When I traveled with the Inlandsbanan to Swedish Lapland this summer, I had booked another train to Kiruna and an overnight stay in the ice hotel. You are wondering what I was doing at the ICE hotel during the summer? Well, since this year, you can visit the ice hotel throughout the year.
Last spring, they took large blocks of ice of 2 tonnes from the nearby river Torne. These blocks of ice were stored in gigantic freezers during the summer months so that they could start with the sculpting in September / October. The ice hotel then opened around December and remained until it started to thaw and the ice hotel disappeared again.
The ICE hotel in Jukkasjärvi (near Kiruna) is about 200 kilometers above the polar circle and was the first ice hotel in the world. Every year, dozens of snow and ice artists begin to shape the hotel and ice bar ready in time. This temporary hotel will continue to exist in the future. And a permanent ice hotel will be added.
For this permanent building, they devised a sustainable construction. Thus, the permanent ice hotel is covered with a layer of moss. Thanks to the midnight sun, they can also get all the energy needed to keep the building constant at -5 degrees from solar panels. The ICEHOTEL 365 got 18 art suites. Every year the interior will change.
Staying at the ICEhotel
The entire interior, from bed to table and chair, is made of ice. On the bed is a mattress on which reindeer skins lies. These ensure that you do not get cold at night. Next to your ice room, you also have a warm room where you can dress and where you can leave your luggage (so that it does not freeze). There is also a heated lounge in the main building where you can sit at the fireplace in the evening. Also the showers + saunas and the toilets are in the main building.
Changing is done in a warm room in the main building. Each room has its own enclosed space with deckchairs and even a bench. You do not need any special clothes or extra layers to sleep in the ice room: a single and thin layer of thermal underwear (merino wool) is enough! You can also buy that thermal underwear on the spot. A hat and gloves can also be handy. You will also get shoes / boots from the hotel. There’s a good reason for it: if you’d leave your shoes next to your bed, in the morning they would be cold! Once you’re back in the main building, you can switch back to your own warm shoes.
Tip: Do not go to bed too early. In winter you may want to spot the northern lights, in summer you can catch a glimpse of the midnight sun (if it’s not cloudy at least). So I did not go to bed until midnight. You will receive a sleeping bag and a liner at the reception. Just take them to your room if you are going to sleep. The sleeping bag would freeze.
That sleeping bag was a serious turn off for me. My sleeping bag stank! Really, they do not wash them between the guests. You do have a liner sheet but still. I exchanged my sleeping bag for one that smelled less but the idea alone … It ruined the experience for me. In retrospect, I’d better had taken my own anti-freeze sleeping bag or put an extra scarf around my head so that the sleeping bag was further away from me and my poor nose.
In addition, I have to say that, thanks to the reindeer skin and the sleeping bag, I wasn’t feeling cold at all. Yes, in the morning my toes and my nose had a little cold, but it all worked well. I can imagine that if you’re in a sleeping bag with two persons, it’s even warmer.
Wake up call with blåbärssoppa
After some time I found a comfortable way to lie down and I turned off the light. And then the light was out and you could not see the ice sculptures anymore. Just to say how relatively it is to sleep in an ice hotel.
By eight o’clock in the morning I was awakened by the receptionist who had a cup of warm berry juice. Delicious! I took some pictures to capture the experience and hurried to the warm space. A breakfast and a sauna afterwards, I took off again.
Visiting the ice hotel
Is an overnight stay in the ice paradise too adventurous for you? Then you can also just visit the hotel and the ice bar. A ticket costs about 30 euros. Not cheap but definitely worth it! Even more, I would not stay overnight in an ice hotel again but would just go for a visit.
You can also follow a workshop on the spot where you make an ice sculpture yourself. You can also choose to stay in a warm room in Jukkasjärvi. Across the road is another restaurant where you can eat. Breakfast is also served there for those staying at the ICE hotel or in the warm rooms.
How do you reach the ICEHOTEL?
Most people may choose for the night train from Stockholm. I traveled with the Inlandsbanan to Galliväre and took the regular train to Kiruna. From here you can take both bus 501 and the ICEHOTEL shuttle bus. Please be aware of the departure times, because the 501 only drives 2 times a day. A taxi is also a possibility but know that in the remote areas the taxis are not very common. From Kiruna to Jukkasjärvi it is about 30 kilometers.
From Stockholm there are flights to Kiruna. The flight takes one and a half hours. Kiruna Airport is 15 km from the ice hotel. From February 2018, direct charter flights from the Netherlands are possible.
Is an overnight stay at the ice hotel on your bucket list? Or have you slept there and you want to share your story? Don’t hesitate to comment below!