Have you ever dreamed of staying in an ice palace? Though it sounds like something from a fairytale, a hotel made of ice isn't for the faint of heart. Shelve your sunnies and beach towel — this is the perfect vacation for someone who loves the idea of a winter wonderland. Craft ice cubes are everywhere now, but chipping some off of the hotel room wall? That's a whole other story.
While Inuits have cornered the market on ice abodes for hundreds of years, it's a concept that is gaining popularity in the hospitality industry. During the day, ice hotels offer an array of activities, from ice skating on Romania's Lake Balea to adventuresome excursions like catching King crab with Norwegian fisherman at the Kirkenes Snowhotel.
Often set in remote northern locations, ice hotels invariably have dramatic settings, providing an ideal backdrop for watching the Northern Lights. One hotel in Sweden's Lapland makes the most of their geography by inviting artists to sculpt the hotel anew each year, each design inspired by the surrounding nature.
While the thought of sleeping in a room that averages 23-27 degrees may scare off some travelers, ice hotels ensure that guests don't get hypothermia. At the Igloo Village in Switzerland, you are greeted with mugs of hot mulled wine upon arrival and can warm your belly with a meal of cheese fondue.
Most hotels also feature a sauna or whirlpool, which they recommend visiting before retiring for the evening, and a heated area where guests can change. And while you might be sleeping on a bed of ice, curling up in a below-zero sleeping bag atop a lambskin-covered mattress will keep you warm and cozy. Even if you shiver at the thought, a stay at an ice hotel — with only five in the world — is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.