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Ice hotels exist in some of the coldest places on earth and offer ultra-unique accommodations that are strategically built year after year. With mounds of snow and blocks of ice, creative architects and designers have made the concept of sleeping in a block of ice comfortable, cozy, and inviting. Clever amenities like saunas, cocktail bars, and ice-molded dinnerware definitely give guests something to talk about after their trip, as well as the chance to enjoy winter activities and view the Northern Lights.
Here are some of the most incredible ice hotels around the world to entice your imagination and make you think about winter accommodations a bit differently.
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Icehotel in Sweden is one of the best-known hotels of its kind in the world. You’ll need to hop on a snowmobile or dogsled to reach the hotel, and this is just the beginning of your great adventure. One popular activity here is to take a horseback tour to view the Northern Lights. To keep you warm, the ice block beds are covered in reindeer hides and thermal sleeping bags. There are warm and cold rooms here, and the hotel recommends that you book one cold night and a couple of warm nights. Winter rooms are available between December and April. The Icehotel restaurant serves fine gourmet foods, the Jukkasjarvi Homestead offers traditional foods in a rustic environment, and there’s also the Icebar and lounge for cocktails. If you can’t stay overnight, you can visit for the day and take a tour.
Travel to the Romanian Carpathians to visit this ice hotel, which is incredibly stunning. Winter is a magical time that’s marked by lovely snow-covered peaks along a glacial lake. Each season brings a new story to the ice hotel’s architecture and design. The rooms in the hotel are completely made of ice, and there are also three igloos nearby for extra privacy. There’s also an ice church here where you can host a wedding or just enjoy some peaceful time for prayer and reflection. Guests have plenty of activities at the hotel’s Winterpark to keep busy too, such as snowmobiling, snowboarding, ice skating, and skiing.
This classy ice hotel welcomes guests to its ice rooms and also to a traditional Sampi tent called a lavvo. This hotel is the largest of its kind in Norway (about 2,500-square-meters in size) and located about 25 minutes from the Alta airport in Sorrisniva. There’s a wonderful sauna here to take a dip after cold days outside exploring the Alta region. And one of the best activities to do around Alta is to take a snowmobile tour into the mountains. But this is also an ideal place to stay if you’re seeking peace and serenity. You can also just visit the igloo hotel for the day if you can’t stay overnight.
Although most of the ice hotels are located in Europe, here’s a Canadian one worth visiting in Quebec City. Hotel de Glace has some beautiful snow art, and ice couches and tables paired with warm and cozy blankets. Take your pick from regular rooms, themed suites, and premium suites with fireplaces and even a private spa. If you’re interested in how ice hotels are made, take the hotel’s behind the scenes tour to learn about the construction and upkeep. Another fun activity is to learn how to create your own cocktail glass made of ice. The hotel is conveniently located just a few minutes away from downtown, so you can easily combine this stay with city sightseeing. Also nearby, you can check out the snow slides at Winter Playground, the indoor waterpark, arcade games for kids, and go on a dog sledding excursion.
Whether you’re traveling as a couple or a family of six, Iglu-Dorf Gstaad is a fun and inviting place to stay in Bernese Oberland. You can choose to spend your time here at a multi-bedroom standard igloo, a romantic igloo, or a warm and toasty hot igloo. It’s well-suited for families, couples, and even business travel. Guests here love to take part in the snowshoeing sessions, either during the day or at night. The igloo restaurant specializes in fondue and other fun treats, and you can book fondue and appetizer packages at a per-person rate. Around 10,000 guests stay in the Igloo Village each year, and many more come to visit for the day.
Even if you’ve visited SnowCastle of Kemi in the past, it’s worth another visit because the architectural style changes every year. The temperature inside the rooms here is always around -5 degrees Celsius, but lambskin covers, fleece sheets, and sleeping bags rated for Arctic conditions make it surprisingly cozy. The SnowHotel, which can hold up to 48 overnight guests, is part of the SnowCastle that’s built each year in Kemi. When you stay in the hotel, you also receive breakfast and a visit to the SnowCastle. There’s a restaurant onsite that serves local specialties, like reindeer. This is also a popular place for honeymoons and even weddings, which take place in the SnowChapel.
Schneedorf’s classic igloos accommodate four people each with two double beds and are the perfect mix of luxury and adventure. Overnight stays also include a welcome drink of tea or mulled wine, dinner, a continental breakfast buffet, and sleeping bag gear. Learn more about how ice structures are made by attending an igloo construction workshop or check out the adventurous outdoor course amidst Ötz valley mountain scenery at the High Wire Garden.
Snowhotel Kirkenes stands out because of its beautiful ice and snow sculptures and all the outdoor activities it offers. It opened to guests in 2006 and highlights Norway’s beautiful landscapes. Some of the most popular activities to choose from include cross-country skiing, a dog sled tour, Northern Lights tour, and an arctic king crab fishing tour. This is also a great hotel for foodies because the onsite restaurant serves locally-sourced dishes. Kirkenes has an extended winter season that sometimes extends through May.
Another unique accommodation in Finland is called the SnowVillage. About 20 million kilos of snow and 350,000 kilos of ice are used to create the village each year. There’s a snow hotel with rooms and suites, an ice chapel, log cabins, and even a three-story log castle. It’s in Finnish Lapland and features many colorful and illuminated snow tunnels that lead to the restaurant, bar, rooms, and ice sculptures. A highlight for overnight guests is the underground sauna. In the morning you’ll wake up to hot berry juice and a breakfast buffet in the log cabin restaurant. The Ice Restaurant offers guests a delicious three-course dinner. There’s also an ice chapel and a wooden chapel here that are perfect for weddings.
Eskimska Vas – Slovenia
This is an Eskimo village in Slovenia that you can reach by cable car or hike to on snowshoes. The igloos in this hotel are cozy and feature ice block beds with plenty of warm blankets. There’s a restaurant that serves traditional Slovenian foods and an igloo bar to relax in. This is a great place to stay for outdoor adventure lovers because you can play around with snow bikes, tubes, and sleds in the snow while you’re here.
An ice hotel in France may surprise some people, but there’s a lovely one in Avoriaz that features carved ice walls and ultra-warm sleeping bags for guests. Other hotel highlights are the snow and ice sculptures and the bar with its sunny terrace. This hotel has two igloo rooms decorated with cozy furnishings, and it can accommodate up to eight guests per night. Make sure to join the hotel’s “snowshoeing under the stars” experience with a mountain guide. You can choose a course that’s easy, moderate, or difficult. The best local dish to try here is the traditional cheese fondue.