chill out

Check out these stunning ‘ice hotels’ around the world

"A Night at the Theatre" by Jonathan Paul Green and Marnie Green, at Icehotel in Sweden. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“A Night at the Theatre” by Jonathan Paul Green and Marnie Green, at Icehotel in Sweden. Photo by Asaf Kliger.

Sleeping in an “ice hotel” is usually something that people will want to do for just one night. Everything in the room is made of snow and ice, except for the mattress, which is covered by reindeer skins. And then guests sleep in sleeping bags that are tugged so tightly shut, there is only room to stick out their mouth and nose. But otherwise, even the bed itself is made of ice, and a room that is made of snow and ice is, by definition, cold. 

But these “ice hotels” are not just glorified igloos. All of that ice and snow can be carved into stunning images and sculptures, which use lights and shadows to paint a palette with countless shades of white, creating beautiful, hypnotizing designs that swirl along the walls. 

Icehotel in Sweden. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
Icehotel in Sweden. Photo by Asaf Kliger.

The first ice hotel was built in northern Sweden, back in 1989, and several others have emerged in other countries including Canada, Finland, and Japan. Each hotel is a masterpiece: some have lobbies draped with ice chandeliers, and ice chapels, like the Ice Church at Icehotel (photo above). In the countries of Europe and in Canada, same-gender weddings are legal, and the ice chapels warmly welcome all couples. 

These properties also include permanent structures like hotel rooms, restaurants, and blessedly warm bathrooms, because some experiences don’t need to be entirely authentic. But there is a lot to enjoy in the cold, like snowmobiling and dog sledding, or just cozy up for an evening under a blanket and watch the Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the stunning “northern lights.”

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Icehotel in Sweden, the ice hotel that started them all, here are some photos of the “art suites” from this season and also from recent years in the past. Then below are photos of other ice hotels, in Finland, Norway, Austria, Quebec, and Japan.

These ice hotels are open for visitors all winter, although each location has a different end-of-season, depending on when things start to melt. Then, when the next winter approaches, a new batch of sculptors will start it all again.

“Cumulus” by Annakatrin Kraus and Hans Aescht. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“Cumulus” by Annakatrin Kraus and Hans Aescht. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
 "Meltdown" by Rob Harding and Fabian Jacquet Casado. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“Meltdown” by Rob Harding and Fabian Jacquet Casado. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“Spruce Woods” by Jennie O’Keefe and Christopher Pancoe. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“Spruce Woods” by Jennie O’Keefe and Christopher Pancoe. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
"Mermaid Fitness," by Nina Hedman and Magnus Hedman. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“Mermaid Fitness,” by Nina Hedman and Magnus Hedman. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
"Queen of the North" by Emilie Steele and Sebastian Dell’Uva. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“Queen of the North” by Emilie Steele and Sebastian Dell’Uva. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
"Pole Dancing," by Eryk Marks and Tomasz Czajkowski. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“Pole Dancing,” by Eryk Marks and Tomasz Czajkowski. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
"Elephant in the Room" by Anna Sofia Mååg. Photo by Asaf Kliger.
“Elephant in the Room” by Anna Sofia Mååg. Photo by Asaf Kliger.

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