If you are looking for an arctic adventure this winter to embrace the cold instead of escaping it, why not book a stay in an igloo for a night in one of the coldest climates on earth? Since the world’s first ice hotel popped up in northern Sweden almost 30 years ago, its concept has been copied in several other winter destinations. The idea remains throughout: structures ranging from intimate hotels to huge villages and even castles are built (and redesigned) each winter, mixing tonnes of snow and ice blocks with luxe amenities and bespoke designs. Read on to see the five coolest ice hotels around the globe that will provide a memorable wintry escape.
1- THE ORIGINAL ONE
Located in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi, IceHotel is the world’s first resort made of snow and ice blocks taken from the nearby Torne River. Since its opening in 1990, different artists and builders have been invited to sculpt and create bespoke icy rooms and decor every winter. Mornings are spent with a cup of hot lingonberry juice at your bedside and a sauna session and hot shower before breakfast. Don’t worry about staying warm—IceHotel provides thermal sleeping bags on top of plush bedding for you to retreat into warm comfort after a day filled with snowventures. Guests are encouraged to combine one cold night in a non-heated room with a couple of warm nights in a heated room to get the best of both experiences.
2-THE ADVENTUROUS ONE
Snowhotel Kirkenes, Norway
Just under five miles outside the small north-eastern town of Kirkenes, the Snowhotel is set in dramatic Arctic surroundings by the Barents Sea. Also an ideal setting to view the Northern Lights, it houses warm wooden cabins open all year and a separate hotel made only of snow and ice that opens during the winter. Twenty ice rooms are crafted by hand to create a cosy atmosphere complete with crackling fires, thick rugs and rustic wooden furniture (rooms stay at a cool -4°C). While the hotel boasts great facilities like the sauna, the highlight of theis hotel is its plethora of snow activities. Some 180 huskies live on the hotel premises, where you can meet the snow dogs of all ages (puppies included) but also be whisked away on husky safaris, where you’ll learn to drive a sled guided by the strong dogs. Or go ice-fishing on a king-crab safari, where you’ll travel by snowmobile onto the frozen fjords to catch, cook and eat the gigantic crustaceans. Another bespoke activity is the Northern Lights adventure where you’ll drive your own snowmobile late at night to catch sight of the breathtaking natural phenomenon. Two restaurants include Gabba, the small hut where snacks and warm drinks are served, and Høyloftet Restaurant, the breakfast and dinner spot with a set menu of regional dishes including reindeer filet, Arctic char or king-crab soup. To warm up with a strong tipple before bed, the Snowhotel is home to Norway’s largest ice bar where you can drink out of ice glasses and smash them when you’re finished.
3-THE FAMILY ONE
Hôtel de Glace, Quebec
Canada’s Hôtel de Glace is the only ice hotel in North America, a short 10-minute drive from Québec City. Towering snow vaults, a hot tub under the stars and a twirling tube slide are all made entirely of ice, while a fireworks display on opening night makes for a family friendly affair. The 42 rooms and suites are at a chilly -5°C, but guests are kept warm with insulated sheets and pillows, some rooms even boasting a fireplace. Other means to stay warm are at the sauna and the Aroma Spa that offers thermal treatments. The hotel is built around a different theme each year, with this year’s set to be announced in December.
4–THE INTIMATE ONE
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Norway
The ancestors of this family-owned hotel first settled in Sorrisniva in 1885, establishing themselves in the area with a boat tour business in the Seventies and later with organised snowmobile safaris, finally opening the the Igloo Hotel on the banks of the Alta River in 2001. Previous themes at this 30-room hotel have been based around Vikings, Nordic legends and Arctic life, designed to share Norwegian culture with visitors. Here, a morning trip to the sauna starts as early as 7am to get you feeling toasty before breakfast, while the hotel provides thermal clothing to guests to ensure warmth. The cosy Laksestuna restaurant, decorated with local slate, rocks from the river and wood, follows a food calendar for meals made with seasonal ingredients, including fish from the Alta fjord. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, Sorrisniva offers the tranquil escape where you’ll be sipping on an ice drink and relaxing in the outdoor hot baths, before you curl up in your sleeping bag and enjoy the thrilling contrast between warm and cold.
5-THE FAR-AWAY ONE
Ice Hotel at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, Japan
Located in Japan’s ski town Hokkaido, this hotel features igloo domes where rooms stay at a cool -6°C. Surrounded by a white birch forest, on-site amenities include an outdoor arctic bath where guests can heat up in the middle of the snow, as well as an ice lounge where a wide selection of Japanese spirits are made ready to warm you up. To explore more of the frozen terrain, the nearby Ice Village houses an ice skating rink, an ice sweets shop, a bakery, and an ice slide to bring out your inner child as you embrace the cold. With outside temperatures that reach a frigid -30°C, be sure to bundle up for a stay at this unique ice hotel.