The Ice Hotel Sweden is the kind of property we could visit again and again — and that’s not just because of the views of the Northern Lights or the impeccable service. Uniquely constructed out of ice from the yearly freeze of the Torne River, the Icehotel embraces a totally new interior design every year, the old interior design completely melting away come spring.
The world’s first and largest hotel built out of ice and snow, the Icehotel is one of the most incredible places we have ever stayed, as it is an actual, inhabitable piece of art.
Founded in 1989 by Yngve Bergqvist, the Swedish entrepreneur wanted to bring life to this dark, cold region which had largely gone unnoticed by the rest of the world. “I wanted to create something positive out of the cold and show there is so much light amidst the dark – the northern lights and the shiny white snow.”
The Ice Hotel Sweden actually started as an art exhibition and workshop, Bergqvist inviting Japanese ice sculptors — which was a rare art at the time — to build an igloo of art. Back then, visitors stayed in ‘warm’ rooms nearby. But as the story goes, the rooms were full, so one group was put in the Arctic Hall with sleeping bags and instructed how to stay warm overnight. When they emerged in the morning, they were blown away by the experience and the Icehotel was born.
Every year ice sculptors and artists from all over the globe are hand-picked by Creative Director, Luca Roncoroni to create new interior designs out of the crystal clear Torne River ice. First, molds are used to shape the floors, walls, and ceilings. Yes, the entire hotel is actually ice! But, you don’t need to worry about it melting away. The structure is self-supported thanks to its durable, catenary arch shape. Plus, the rooms are kept at a cool 41-degrees fahrenheit, chilled even more outside by the Arctic air.
Each room is then filled with ice and snow for the artists to shape their frosty interior designs. The intensive design process begins in November, the artists taking 6-weeks to meticulously design and carve everything from the chairs to the bed frames, moldings and art. When the artists finish in December, the first guests are welcomed to the seasonal Icehotel, the last guests checking out in April, just before the warmth of spring melts the hotel back into the river.
Welcoming a staggering 50 to 60,000 guests per year, the seasonal Icehotel was such a huge success that in 2016 they began construction of Icehotel 365. Designed by Architect Hans Eek, this indoor ice hotel spans 2,100 square meters and boasts 55 rooms with icy interior designs so that guests can enjoy the cool experience year round.
There are 20 suites, 11 unique art suites and 9 specialty, luxury suites that have bathrooms outfitted with tubs and saunas to warm up in. When you feel like venturing out of your room you can bundle up and go sit at the famous Ice Bar, browse the sculpture gallery, or even join a sculpting class.
If you are lucky enough to stay here, too, the magic of knowing you’re experiencing something so beautiful yet temporary will stay with you forever.