There are two options when winter arrives: hunker down where it’s warm or head out and make the most of the snow. Ice hotels are some of the most extreme places to experience the drop in temperature, reserved only for those who want to commit wholeheartedly to the frosty weather.
Here are six of the best, which offer everything from mountain chapels carved from ice to outdoor spas, snowshoe expeditions and frozen flora.
Icehotel 365 in Swedish Lapland
Sweden’s Icehotel celebrates its 31st birthday this year, bringing 32 artists from around the world to design its rooms in Jukkasjärvi, 200km north of the Arctic Circle. This year’s stand out suite is by designers Carl Philip Bernadotte and Oscar Kylberg, who have evoked the spirit of Midsummer via frozen Swedish flora, including native flowers and mosses suspended in clear glass. The ethereal room, dubbed A Midsummer’s Night Dream, was created in collaboration with the Icehotel 365 creative team and florist Per Benjamin and will remain in situ permanently.
Says the duo:’ For us Swedes, midsummer, and especially midsummer’s night, is filled with myth and legend. The Scandinavian nature that surrounds us flowers and ice plays a huge part in our cultural upbringing and has a bearing on who we are as Nordic people as Scandinavians.’ In total, the hotel uses 2,500 tonnes of ice – which is returned to the Torne river every summer when it melts. Previous years featured giant lollipops and a campsite recreated from snow – including a VW camper.
Icehotel 365 opened its permanent ice hotel back in December 2016, which comprises a 20-suite hotel, gallery and bar built from 30,000 litres. More than 40 creatives from around the world crafted its rooms, including British architecture practice Atmos Studio, Dutch artist Marjolein Vonk and Italian artist Maurizio Perron. Bernadotte + Kylberg are the latest addition.
Hotel de Glace in Quebec, Canada
Rooms drop down to a chilly -5°C at this Quebec hotel – which is celebrating its 20th year. Hotel de Glace is the only ice hotel in North America and is located a 20-minute drive from Quebec City. As well as the expected ice bar, there’s also a sauna and outdoor Nordic spa, which promises to be a bracing experience. The ice hotel is built around a different theme each year, with winter 2022’s theme still to be announced. However, rooms usually have a Nordic slant, and each is furnished with its own stove and warm furs.
From $399 CAD per night
Hotel of Ice, Romania
Romania’s Hotel of Ice has been rebuilt each year since 2005 using snow and ice taken from a glacial lake in the Făgăraș mountains. Each ice block weighs up to 70 lbs and is used to build everything from the walls of the hotel to the beds guests stay in. As well as a chilly sleepover – there are animal furs in every room for guests that feel the cold – the Hotel of Ice offers an unusual spot for worship. As well as the hotel, a snowy chapel is constructed each year in the mountains – complete with icy altar and pews. Each winter the spot is blessed by local priests.
From 500 RON per night
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Norway
The ‘northernmost ice hotel in the world’, Sorrisniva is located on the banks of Norway’s Alta River. The ice hotel takes around five weeks to construct, with an army of local workers and artists stacking ice bricks and shaping sculptures. As with other ice hotels, Sorrisniva adopts a different theme each year, often taking inspiration from Nordic legends and history. The restaurant is a selling point for this stay, serving up seasonal meals made from local ingredients including fish from the Alta fjord.
Snowvillage, Finnish Lapland
The ski and snowmobile trails aren’t far away at this Lapland hotel, built every year using 20 million kilos of snow. The theme of the hotel changes every year, with previous iterations including a Game of Thrones-themed inn. Its artists have a touch for the dramatic with other versions featuring superheroes with glowing eyes, giant faces that loom over beds and Roman soldiers standing guard. If one night feels like enough, guests can then relocate to the hotel’s wooden cabins. There’s no shortage of things to do either, with husky, snowmobile and reindeer safaris all on offer as well as ice sculpting classes for those that feel inspired.
From €235 per night
Tromsø Ice Domes, Norway
Located in Norway’s Tamok Valley, the Tromsø Ice Domes offer a small number of rooms to stay in, as well as a bar, restaurant and cinema. A stay at the hotel means a full day, with a snowshoe trek to spy the northern lights and an outdoor dinner cooked over the fire before bedtime. After a traditional Norwegian breakfast, guests head out on a dog sledging tour. The hotel’s artists have focused on depicting the local Arctic flora and fauna, with the restaurant surrounded by icy trees and rooms carved with oversized reindeer.
NOK 12,500 per room per night