If you are looking for an awesome adventure this winter to embrace the cold instead of escaping it, why not book a stay in an igloo for a night in one of the coldest climes on earth? Since the first ice hotel popped up in northern Sweden 27 years ago, its concept has been copied in several other winter destinations. The idea is always the same: structures ranging from intimate hotels to huge villages and even castles are rebuilt (and redesigned) each winter, mixing tons of snow and ice blocks with delightful amenities and unique designs. I hereby share with you the 10 coolest ice and snow hotels around the globe that will provide a memory for a lifetime.
10. SORRISNIVA IGLOO HOTEL, ALTA, NORWAY
Since 1999, a new ice hotel is yearly built in Norway’s Sorrisniva, a settlement located on the banks of the Alta River. The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel was the first one of its kind in Norway and the second in the world to make a hotel entirely of snow and ice, and to day remains Europe’s largest and the world’s northernmost ice hote! The property started with six bedrooms but has grown since then to be a hotel with 26 bedrooms, 4 decorated suites, an ice chapel, ice bar and a lot of art work. The shapes of the hotel are made step by step, and all together it takes about five weeks of hard work to get it all ready. Guests stay in one of the igloo’s decorated ice rooms or sleep under the stars in a ‘lavvo’ (a teepee-like tent of the Sapmi people of Norway).
Hotel website: Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
9. SNOWCASTLE, KEMI, FINLAND
Pure white snow walls surround the gigantic SnowCastle, which is built entirely out of snow and ice, both made of sea water. Located right by the frozen sea near Kemi city centre, the castle offers a true Arctic adventure from the end of January until mid-April. The world’s largest snow restaurant seats around 200 guests around its glistening ice tables. The hotel’s snow chapel with its mystical atmosphere is a memorable venue for wedding ceremonies. The hotel itself offers 21 unique, beautifully decorated snow rooms. The temperature inside the rooms is always around -5 degrees Celsius (23°F) but the comfortable bed with a white sheet and lambskin cover, a pillow, a fleece sheet and a sleeping bag designed for Arctic conditions ensures a good night sleep.
Hotel website: SnowCastle
8. KIRKENES SNOWHOTEL, NORWAY
Kirkenes Snowhotel opened for the first time in 2006, offering its guests a wonderful experience in one of Norway’s most beautiful surroundings. Every room in Kirkenes Snowhotel is like a small treasure, uniquely decorated by artists from around the world, and featuring a different theme from the Arctic culture or nature. The lighted ice sculptures give the Snowhotel a very cosy and special atmosphere. The hotel also offer warm cabins, inspired by the traditional hunting and fishing hut – the so-called ‘gamme’ – that you find in the wilderness in the Sami areas of the Arctic. The huts are developed along with architects from Switzerland and are equipped with air conditioning, underfloor heating, natural tiles, an exclusive bathroom with a separate aurora wall.
Hotel website: Kirkenes Snowhotel
7. VILLAGE IGLOO BLACKSHEEP, LA PLAGNA, FRANCE
Village Igloo Blacksheep is a unique accommodation located at 2118 m (6500 ft) altitude on the ski slopes in La Plagne Paradiski resort. Off the beaten track and nestled into a sheltered spot with views of Mont Blanc, the Igloo village (run by a French company called Blacksheep) is a really special place to spend an evening. Here you can experience life in an igloo, on the slopes. Igloos are equipped with beds or camp beds with specialized duvets and individual sheets provided. There is a separate igloo with shared dry toilets. In the evening, you can enjoy an aperitif around the campfire, while traditional Savoyard fondue and wine are served in the restaurant igloo. There is also a guide on site serving a continental breakfast in the morning.
