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Sleeping in Ice Hotels

character standing outside an ice castleThis may fall into the believe-it-or-not category but ice hotels actually exist. An ice hotel is exactly what it sounds like–a hotel constructed from blocks of ice.

Most ice hotels are seasonal, dependent on temperatures staying well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celsius. While ice hotels are cool (see what we did there?), they’re definitely not for everyone. Adventurous travelers who don’t mind sleeping in outdoor conditions are their target demographic, and these unique digs don’t usually come cheap. However, some ice hotels offer specials that combine multi-night stays with meals or activities. For example, Sweden’s ICEHOTEL offers two-night packages starting at around 3,000 Swedish krona or $380 USD.

Where Can I Find an Ice Hotel?

Obviously, ice hotels can only exist in regions that are cold enough to keep the ice frozen–otherwise, guests would wake up soaked. North America’s only ice hotels are in Canada. In fact, there are only two, and they’re both in Quebec. The Hotel de Glace features 85 rooms, a restaurant, an ice bar, sauna, and hot tub. The Snow Village features suites and standard rooms, in addition to igloos.

Not surprisingly, Nordic countries have the most ice hotels. Finland features the SnowCastle of Kemi, the world’s largest snow fort, and Lainio Snow Village, which boasts artwork made from snow. Norway has the most ice hotels, including Ice Lodge, Kirkenes Snow Hotel, and Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. Sweden’s Icehotel Jukkasjarvi was the world’s first ice hotel and arguably the most famous. Elsewhere in Europe, Switzerland and Romania each have one ice hotel. Hokkaido, Japan is home to Asia’s only ice hotel, located at Alpha Resort Tomamu.

Staying Warm at Night

In most ice hotels, beds are made of blocks of ice on wooden platforms. While this doesn’t sound like a comfortable sleeping arrangement, they’re topped with layers of foam and hides or furs to make them soft and insulated. Guests are given sub-zero rated sleeping bags, and some ice hotels offer crash courses in chill sleeping, making recommendations for how to use the sleeping bags and explaining what type of clothing to sleep in (long thermal underwear, woolen socks, and hats are ideal!). The hotels typically have a room temperature of around 23 to 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Most ice lodging destinations offer standard, warm rooms separate from their ice structures for guests who can’t take the cold.


What’s It Like?

Travel bloggers often report that ice hotels are a love-it-or-hate-it experience. Most ice hotel guests spend one night in a cold room and subsequent nights in a regular, heated room. Some hotels offer certificates documenting the achievement of spending the night in sub-freezing temperatures. Rooms often have beautiful ice sculptures and native art. Hotels usually offer value-added activities, like dogsledding adventures, ice sculpting classes, or snowshoeing, and lucky guests in certain location may be treated to a breathtaking show by the Northern Lights.

Tips for Guests

Discover the World offers a helpful infographic with tips on getting the most out of an ice hotel stay. They recommend acclimating to the temperature by spending time in the ice bar or touring the grounds before bed. There are plenty of options for warming up in the morning, including hot drinks on tap and a hot shower or sauna experience.

Have you ever stayed in an ice hotel, or even just slept outside in the cold? Love it or hate it? Share with us in the comments!

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