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A Unique Christmas Experience – Sweden’s ICE Hotel

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Ice hotel

If you are looking for something new and exciting this Christmas, then you should consider a stay at the ICE Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. 200KMs above the Arctic Circle, this hotel receives 50,000 visitors a year with 35,000 overnight stays and is only open from December until April. So, what makes it so special? It is constructed of ice and snow. Each year, ice is harvested from the Torne River in March and April which is then kept in cold storage until November when construction begins. The hotel has both warm and cold rooms.

Most guests who stay at the hotel, only spend a single night in a cold room and the rest of their stay in a warm one. Warm rooms have an ‘Alpine’ look and guests can participate in activities like watching the Northern Lights, white water rafting and hiking. However, it is the cold rooms that really set the hotel apart from anywhere else in the world and make it so popular. They are made entirely of ice and snow and are kept at a temperate of -5º constantly. Basic ‘Snow Rooms’ are simple, but very cold, while the extraordinary ‘Art Suites’ are individually scuplted by artists and craftspeople from around the world. They feature designs representing the universe before the Big Bang, pole dancing polar bears, ice origami, rooftops, Frankenstein’s laboratory and the London Underground.

Underground Room

There are also ‘Northern Lights suites’ that feature light art representing the aurora projected onto the ceilings and the ‘Deluxe suite’ has its own bathroom and sauna. Other than this suite, there is no plumbing or storage areas in the ICE Hotel. Therefore, a separate building is used to check in guests and house toilet and shower facilities. In addition, it has a warm lounge with a roaring fire and warm lingonberry juice on tap. When guests arrive, they are given a ‘survival guide’ on how to make their bed and dress appropriately to sleep in a cold room without freezing to death.

Dragon Den

Other than those amazing rooms, the ICE Hotel also houses the famous ICE Bar. Here guests can sip cocktails out of ice glasses and sit on ice furniture. The bar is redesigned each year by different international artists, architects and craftspeople as are the versions of it in Stockholm and London which stay open all year round.

Ice Bar

The idea for the ICE Hotel came about when a man who ran activity holidays in Jukkasjärvi in the summer, Yngve Berqvist, wanted something to attract guests in the winter. He built a large igloo with a bar in that housed art exhibitions and film screenings and, when some guests stayed the night in the igloo and found it to be a fascinating experience, the hotel concept was born. It is built each year using 1,000 tons of ice from the Torne River and 30,000 tons of ‘snice’ (a material which combines ice and snow with the insulating qualities of snow and the strength of ice). Ice from the Torne is notoriously clear and pure so is used, not only in the ICE Hotel, but is also in London and Stockholm to create the ICE Bars.

Although the idea of the ICE Hotel seems strange and rather uncomfortable, it is incredibly popular and has been open now for 25 years. It opens its doors again on 12th December and is already booked up completely over Christmas. Rooms are still available later in the season for anyone who wants to experience this unique hotel this year but you will have to get in there early if you want to spend Christmas 2015 on ice.

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