Hotel website: Village Igloo Blacksheep
6. KAKSLAUTTANEN ARCTIC RESORT, FINLAND
Kakslauttanen is a 4-star resort in North Lapland which has quite rightly earned the nickname ‘Igloo Village‘ since it’s famous around the world for its snow igloos and glass igloos accommodations. The glass igloos are built from a special thermal glass so the temperature inside the igloo is plenty toasty. Surrounded by Lapland’s exotic and stunning scenery, not only can guests sample the peace of sleeping in snow (the snow muffles sound, and provides a great night’s sleep), the glass igloos are fantastic for lying on your bed at night, watching the Northern Lights (Aurora borealis) in the warm. There’s also a restaurant one site and a chapel provides the perfect setting for fairytale winter wonderland weddings.
Hotel website: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
5. ESKIMSKA VAS, SLOVENIA
The Igloo hotel is part of the Igloo Village, which can be reached by a cable car ride up the mountain followed by a snowshoe hike. The hotels includes two igloos for 8 persons to sleep in each and also two special romantic igloos for couples. The beds are made of blocks of snow and are covered with an insulating material. The second cover are sheeps skin which is known to be very warm material. On top of all you will find a special expeditionary sleeping bag, which will for sure keep you warm all night long. In the Igloo restaurant, guests have a chance to experience a traditional Slovenian sausage (Carniolian Sausage) with horseradish on the side and fresh bread, a typical Slovenian dish that will not disappoint your taste buds.
Hotel website: Eskimska Vas
4. SNOWVILLAGE, KITTILA, FINLAND
Each year, around 20 million kilos of snow and 350 000 kilos of crystal clear natural ice are used to build the spectacular SnowVillage which changes in shape, size and design to amaze visitors year after year. Located in the Western part of Finnish Lapland, the SnowVillage’s hotel offers 30 snow rooms and suites amid a vast network of striking corridors full of spectacular snow and ice art to explore. Here, you can spend a cosy night, a delicious dinner in the spectacular ice restaurant and the coolest drinks served “on the rocks” from the ice bar. Or, simply visit to marvel the vast corridors packed with snow rooms and snow and ice sculptures that are just waiting to be explored.
Hotel website: SnowVillage
3. HOTEL OF ICE BALEA LAKE, ROMANIA
Since 2005, in the heart of the Făgăraş Mountains, the most distinguished hotel of Romania – the Hotel of Ice Balea Lake – is built every winter. The hotel is fully snow-covered and constructed with ice blocks extracted from the largest glacier lake of the Fagaras Mountains, Bâlea Lake. In less than a month, ice artists and craftsmen manage to raise a home for winter lovers, and their work is rewarded by visiting tourists, with over 8,000 guests annually. The hotel has 14 double rooms with king size bed. Next to the hotel, for those who want more privacy, there are 6 igloos, each with double bed. The beds are constructed of large blocks of ice. The decor is entirely of ice and it is different in each room, from year to year, depending on the season theme.
Hotel website: Hotel of Ice Balea Lake
2. HÔTEL DE GLACE, QUEBEC CITY, CANADA
Located only 4 km (2,5 mi) from the north end of Québec City, the Hôtel de Glace is a must-see attraction that has seduced over a million people around the world with its unique style and spellbinding deco since its opening in 2001. It’s a stunning yet ephemeral work of art and architecture entirely built of snow and ice and modeled after Sweden’s original icehotel (cf below). Every winter, this unique hotel is completely redesigned and rebuilt, offering an unforgettable experience in the only hotel of its kind in North America. Guests can choose to enjoy a cocktail served in a glass made of ice or spend the night in one of the 44 theme rooms and suites and relax in the outdoor hot tubs and sauna.
Hotel website: Hôtel de Glace
1. ICEHOTEL, JUKKASJÄRVI, SWEDEN
Icehotel is a world-famous hotel and an art exhibition made of ice and snow from the Torne Rover, the largest of Sweden’s four national rivers. Founded in 1989, it is reborn in a new guise every winter, in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi – 200 km (125 mi) north of the Arctic Circle. When the first snow has sprinkled the whole of Jukkasjärvi with white, artists from all over the world come together in the village to take part in creating the art exhibition of snow, ice and light that makes up Icehotel. Creating a setting for life-enriching moments, it is a place to discover silence, northern lights, glistening snow-clad forests, reindeer, cloudberries, kettle coffee and much more.