that you can feed by hand, interactive cultural display and a café with Sami cultural foods.

Is an Ice Hotel stay on your bucket list? We’d love to hear your thoughts or hear about any similar experiences.  Please feel free, as always, to ask us any questions.

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Pinterest pin - The experience of sleeping in an ice hotel

 

* Please note that we paid for our stay and do not have any affiliation with the Ice Hotel.

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Michelle

Author: Michelle

After finishing my Law Degree I decided to become a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, learning and most of all, about inspiring others. Now, as a writer and blogger, I love sharing our travels and our musings on life’s journey. I hope, through these, we can play a part in inspiring you to do whatever ‘satisfies your soul’.

22 Comment

  1. This is so cool! I would love to stay in the “Oh Deer” and “Teckara” Art Suite. Although, I don’t know if I’ll survive spending the night there. Love the photos esp. the one with the Northern Lights above the hotel.

  2. The room you got to sleep in looks like it would be my favorite one!

    I am in Florida and break out the sweaters when it drops below 75 F. I can’t imagine I’d be anything but miserable staying there, but it is such a unique, wondrous thing to do!

    1. You’d probably enjoy touring the rooms – the designs were amazing! We asked to change rooms and luckily the ‘Hydro Smack’ was still available. We were originally going to be in the ‘Oh Deer’ which was also cool but we preferred the jellyfish theme❤️ Thanks for having a read Marnie and taking the time to comment x

  3. Hi Michelle and Lars,
    Great post! Thank you for sharing. I had an experience similar to yours in 2009 when I stayed at the Ice Hotel with my husband. We did as you – stayed one night in an ice room and after, we were happy to move to a warm place and have a hot shower. At that time, the 365 Ice hotel didn’t exist and I didn’t know about it before I read your blog post.

    At the Seasonal Ice hotel, I was also amazed by the art rooms and I found it hard to grasp that all these beautiful ice sculptures would disappear in the spring. It was rather special to feel that what I saw at that time, no one would ever see again – only photos can immortalize the art. When I see your beautiful photos, I was reminded about my visit in 2009 and even though the art is different, I recognize the atmosphere.

    I agree with you – it was a great experience and I am glad that I’ve done it. I would like to go back to see the hotel and the art but I would stay in a warm cabin next time. So, sleeping in an ice room – yes, I can also recommend to try it once.

    I wasn’t as lucky as you to see the Northern light. I live in Sweden (Stockholm) but I’ve never seen the Northern light…

    I wonder if you visited Stockholm on your trip; if so, I am looking forward to read about that.

    Best,
    Anne

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your own experience with us Anne. The art is spectacular isn’t it – and your seasonal hotel experience would be particularly special with it being unique for that season only. Unfortunately we didn’t get to Stockholm this time but plan to go back to Scandinavia next year – so it is still on the list ❤️

  4. This place is amazing! I bet it was freezing….. but how cool!!! You guys get to visit the most awesome places I’m so jealous somedays 😁

    1. It was certainly fascinating Lesley, and the creativity involved was spectacular. We were glad to have done it as an ‘experience’ but next time we’d opt for the warm room to sleep in 😉

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