Looking for a unique experience on your journey to Lapland ? Then try a frosty night in an ice hotel! If such an experience leaves you cold, you can visit the place during the day, one more activity to add to your bucket list after snowmobiling, ice fishing, or dog sledding…
What is an ice hotel ?
An ice hotel is an ephemeral work of art made entirely of snow and ice. The architecture, the design, the play of light, the sculptures, and the decorations make it a fairy tale universe. Contrary to what most people think, it is not made of ice blocks: its architecture consists of a series of snow vaults. The quality of the snow is essential. The snow must be white and durable. Artificial snow, wetter than natural snow, gives more stability to a snow vault once the snow has hardened. Each winter, a one-of-the-kind version of the Ice hotel is built. The process starts with the construction of the frame structure on which the snow is sprayed and allowed to freeze. After a few days, the snow turns into opaque ice, and the structure is removed, leaving a number of free-standing vaults. The interior is fitted out with columns and ice blocks. LED lights illuminate the spaces and project colored light on the different ice elements, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere. Light games, ice sculptures, an ice bar for cocktails in ice glasses, everything is done to create a warm atmosphere (well, so to speak).
The first ice hotel in Lapland: the iceHotel in Jukkasjärvi
In 1989, the first ice hotel opened its doors in Lapland, in Jukkasjärvi (pronounced “Youk-kass-yèr-vi” with your mouth full). In this small village, 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the Icehotel is built each year from thousands of ice blocks cut from the Torne River and about 30,000 tons of snow. In the fall, usually in Mid-November, when the temperature drops, the construction process begins for a new rendition. The hotel welcomes its first guests and visitors in December and remains open until April, when the snow and ice melt away and return to the Torne River. The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi is the biggest hotel of ice and snow in the world, covering over 64,600 mi2. The number of rooms varies yearly, and the design of the Suites is commissioned from artists worldwide. Each suite is unique as the hotel is built from scratch. Everything in the rooms is made of ice: the beds, the sofas, the bar, etc. A source of inspiration for many, the concept has since been copied in several other places. From small intimate hotels to large establishments, ice hotels are rebuilt and refurbished every winter in Lapland. For fans of “Game of Thrones”, Lapland Hotels Group partnered with HBO Nordic in 2018 to create an ice hotel near Ylläs in Finnish Lapland that features characters from the series: Balerion, The Mountain, the Night King… all of these sculptures will give you the chills! As John Snow would say, “Winter is coming”. So if you are not afraid of cold, treat yourself to a night in an ice hotel in Lapland.
Sleeping in a ice hotel: C-Ludik’s cold room survival guide
Our first question is, what is the temperature inside an ice hotel? Since ice is a natural insulator, the temperature inside the ice hotel remains stable at around -5˚C no matter how cold it is outside. The atmosphere even appears warm – “Just an illusion / Barely a feeling” – at the Icebar…
The furniture in the rooms is carved entirely from snow and ice. The base of the beds is built of large blocks of ice protected by furs (reindeer skins), blankets, and sleeping bags designed for low temperatures. But how do you dress, how do you best use your sleeping bag, or simply how do you keep warm during the night so you don’t turn into an ice cube… these questions are probably running through your mind.
- Resistance to cold is different for each person. You’ll be the best person to know how to dress (Damart, socks, gloves and a woolen hat to keep your head covered at night). Don’t forget that your number 1 enemy is not the cold but the humidity! Therefore, avoid cotton, as it retains moisture. It is essential to cover yourself, but not too much, because you must avoid sweating during the night.
- Slide carefully into the down without letting moisture in. This is a crucial step. Fold the sleeping bag at your feet and tighten it at your neck. Leave your face outside the bag so as not to exhale into it.
- Put your cell phone in your pocket or a glove: with the cold, it will discharge very quickly.
- Finally, put your shoes inside each other so that they are neither wet nor cold the following day
A quiet and peaceful evening announces itself in this atmosphere at the end of the world. There you are, comfortably installed in your sweet cozy nest, under your heap of reindeer skins, watching the little clouds of mist and dryness that your breath draws in the cold air. Silence in the snow kingdom is total, and you soon fall into a deep sleep. Finally, after a night in a cozy comforter, the most challenging test is to get out of it to put on your cold shoes in the morning…