We love quirky hotels. Whether under the sea, hidden in desert sand dunes, suspended amidst tropical jungle or, as in the Icehotel’s case, cut and sculpted out of Arctic ice. The stranger and more surreal the better.
As Caroline Findlay de Concha, my long standing Nomadic Thoughts colleague, said on returning from staying in Sweden’s Icehotel this week, ‘It’s like living in an enormous frozen art house. Fabulous, fanciful and freezing’.
Fabulous as each year an excited collection of artists from around the world descends on the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi (200kms north of the Arctic Circle), to participate in creating a fresh body of artistic works that will eventually be exhibited in the form of the Icehotel.
Fanciful as the forty selected artists – chosen for the originality of their proposed art-to-ice ideas – ultimately create a gigantic selection of ice sculptures that not only protect guests from the winter elements, but also allow visitors to experience a temporary one-off collection of original art sculptures. With the advent of Spring, they melt and flow away.
Freezing as every room, lobby, hallway, staircase and all important Ice Bar constantly remain at -5° to -8°. As if plucked out of Narnia, each bedroom suite carries its own hand-carved theme, with stunning ice sculptures and snow-art patterns. These are enhanced by a myriad of luminous colours, twisting shapes and ice-thick displays.
As all of these photos show, Caroline’s winter wonderland visit (which also included swirling northern lights, sleigh-rides, cross-country skiing, snowmobiles, and ice-surrounded spas) highlights a quite amazing variety of Icehotel art house creations. And all this to a backdrop of furry bedspreads and funky illuminations. Staying overnight in the Icehotel’s thermal sleeping bags, as well as your own thermal underwear, there is no reason why you should not enjoy one of your best night’s sleeps.
As many a previous Nomadic Thoughts client has discovered, and Caroline confirms, the experience is ‘thrilling and truly memorable’. Albeit with the measured advice that you do want to make it as ‘pee-free’ as possible, as the toilets and showers are located a considerable ice shuffle away in the distant warmer section of the hotel.
If you are looking for a winter escape like no other, we recommend booking well in advance. Arctic activities, including dog-sledging, cross-country skiing, ice-fishing, ice sculpting, snowmobile safaris, photo tours and the aurora borealis await.
Equally you might like to get married in the Ice Church, explore the ever-changing Torne River, learn about the local music scene or attack your travel partners with an inexhaustible supply of snowballs.