13 Cool Ice Hotels and Restaurants (Slideshow)
December 5, 2013
Dress warm and visit one of these 13 frosty destinations, from ice bars to ice hotel rooms, for a (literally) cool experience.
Hôtel de Glace — Canada
This venue is just 10 minutes from downtown Québec City, but feels like you’re in the middle of a magical, crystalline world. Reformatted each year with a new theme, the direction of the hotel’s 2014 campaign (running from Jan. 5 to March 23) will be announced later this month. Regular rooms have one, two, or three queen-size beds, while themed suites up the ambiance with sculptures and artful utilization of space. Guests going all-out can opt for a premium suite with a private spa and/or fireplace (which apparently won’t turn your sleeping quarters into a pond).
Minus5 Ice Bar — New York City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla. (coming soon)
With two locations in Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay and the Monte Carlo) and one inside the Hilton in Midtown Manhattan, Minus5 is setting the bar for ice bars in America. With an ice sculptor on staff, the décor is continually being updated. And there’s plenty to work on, with everything from the walls and glasses to the bar itself being constructed from ice.
Kirkenes Snowhotel — Norway
Open from Dec. 20 through April 20, this hotel is built according to calculations made by a Finnish professor of snow-building, and is erected by covering a giant balloon and wooden molds with meters of snow (both natural and made by snow-machines) and then removing the molds. Temperatures stay at a consistent -5 degrees Celsius (even if it’s -30 degrees outside, as snow acts as insulation), rooms are spacious and come decorated with ornate ice sculptures, and beds are made of plush mattresses surrounded by blocks of ice. Hit up the ice bar for the best vodka-drinking experience imaginable.
ICEHOTEL and ICEBAR — Sweden
Located in the tiny town of Jukkasjärvi, about 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle, ICEHOTEL is the original one of its kind. It takes about 100 people each year to construct the 5,500-square-meter area (which is made of ice from the Torne River), half of them being artists and light designers called upon to give the hotel its signature ornate designs. For a remarkable night of revelry, hit up ICEBAR for cocktails served in glasses made of ice and a dance floor made of snow.
Hotel of Ice — Romania
Every room is sculpted in unique fashion at this Romanian retreat on Balea Lake in the Carpathian Mountains, where temperatures are kept plus or minus a few degrees of freezing (yet guests still get a luxurious night’s rest). Beds carved out of ice blocks are made comfortable with an insulating layer of reindeer fur topped with a cushy mattress, and to make the décor more surreal, the ice platform is studded with different colored lights, which should cause the mood to shift toward steamy (let’s hope you don’t melt the room). On premises is an ice bar, ice restaurant, and ice chapel if you feel like having a wedding whiter than Billy Idol ever imagined.
Pommery Ice Restaurant — Canada
Montreal, Quebec’s Pommery Ice Restaurant at Snow Village Canada is the first of its kind in North America, combining a gourmet eating experience with extravagant ice and snow sculptures and architecture. Chef Matthieu Saunier’s dishes, like Jerusalem artichoke and cauliflower cream soup with stewed wild boar and fried artichoke ravioli; maplewood smokehouse sea trout tartare with blinis, yuzu, and tobiko mayo; and Cornish game hen stuffed with morels, make the edible experience just as enthralling as the visuals.
Amarula Ice Restaurant — Canada
Located in Centropolis Laval, a short drive west of Montreal, Quebec, this is the second ice restaurant from the Snow Village Canada team that brought you Pommery Ice Restaurant. Helmed by chef Eric Gonzalez (of the Auberge Saint-Gabriel), the kitchen puts out plates like salmon gravlax with pomegranate and clementine, duck leg confit cassoulet style, and black chocolate cake with ginger-marinated pears and salted butter caramel, the latter of which pairs well with the restaurant’s namesake cream liqueur.
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel — Norway
Re-opening Jan. 6, 2014, with a brand-new layout, this ice hotel on the Alta River (12 miles from the city of Alta in Sorrisniva) is known for providing adventurous expeditions like dogsledding and snow safaris. An ice chapel offers couple the chance to tie the knot in stunning surroundings, with the chance for an aurora borealis nightcap. Direct flights are offered from London to Alta to accommodate the upcoming season.
Hotel Kakslauttanen’s Igloo Village — Finland
Opening in December or January and running through April each year, Hotel Kakslauttanen’s Igloo Village offers guest the opportunity to sleep in the comfortable silence of a snow igloo (20 glass igloos and one special glass kota [similar to a teepee] are also available). If you’re equipped with wool socks and a hood, along with a super-warm sleeping bag that can withstand temperatures up to -32 degrees Celsius (all of which are provided), the hotel promises you’ll never feel cold. The on-premises Ice Gallery is a must-see, with ice and snow sculptures from international artists (and you can even take a lesson to test your sculpting skills).
Chillout — U.A.E.
Dubai is known for doing everything in lavish fashion, so of course the city would have an extraordinary ice lounge — the first of its kind in the Middle East. The ambiance is opulent and modern, combining ice, glass, and steel architecture with blue, red, and purple lighting to give guests an arctic experience amid the desert heat. Designer parkas, shoes, and gloves are provided along with a mocktail when you enter (there’s a $17 cover), and the website advises staying inside in increments of 40 minutes.
Iglu-Dorf — Switzerland, Germany, Andorra
Last year, Iglu-Dorf operated six igloo villages across three countries, and they’ll be at in again this season (starting around Christmas and running through mid-April). Standard igloos come with six beds, while romantic igloos offer a more intimate experience. Mulled wine and cheese fondue are included, and public whirlpool and sauna (the latter at Davos and Gstaad locations only) add to the amenities. Perhaps most unbelievable, Iglu-Dorf now has a heated igloo that comes with a wood stove and is decorated with sheepskins.
SnowHotel (at Snow Village) — Finland
Changing size and shape each winter, the Snow Village spans more than 60,000 square feet and has plenty of arctic activities for adventurous travelers to indulge in. Try your hand at dogsledding with blue-eyed huskies or visit a reindeer farm to get a feel for the Lapland locals. The IceBar restaurant serves traditional Lappish treats in bowls carved from ice, and the mood is set by ambient lights and candles. Suites amp up the artwork and lighting compared to standard rooms, and fleece-lined sleeping bags in each make reaching slumberland as easy as a chilled breeze. When you wake up, you’ll be treated to hot berry juice (a local favorite), and to commemorate your boldness, you’ll be awarded a diploma recognizing your overnight stay in an igloo.
The SnowCastle of Kemi — Finland
The SnowCastle boasts the SnowHotel, which is perfect for singles, couples with or without children, and larger groups. The air is kept at -5 degrees Celsius within the hotel, which helps guests to have a soothing, dream-filled night of sleep. 2014 will mark the hotel’s 19th incarnation, and it will be open from Jan. 26 through April 6. Make sure to experience the SnowTube slide, as well as other activities like cross-country skiing (in the sun), ice fishing, and snow golf.