Asaf Kliger/Icehotel

Enjoy a freezing-cold welcome at the gorgeous and intricately carved Icehotel.

Sculpting ice isn’t something that Swedes take lightly. In Jukkasjärvi, a village a few miles east of Kiruna, the proprietors of one hotel begin planning for a winter ice festival in March. That’s when they begin collecting some 5,000 tons of ice from the River Torne in order to prepare the Icehotel, the world’s coolest place to stay.

Each year, the Icehotel selects artists and architects from around the world to design ice rooms and snow rooms, which guests can book for a stay like any other hotel room. This Swedish frotel is unlike any other inn, mind you: Rooms drop to temperatures of 23 degrees Fahrenheit—that’s right, below freezing, what with the entire room being made of ice and all.

While only the bed frames are carved out of rock ice (not the mattresses), guests are still given sleeping bags and guide books for enduring the cold, plus a diploma and a cup of hot lingonberry juice for surviving the night. “The most important aspect is to keep your feet and head warm, so woolly socks and a hat is crucial,” the Icehotel website reads.

The “Flying Buttress” suite, an arcuated cold room designed by AnnaKatrin Kraus and Hans Aescht. (Asaf Kliger/Icehotel)

The Icehotel features warm rooms, too, and many of the hotel packages mix one night in the cold with one or more nights in a traditional suite. Glamping is an option, too. But the cold rooms are designed with more than sadism in mind: All 19 of the suites are ice installations built by teams of artists and architects.

One of them includes a chandelier featuring a thousand ice crystals carved by hand; another room features a 10-foot ice sculpture of an African elephant. There’s a fractal-geometry suite, a 1920s-horror-film suite, and a sultry-sexy suite (an ambitious idea given that the thermostat peaks at -5 degrees Celsius). The Icehotel even opens an Ice Church on December 25.

“Couples from all over the world come to Jukkasjärvi to promise each other eternal fidelity,” the site explains. “Children from near and far are baptized here.”

Options for overnight stay include snow rooms, ice rooms, art suites, and the Northern Lights room, all of which range from about $300 to $900 per night. But the deluxe suite’s the only way to go. These rooms come with a critical amenity: heated ensuite bathrooms and saunas. That plus room service from the Icebar might make a frotel stay OK.

This edition of Icebar by Icehotel, called “Booom!,” was designed by Maurizio Perron, Viktor Tsarski, and Wouter Biegelaar. (Ben Nilsson/Icehotel)
Drinks at the Icebar are served in ice-crystal tumblers. (Leif Milling/Icehotel)
Petros Dermatas and Ellie Souti designed the “Cesare’s Wake” suite after a silent horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). (Asaf Kliger/Icehotel)
The work of Nicolas Triboulot and Cédric Alizard, “Eye Suite” celebrates the crystalline nature of ice. (Asaf Kliger/Icehotel)
Bazarsad Bayarsaikhan carves the “Dragon’s Nest” room. (Paulina Holmgren/Icehotel)
David Andrén and Tsaja Gusfors carved a giant peacock for “Show Me What You Got.” (Asaf Kliger/Icehotel)
Luc Voisin and Mathieu Brison captured a retro look for “Love Capsule.” (Asaf Kliger/Icehotel)
AnnaSofia Maag carved a 10-foot ice mammoth for “Elephant in the Room.” (Asaf Kliger/Icehotel)
Sebastian Scheller and Kristina Möckel designed “The Power of Love” suite complete with ice pistons. (Asaf Kliger/Icehotel)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    The Death and Life of the 13-Month Calendar

    Favored by leaders in transportation and logistics, the International Fixed Calendar was a favorite of Kodak founder George Eastman, whose company used it until 1989.

  2. a map of future climate risks in the U.S.
    Maps

    America After Climate Change, Mapped

    With “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for A Green New Deal,” the McHarg Center tries to visualize how the warming world will reshape the United States.

  3. photo: a commuter looks at a small map of the London Tube in 2009
    Maps

    Help! The London Tube Map Is Out of Control.

    It’s never been easy to design a map of the city’s underground transit network. But soon, critics say, legibility concerns will demand a new look.

  4. photo: A man boards a bus in Kansas City, Missouri.
    Transportation

    Why Kansas City’s Free Transit Experiment Matters

    The Missouri city is the first major one in the U.S. to offer no-cost public transportation. Will a boost in subsidized mobility pay off with economic benefits?

  5. Transportation

    How Media Coverage of Car Crashes Downplays the Role of Drivers

    Safety advocates have long complained that media outlets tend to blame pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by cars. Research suggests they’re right.

×