When temperatures start to drop at home, the last place most travelers would think to go is somewhere even colder. But these novel hotels, made almost entirely of ice, are an experience unto themselves, if only for the opportunity to sleep on icy beds covered in soft animal skins. Set in naturally frosty climates, these ice hotels are carved into igloo shapes and come complete with luxe icicle-lined dining rooms, frequently filled bars, and even themed suites with decorative accents carved into the icy walls.
It will come as no surprise to find that these eight ice hotels are based in Scandinavia, Romania, Switzerland, Canada, and Alaska — places where it even seems cold in the summer. They all offer unique wintry activities like tours of ice factories, the chance to get married in on-site ice churches, steaming hot springs with icy water banks, ice fishing, and dog sledding. And once you prepare to dress for and sleep in frozen temperatures, resting your head under the Northern Lights in Norway, Sweden, or Alaska is a magical experience.
One of the most famous ice hotels in the world is Sweden’s ICEHOTEL, which never exists exactly as it did the year before; when the weather warms up each year, the ICEHOTEL becomes a flowing river. All activities and meals revolve around the frigid surroundings — snowmobiling, skiing, ice fishing, and hunting are followed by dinners of classic Nordic dishes served on plates made from ice from the Torne River. Canada’s Hôtel de Glace, just 10 minutes from Quebec City, likewise gets redesigned from new ice and snow each year, featuring themed suites (some even with fireplaces), outdoor saunas and spas, a chapel carved into the ice for weddings, artist-designed ice sculptures, and the Ice Bar with an outdoor courtyard for extra-chilly imbibing.
Whether you go for the day or choose to spend the night amidst heaps of snow and ice carved into the familiar shapes of a luxury hotel, these slowly melting structures are totally unique, year after year. Your chilled vodka will warm those shivering bones before you tuck into bed beneath cozy reindeer skins. How often can you say that? Just don’t lick the walls.