With winter time just around the corner, many are turning their eyes and wallets to booking beach vacations and Southern Hemisphere getaways. If that’s not your thing—or you’re willing to roll the dice and try something totally new and exciting—join us in northern Europe for an adventure you won’t soon forget!
Many countries have unusual hotels: Finnmark, Norway is home to the Kirkenes SnowHotel, open December – April and constructed each year from snow. Kemi, Finland boasts the largest snow fort in the world, the SnowCastle, open January – April, which also houses a variety of attractions for kids.
Both destinations provide incredible opportunities to experience the colder months in unforgettable ways, but the true crown jewel of northern Europe winter travel lies in a small Swedish village with more dogs than people: Sweden's ICEHOTEL.
Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden is home to just over 1,000 year-round residents, as well as perhaps the most incredible guest accommodation on the planet. ICEHOTEL is the world’s first and premiere hotel made entirely out of ice, and at 200 kilometers above the Arctic Circle, it provides luxurious lodging for guests to explore a winter wonderland in a one-of-a-kind way.
The hotel is constructed with over 1,000 tons of ice from the Torne River, and sculpted with precision by professional architects and artists invited by the organization. The hotel is made from scratch each year: world-class designers take turns sculpting the rooms, art, and structures that adorn this 5,500 square meter building. Like snowflakes, each room is a little bit different, and the layout of the hotel holds more to explore than can be covered in one visit.
Of course, no world-class hotel is complete without an accompanying fine dining experience! The managers at ICEHOTEL know this well, and run with it. Throw on your parka and head to the ICEBAR and restaurant for gourmet dining, classic and original cocktails (in ice glasses!), and a night out that stands above the rest.
Despite its location in a small Swedish village, your days at ICEHOTEL can be as full of activities as you’d like. For the adventurous, there are opportunities to snowmobile, dogsled, or practice your stunt driving skills on the ice in a Mini Cooper. For the less adrenaline-driven, guests also have plenty of options to dive in and discover the amazing culture and magic of the Arctic Circle. Visit the native Sámi people, horseback ride and view the awe-inspiring landscape and local wildlife, watch the awesome lights of the Aurora Borealis an hour away at Abisko National Park’s Aurora Sky Station, or learn to sculpt ice right at your accommodations: you’ll quickly find there is no shortage of things to discover from your surprisingly cozy ICEHOTEL base camp!
Boutique and themed hotels are starting to pop up all over the globe, but for one of the original out-of-this-world overnight experiences, look no further than Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. From its ever-changing design and endless activities to the gourmet food and lavish guest rooms, one visit to the ICEHOTEL will have you wondering why you haven’t spent more winters tucked way up in the Arctic!
*Oak - Tjåsa & Sam Gusfors; photo: Asaf Kliger. ICEHOTEL 29