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A stay at an ice hotel is a truly arctic experience. There are several ice hotels in Scandinavia. Adventurous visitors can find them in Norway, Finland, and Sweden each winter.
What Is an Ice Hotel?
An ice hotel is a hotel that is built out of blocks of ice and packed snow each winter in sub-zero temperatures. A mixture of snow and ice, called "snice" holds it together. Ice hotels come in all shapes and sizes. Guest accommodations can be in large buildings with many guest rooms, while others offer individual igloos for guests instead. The room temperature in ice hotels ranges from 0 to -6 degrees Celsius (32 to 21 degrees Fahrenheit).
Ice hotels often have unique "ice bars" with beautiful works of art created entirely from ice. At these ice bars, even the drinking glasses are made from ice. Some hotels even have their own ice restaurants.
What Do I Need to Bring to an Ice Hotel?
Even though the sub-zero sleeping bag will keep you warm during a night at an ice hotel, you should bring long thermal underwear and a pullover or sweater. Stuff your regular clothing in the bottom of your sleeping bag so you don't have to put on frozen clothes in the morning. Another tip: Make sure you go to the bathroom before you go to bed. Getting out of your sleeping bag in the middle of the night isn't pleasant.
Keep in mind that ice hotels are a special experience and it's uncommon for guests to spend their whole trip at an ice hotel. Most visitors stay one or two nights and spend the rest of their trip at one of the regular hotels nearby.
When Are Ice Hotels Open?
Depending on the weather in Scandinavia, ice hotels are generally open from January to April. Check with individual hotels for specifics.
The Icehotel in Kiruna, Sweden
The Swedish Icehotel is famous around the globe, with its clear ice and lots of natural wilderness outside the large hotel building. The pure waters of the river Torne give the creations inside this ice hotel quite a bit of sparkle.
Fun fact: The ice palace in the Bond movie "Die Another Day" was inspired by this hotel.
You can book online. Construction of the Icehotel typically begins in November each year (depending on the weather), and about 60 ice hotel rooms are open to guests around mid-December. The Ice Church and the Main Hall are done by Christmas and the entire hotel is completed by early January.
In addition, there's the Icehotel 365 experience, a permanent structure with luxury suites and art suites (with private bathrooms). In this year-round hotel, kept cool by solar panels in the summer, there's also a champagne ice bar and ice gallery.
Visitors can expect temperatures between -5 and -8 degrees Celsius (17 to 23 degrees Fahrenheit). The hotel offers both cold and warm accommodations.
The Icehotel also has an ice bar, called the ICEBAR BY ICEHOTEL. Don't miss this at night, when the lights behind the ice sculptures sparkle, guests mingle and the bartender hands you drinks in glasses made of ice. Sip champagne, always chilled.
Location of the Icehotel
Guests of the Icehotel can find the wintry building in the village Jukkasjärvi, located next to the town of Kiruna. It's only 15 minutes from the Icehotel to the Kiruna airport. It's easy to find flights to Kiruna.
The Kirkenes Snow Hotel in Norway
Snowhotel Kirkenes in Norway is a unique destination with lots of room inside and beautifully lighted artwork made of snow. At the geographical location of the Snowhotel, you experience the Polar Nights each winter from around mid-November through mid-January. That means there is no sun, only darkness. This contributes to the mysterious atmosphere of staying in a building crafted out of snow.
Starting in mid-December, the Snow Hotel offers guests individual rooms called Snow Suites. These 20-plus guest rooms come with sleeping bags, mattresses and, naturally, lots of snow and ice. In the morning, walk down to the sauna by the lake to warm up.
The Kirkenes Snow Hotel is one of the first Scandinavian ice hotels to open each winter season (which, of course, depends on the weather).
There is a Snow Bar where guests mingle, and if you're hungry, visit the snow-free restaurant at the Snow Hotel for good food. You'll also find a small sleeping area here for guests who have trouble sleeping in the Snow Suites.
The Kirkenes Snow Hotel is built by the same artists who construct the Lainio Snow Village in Finland.
Location of the Snow Hotel in Norway
The Snow Hotel is built in Kirkenes, a town in extreme northeastern Norway. There are direct flights to Kirkenes from Tromso and Oslo.
