5 of the Coolest Ice Hotels in the World
In recent years, ice hotels have become popular attractions throughout Europe (and, in at least one case, North America) for their innovative designs and otherworldly settings. These accommodations are made almost entirely from ice and snow—from the cups guests drink out of to the beds they sleep on and the walls that surround them—and they’re attracting adventurous travelers from around the world. Many offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience that includes regional foods like reindeer and Arctic Sea salmon, artwork from locals carved in the snow and ice, and plenty of winter activities.
If you’re interested in checking out an ice hotel this winter, here’s where to stay and what to expect. Whatever you do, don’t forget to layer up!
1. Snowman World’s Igloo Hotel - Rovaniemi, Finland
If you’ve ever wanted to stay at the North Pole, a trip to Snowman World’s Igloo Hotel might be the next best thing. Based in Rovaniemi, Finland (the "official hometown of Santa Claus", the igloo hotel is part of the larger Santa Claus Village resort attraction that includes shops, restaurants, husky rides, reindeer farm tours, and more.
The hotel bills itself as the "coolest place on the Arctic Circle" and offers three room types: The Standard Igloo includes one queen bed, the Superior Igloo includes one queen bed and room for an additional bed (as well as an in-room ice sculpture), and the Family Igloo includes two full beds for the little ones. No matter the room type, all igloos offer access to shared bathrooms and include thermal sleeping bags. Don’t forget to grab your Arctic Night Survival Certificate when you check out!
Hungry? The hotel’s on-site Ice Restaurant serves a menu created from local ingredients, including reindeer tenderloin, Lappish potatoes, king crab soup, Arctic Sea salmon, and more. Your drinks (mixed behind a bar made of ice) are served in ice cups—and on tables made entirely of ice. Kids of all ages will love the surrounding ice sculptures, many of which bear the likeness of much-loved storytime characters.
If you're looking for something a bit warmer (and more luxurious), Snowman World's Glass Resort opens this winter. Each apartment includes a living area, private bedroom, glass ceiling, and private spa and sauna.
2. Kirkenes Snowhotel - Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes Snowhotel opened in 2006 and treats visitors to the kind of winter experience Christmas carols are written about.
Each of the hotel’s 20 rooms are decorated to reflect the region’s natural settings and Arctic culture—an image of Santa Claus is carved into one wall, while another room is decorated to look like a Viking ship—and lighted ice sculptures create an ethereal atmosphere.
In addition to the ice hotel rooms, you can stay in one of 10 cabins inspired by traditional winter hunting and fishing huts, most commonly found in the Sami areas of the Arctic. The huts are outfitted with air conditioning, underfloor heating, private bathrooms, panoramic windows, and lounge chairs for luxurious comfort.
Wherever you stay, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Take a guided fishing trip for king crab, watch for the northern lights, take a sled dog ride (led by some of the hotel’s 180 resident huskies), feed and pet the resident reindeer, take a snowmobile safari to see the surrounding farms and fjords, try your hand at ice fishing on a nearby frozen fjord, or take a snowshoe hike to admire the surrounding vistas.
3. Hôtel de Glace - Quebec City, Quebec
Get an ice hotel experience without crossing the Atlantic by checking into the Hôtel de Glace, which claims to be the only ice hotel in North America. Hôtel de Glace opened for seasonal service in 2001 and has been redesigned and rebuilt every year since, offering new themes annually.
Visitors can stay in one of 44 rooms and pass their day by grabbing drinks in the ice bar, touring the on-site chapel (made entirely of ice), and relaxing for a few hours in the outdoor hot tubs and sauna.
You have a few choices when deciding on a room: Basic rooms include between one and three queen beds; themed suites include artistic lighting and an in-room ice or snow sculpture; premium suites include an in-room fireplace; and the premium deluxe suites include a fireplace and private spa.
4. Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel - Alta, Norway
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel bills itself as both Norway’s largest and most northernmost ice hotel—and it promises an unforgettable experience you’ll remember long after the last snow melts next spring.
The ice hotel—where all exterior and interior features are made from snow and ice—includes roughly 30 rooms, ice sculptures created by local artists, beds covered in reindeer hides, sleeping bags that keep you warm when the temperatures drop to -13 degrees Fahrenheit, a sauna, breakfast buffet, and more.
While you’re there, grab a drink in the ice bar (where your glasses are made of ice), stop by the ice chapel (where couples get married every year), and explore the surrounding Nordic wilderness.
5. Icehotel - Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
At 27 years old, Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, is among the oldest such lodgings in the world—and it claims to be the first to be rebuilt every year. With that kind of history, it’s easy to see why Icehotel attracts 50,000 visitors every year.
Each winter, 5,000 tons of ice blocks are harvested from Sweden’s Torne River to build the hotel, which includes 50 cold rooms (made entirely of ice and snow) and 70 warm rooms (offering more conventional accommodations in heated rooms with power). More than two dozen artists then work with lighting teams to craft the hotel’s dazzling displays.
Standard rooms include ice beds covered in reindeer hides, thermal sleeping bags, ice decor, free entry to the on-site sauna, and a tour of the hotel. Guests can unwind in the Icebar, where cocktails and champagne are served in cups made of ice and the dance floor is made from snow. An art gallery space hosts ice sculptures created by artists from around the world, and nearby Arctic activities include dog sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, and ice sculpting classes. If you’re looking to splurge, each of Icehotel’s Art Suites are individually designed, meaning that each suite is brand new and has never been seen before.
If you’re looking to warm up, Icehotel offers 70 conventional rooms (with nary an ice cube to be found), as well as a full-service restaurant (with a focus on local ingredients), heated lounge, sauna, and a relaxation area that includes a fireplace and hot lingonberry juice on tap.
Originally written by RootsRated for Marmot.