“Is it a warm night or a cold night for you tonight?” This was the question that greeted me as I landed at Kiruna Airport in Swedish Lapland. “It’s -21 degrees” I thought, “it will definitely not be a warm one.” But staying at the Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “cold night.”
In 1990, a French ice artist held his exhibition in a 60sqm igloo on the frozen Torne River. One night a few of the guests, equipped with reindeer hides and sleeping bags decided it would be a good idea to sleep in the “Arctic Hall”. The next morning the group raved about the unique sensation of sleeping in an igloo – and soon the concept of ICEHOTEL was born.
The original Absolut Icebar must be the most creatively designed bar in the world. Where else would drinking vodka ‘on the rocks’ have such a literal meaning? Not your average Isis night though – unless next Wednesday you’re planning on wearing an all in one snowsuit, boots and balaclava.
More reminiscent of the average Lenton house is the inside temperature of -5 degrees. Running through the magnificent “Crystal Hall” in one layer of clothing (recommended so you don’t sweat, as the sweat could freeze!) is certainly an experience. When you’ve assembled your arctic sleeping bag upon the reindeer skin, the aim is to get inside without letting any part of your body touch the ice, a feat more suited to the acrobat inside of you. Once tucked in, it’s actually surprisingly warm, and after a refreshing night’s sleep, a glass of hot lingonberry juice is most welcome. But be careful not to fall back to sleep, the hotel opens to the public at 10, so unless you want to appear in any Japanese tourist photos I’d get up and jump in the sauna before hitting the buffet breakfast (with a hot fry-up, thank goodness).
ICEHOTEL is on loan from the Torne River and is re-sculpted every winter after it melts in the spring. No two hotels will ever be exactly the same but the experience will definitely be the “coolest” you’ve ever had!