As a guest, you'll meet the Snow Hotel guide at the Rica Hotel Kirkenes (located in the center of Kirkenes) in the evening, and your guide will take you to the Snow Hotel. The hotel recommends bringing a small bag with your clothing and toiletries for the night. The bathrooms at the Snow Hotel are heated but separated from the guest rooms.
The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta, Norway
Norway's Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is a beautiful ice hotel found 15 kilometers (9 miles) outside the town of Alta, in the region Finnmark (northeastern Norway). From here, it's only three hours to the North Cape.
The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta offers ice hotel lovers in Norway more than 2,500 square meters of guest rooms, amenities, an ice bar, a chapel and an impressive ice gallery that will take your breath away at night. It's the northernmost ice hotel in Europe.
Depending on how quickly the weather in Scandinavia warms up in spring, the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is typically open from December through April. The earlier you visit, the more you will be able to enjoy the Polar Nights.
On the inside, the 26 guest rooms of the Igloo Hotel keep a constant temperature of -4 to -7 degrees Celsius (21 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit). Guests sleep in cozy sleeping bags on authentic, traditional reindeer fur.
You can warm up in the hotel's sauna and hot tubs whenever you want to, though. Or, visit the ice bar where you can meet other guests in the evening and have the bartender pour you some blue-tinted Vodka into your ice glass. It definitely goes with the decorations.
As with most ice hotels, the bathrooms at Alta's Igloo Hotel are found in a separate building, which is heated.
The Igloo Hotel serves typical Norwegian fare in the restaurant located right next to the hotel's ice building. You'll also find a gift shop and this ice hotel's reception there.
Bjorli Ice Lodge in Bjorli, Norway
The Bjorli Ice Lodge is a luxurious ice hotel found in a national park in northern Norway that is near the Geirangerfjord. Lots of nature surrounds the Ice Lodge, with the river Rauma passing the mountains of Norway nearby.
This Norwegian Ice Lodge offers guests a large ice hotel building with Ice Suites, individually designed guest rooms with lots of icy artwork. When you relax in your sleeping bag at night, you will be amazed at the attention to detail in every room of this ice hotel. Depending on the weather in Scandinavia, the Ice Lodge is open from early January until April each year (usually, Bjorli Ice Lodge is the last ice hotel remaining open due to its high altitude).
The Bjorli Ice Lodge recommends that "light sleepers should bring earplugs to block out the creaking of ice and howling of wolverines." Indeed, it is the nature and wilderness around that give this ice hotel in Norway such a special character. You're likely to see plenty of moose and reindeer in this arctic environment.
To warm up, check out the Ice Lodge's Ice Bar where you can have a (mostly frozen) drink in glittering surroundings. If that doesn't get you warm enough, leave the ice hotel building and head over to the round fire hut or to Hotel Bjorligard.
Stay at the Ice Lodge
Reservations at the Ice Lodge can be made online. Packages consist of only one night at the Ice Lodge; you'll spend the remaining nights at one of the hotels nearby. It's uncommon to stay at the ice hotel for several nights.
If you want to create your own trip, compare flight prices to Molde, Norway, instead and then get a rental car in Molde.
Location of the Ice Lodge
You can get to the town of Bjorli by driving two hours southwest of Molde or three hours southeast of Trondheim.
The Ice Hotel in Hunderfossen, Norway
The Ice Hotel in Hunderfossen is a popular snow hotel (built more from snow than ice) in the region of Lillehammer, Norway. It claims to be Scandinavia's southernmost snow hotel.
The Hunderfossen Ice Hotel is part of the popular Hunderfossen Winter Park, a sparkling white wonderland with the ice hotel, an ice bar, fairytale castle, ice cathedral (for weddings and mass) and multiple winter activities nearby.
Depending on each year's build, the Ice Hotel Hunderfossen houses an average of 25 to 35 guests at a time (groups of 10 or more can even rent the entire ice hotel). It opens in late December and remains open until early March, depending on the local weather in Norway. During high season, the Hunderfossen Ice Hotel also offers guided tours during the day for those who do not want to sleep in one of the ice hotel's rooms.
The room temperature at the Hunderfossen Ice Hotel is about -3 to -7 degrees Celsius. Sleeping bags on top of sheepskin ensure warmth and comfort. All guests of the Ice Hotel can use the facilities in Quality Hotel Hunderfossen.
