On The Rocks: Ice Hotels And Ice Bars
JUKKASJARVI, SWEDEN -- What would you think if you checked into a hotel where mittens are included in your rate? You may think you’re in for a cold stay, and if you’re a guest of the Icehotel in Sweden (as seen in Photo 1), you’re exactly right. The Icehotel, using only frozen water from the Torne River, is sculpted (and melts) every year, making it one of the most unique accommodations available in the world. It is crafted by artists from all over the world, featuring suites on a variety of themes, including art deco, dreamcatcher, bubbles, and more. Each suite’s theme is reflected in the sculptures and art work carved in the ice.
This particular Icehotel is the first and largest in the world, attracting a wide variety of visitors eager for the experience of solid ice accommodations. Located in Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle, Icehotel also serves as a home base for exploring the high mountains or the fjords of northern Norway. Guests choose between different types of accommodation, but the hotel recommends combining one “cold” night in Icehotel with one or more “warm” nights in their adjacent traditional hotel rooms.
For guests that choose to stay in the cold of Icehotel, the staff offers guided tours that include tips for how to sleep well in the cold. Mittens are included, and guests are advised to wear a woolen hat to bed, in addition to long underwear. Prior to turning in for the night, guests pick up thermal sleeping bags from the reception desk in the “warm” building, where luggage is also kept so that it won’t freeze. The beds are built of blocks of ice, and are topped with a mattress covered in reindeer skins. Bathrooms and showers are located in the “warm” building, which means if guests need to use facilities in the night, they’ll have to get out of their sleeping bags and go to the “warm building.” Because of this, the hotel wryly suggests “not drinking too much coffee before going to bed.”
Feeling adventurous? Give a stay at icehotel a shot.
If you’d like to experience ice buildings but the thought of sleeping surrounded by ice isn’t appealing, ice bars are popping up in more and more locations around the world. Like ice hotels, ice bars (as seen in Photos 2 – 5) often contain beautiful ice sculptures, and a unique atmosphere in which to enjoy a drink. The Icebar Orlando is the first and largest permanent ice bar in the United States. Made from over 50 tons of ice, highlights include a crystal palace with throne, fireplace, sofa and chairs all carved into exquisite designs. Ice bars serve their drinks in ‘glasses’ made from hollowed blocks of ice. An ice bar in Minnesota even pours some drinks by way of an ice chute.
Because temperatures are often under 27 degrees, guests are limited to a set block of time. Icebar Orlando permits 45 minutes per person, and a thermal cape and gloves are provided. Not near Orlando? Ice bars have opened in locations all over the world, including London, Tokyo, Stockholm, Quebec, Helsinki, Las Vegas, and more.
Photos courtesy of:
Photo 1 © Niamh Cotter
Photo 2 © Janne Moren
Photos 3, 4 © Todd Nienkerk
Photo 5 © Matthew Sabo