The World’s Coolest Ice Hotels
There’s nothing like curling up in bed on a cold day with a pile of cozy blankets pulled up to your neck. Doing that in a hotel crafted out of blocks of ice and snow somewhere in the northern wilds? Now that’s hygge to the extreme. And with several ice hotels around the world, mostly clustered in Scandinavia, those frozen dreams aren’t that far off. Whether you’re looking for a Game of Thrones-inspired stay or an outdoor ice bath, the world is full of some very, very cool ice hotels with amazing amenities.
The original ice hotel, first built in 1989, can be found in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, which is located even farther north of the Arctic Circle and crafted each year by artists. Visitors arrive in Kiruna via Stockholm and then head to the hotel. It’s recommended to stay only one or two nights in one of the icy cold rooms, then the rest in a warm hotel room or cabin (although, don’t worry: the hotel provides super-warm sleeping bags when you stay in an ice room). It’s not just about lying around on the ice, either; the hotel offers a variety of cold weather activities like dogsledding, skiing and northern lights safaris.
Norway is home to the popular Snowhotel Kirkenes, which opens for the winter in January. Technically, it’s a snow hotel rather than an ice hotel, but that won’t matter when you’re bunked up in one of the 20 rooms that are based on a different Nordic theme. The hotel welcomes couples and families and features a restaurant called Låven, as well as an ice bar. While you’re there, enjoy ice fishing, a snowmobile safari or scour the skies for the northern lights. If you get too cold, don’t worry: Visitors can also book the slightly warmer Gamme Cabins for their stay.
Lapland Hotels SnowVillage
Game of Thrones fans should head above the Arctic Circle to Lapland Hotels SnowVillage, which is based on the stories and characters of the HBO drama and opens for the second time, in 2019. Sleep on a bed of ice or sit on a replica of the iron throne during your stay, then choose from either an ice restaurant or a warm restaurant for dining. Take shots at the bar from glasses made of ice after you’re done trekking through the wilderness on a husky safari. There’s also skiing, snowshoeing and ice sculpting classes (presumably so you can build your own hotel next year).
Ice Hotel Tomamu
Open only in January and February, Ice Hotel Tomamu is Japan’s most famous ice hotel. Located in Shimukappu-mura as part of Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, the hotel includes an ice village, an “Outdoor Ice Bath” and an ice lounge. The stay features breakfast and a very warm sleeping bag and pajamas, and is available only to guests already staying in the resort’s The Tower or Risonare Tomamu. Be sure to book way in advance, especially if you want to spend a cold evening relaxing in the hotel’s ice bath, which has amazing views of the surrounding forest.
Spending a night in an igloo has never been as comfortable as it is at Sorrisniva’s Igloo Hotel. The hotel, located in Norway, has been around since 1999 and now includes 26 bedrooms and four suites. There’s also an ice chapel for engaged couples and an ice bar for those looking to meet their special someone. Indulge in a morning sauna and breakfast after your sleep, or enjoy the outdoor Jacuzzi. The hotel is open through April, giving guests lots of time to jet north. Go dogsledding, ice fishing or make friends with the local reindeer during your stay.
Kemi’s SnowCastle, in Kemi, Finland, has been built every year since 1996 using snow and ice, and in 2019 it’s open from January through April. The Castle includes the SnowHotel, where you’ll spend the night, as well as the IceBar and SnowRestaurant. In the SnowHotel, your ice bed features a sleeping bag and lambskin cover to keep out the cold, and there are several room types to pick from (go with the a suite if you want to splurge). Guests can also elect to stay in the Seaside Glass Villas, which offer views of the northern lights through the clear roofs. Be sure to book a Hovercraft ride, which soars over the frozen sea, while up north.
Hunderfossen Snow Hotel
The Hunderfossen Snow Hotel claims itself as Scandinavia’s southernmost snow hotel, but that won’t take away from the marvel of its frozen bedrooms, Ice Cathedral and Ice Bar. Located in Norway, the hotel is part of the Hunderfossen Familiepark and opens to visitors in February of 2019. It’s ideal for families since the park is themed with a Troll Forest and Fairy-Tale Castle, and features sleigh rides, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling for guests of all ages. The ice bar serves up its drinks in glasses made of ice, a delight for adults and kids (who can enjoy a delicious non-alcoholic cider).