It might not sound like the best way to spend your vacation, but if you're heading north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden you can stay the night in the Ice Hotel. The Ice Hotel is exactly what it sounds like: it's a hotel made completely of ice, and it is not as cold of an experience as one might think.
You can come to the ice hotel via bus, but it is more common to take a snowmobile or a dog sled to begin your journey.
And once you arrive you should get ready to sleep on a block of ice like a modern-day Eskimo. It may not sound appealing to everyone, but that’s exactly what happens here — albeit with a few modern conveniences. When you come to the Ice Hotel you actually can put your belongings in the "warm building," which is also an area where you can change and use the restroom.
But the hotel itself is fully made of ice. Every year 2,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of "snice" — a mixture of snow and ice — are harvested from the Torne River in order to rebuild the hotel as new entity, starting every November. New artists are recruited annually and the design of the hotel is entirely different every year. The initial art when you walk in is part of the grand entrance hall. Then, each of the suites is decorated by a different artist with their own designs and influences. During the day these rooms are open to the public as an art exhibition but at nights they are truly hotel rooms — guests sleep in a sleeping bag on top of reindeer skin and enjoy the night in freezing temperatures.
There are respites from the cold; beyond the initial "warm building," the restaurant is also warm. It is housed in a timber building from 1768 and boasts a menu that reflects the surroundings. Most of the meal is served on ice blocks, including items like cold local fish ceviches or ice creams made with local cloudberries. But the warm meal also is dictated by the area, including a fillet of reindeer.
And while you might be eating in a warm room, you can drink surrounded by ice at the hotel’s famous Ice Bar.
This is where you can truly take in the Ice Hotel, beyond just cold nights — decked out in their warm Ice Hotel snow pants, jackets, and hats, patrons can drink from ice glasses and sit on ice chairs while enjoying the music and the Absolut cocktail concoctions.
It’s a cold way to spend a night — but it’s an experience that will be hard to forget!