There’s no denying it: I was scared. We were going to be sleeping on a block of ice, in a room built from ice and all we would be wearing was some long john’s and a vest! I was SERIOUSLY second guessing this decision. What had I been thinking???
I’d been thinking it would be the experience of a lifetime. That I would never forgive myself if I went to Sweden in the middle of winter and didn’t go to the ICEHOTEL. I was right! It was an AMAZING experience and I am so happy that we did it.
The hotel is rebuilt from scratch each year. Each year a hotel and chapel is constructed from a new design. Each year, when the temperature rises the ice melts and the water flows back into the Torne River where it had been harvested in blocks earlier in the season.
There are no words to describe the ice hotel. The blocks of ice are crystal clear; you can literally see through them. In one or two of them you’ll see a leaf or flower, frozen in time and making it so much more real. If it weren’t for those, you wouldn’t believe that the ice is naturally produced. It’s so perfect and so beautiful.
In the hotel there are a few different types of rooms: art suites, aurora suites and ice rooms. Artist from around the world apply each year to be one of the creators of an art suite. They all submit ideas and only the best are chosen. Aurora suites have an extra touch of aurora in them: the suites are lit with the colours of the aurora. Ice rooms are the most basic: your ice bed in an ice room. We stayed in an ice room. This is our room below.
We had dinner at the ICEHOTEL restaurant which is across the road form the ICEHOTEL. Yes, it’s on a road just like any other hotel (I somehow pictures it more off the beaten track). This meal was rather pricey, just like everything else in Sweden. It was delicious and we had a change to taste Elk carpaccio and dessert came served in an ice bowl!
Before going to our room, we made a stop in the ICEBAR for a cocktail in a glass made entirely of ice. After purchasing your cocktail, the glasses are yours to keep. For however long you have with them until they melt into a puddle!
During the day, the hotel is effectively a museum: visitors are welcome to visit all of the rooms and take photos. After 6pm, the hotel is closed to visitors, and guests are free to go to their rooms. When it comes time to go to your room, you go to the locker room where all your luggage and belongings are stored in a giant locker and strip down to your long john’s, a vest and a beanie. You collect your sleeping bag and you’re ready to go. It’s advised that you do not shower at least three hours before going to your room as the shower washes away the natural oils that your skin produces. These oils are what protect your skin from cold.
You take your sleeping bag over your shoulders, run to your room. Take your boots off as quickly as possible and jump into your sleeping bag. Once you’re in your sleeping bag, it’s really not too cold at all. They say that your night in the ICEHOTEL is the best sleep you’ll get. We had a bit of a different experience. The zip on my side of the sleeping bag was broken and kept unzipping to expose me to the icy air. To add to this, it turned out that ET was getting sick and spent the night coughing and blowing his nose. All the other travellers we met said they had a wonderful night.
Our second night in the ICEHOTEL was in a warm room. This is a standard hotel room and not built from ice. After our unlucky sleeping bag, I was rather relieved to have a normal bed. We also went on a reindeer excursion where we got to ride a reindeer sled (rather terrifying, they look absolutely rabid) and then enjoy a traditional Sami meal of reindeer meat and lingon berry juice in a tepee!
We were very lucky with the weather while we were there. Earlier in the season, temperature had dropped as low as -42C. Eeek! We had a balmy -5C or -10C and sunny skies. So although we may not have seen the northern lights from the hotel Aurora balcony (made of ice), we couldn’t have asked for more.
Despite not having a great night of sleep, the ICEHOTEL was an unforgettable experience. To anyone travelling to Sweden in winter: DO IT! You won’t regret it. If you have any concerns or questions, send me a mail and I’ll help however I can.