Nightly rates at this ice hotel are affordable compared with the other Scandinavian ice hotels.
Location of the Ice Hotel
To get to the Ice Hotel Hunderfossen, you can check current flights to Oslo and then rent a car in Oslo and drive two hours north to Lillehammer. The hotel is located inside Hunderfossen Winter Park, which makes it a true destination.
The Igloo Village in Saariselka, Finland
In Finnish Lapland, you'll find Igloo Village, part of Hotel Kakslauttanen. Igloo Village is a unique ice hotel and is popular among adventurous Finland travelers looking for a night in a real igloo. You can book your own igloo here between December and April.
Igloo Village offers guests various accommodations: snow igloos for an authentic arctic experience, traditional rustic log cabins and warm glass igloos to watch the Northern Lights from your bed. There are also chalets and suites.
At Igloo Village, you receive insulated sleeping bags, socks and headcover for the snow igloos. The weather in Scandinavia can get cold. The snow igloos are made for one to five guests per igloo. At night, there is total silence inside your igloo and the only stimulation for your senses besides the freezing temperatures of -3 to -6 degrees Celsius (21-27 degrees Fahrenheit) is the softly colored lighting built into the walls of your igloo.
After spending your night at Igloo Village, don't miss the "largest smoke sauna in the world" to warm up and jump into the river if you're a brave one. Finns do it. Even the restaurant here is a record-breaker. It's said to be the world's largest snow restaurant, seating 150 guests inside a single igloo. Then there's the Ice Bar, an Ice Chapel and the Ice Gallery to explore. There's also a smoke sauna restaurant, an underground restaurant and the Santa Claus Celebration House.
Location of Igloo Village
You can find the location of Igloo Village outside the town Saariselkä in Finnish Lapland. A bigger city nearby is Ivalo. The Ivalo Airport is only half an hour away from the igloo hotel.
Lumilinna SnowHotel in Kemi, Finland
If there's an ice hotel in Finland that you shouldn't miss: the SnowHotel of the Lumilinna SnowCastle in Kemi, Finland. The SnowHotel is open from late January until mid-April.
The SnowHotel is a beautifully illuminated and designed ice hotel with 18 regular rooms, family rooms for up to five and a special honeymoon suite. The temperature in your rooms at the SnowHotel stays at a constant -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit).
You don't even have to stay overnight to explore the SnowCastle. There is an arctic adventure land for kids, a theater and ice art gallery, a restaurant and an ice chapel. However, you won't be able to experience the true ice hotel atmosphere without a night in the midst of ice, silence and softly colored lighting.
The SnowHotel advises guests to bring warm, layered clothing for your stay (even during the day). Keep in mind that the SnowHotel does not have a sauna or showers; guests go to a regular hotel in the morning for that.
Interestingly, the location of this ice hotel is south of the Arctic Circle. That's farther south than most other ice hotels. Therefore, the Scandinavian weather may feel a bit milder than at the other ice hotels in Scandinavia.
Location of the SnowCastle
To get to the SnowCastle and its SnowHotel, check out flights to Oulu airport. It's a 90-minute drive north from there. Alternatively, compare flights to Rovaniemi, two hours east of the SnowCastle. There are rental cars available at the airports.
Nightly rates include breakfast and transportation to a regular hotel in the morning for showering and sauna.
The Lainio Snow Village Hotel in Finland
The Snow Village in Lainio, Finland, is a destination that's hard to forget. The Snow Village is an arctic adventure offering a large ice hotel with an ice restaurant and ice bar, along with activities such as an ice maze and snow slides. Opened in 2000, this ice hotel's accommodations consist of 20 igloo bedrooms and seven fancy ice suites.
Pack yourself tightly into your sleeping bag during a night at the Snow Hotel. The temperature in the Snow Hotel ranges from 0 to -5 degrees Celsius (23 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit), depending on the weather outside. However, there is a heated area where guests can enjoy warm showers and a sauna or warm up in the group room in front of the fireplace and TVs.
The family-owned Snow Hotel also claims to have Europe's largest Ice Bar, where you can meet others in an otherworldly atmosphere and drink from glasses made of ice. Just seeing this bar is worth a visit to the Snow Village.
Leave the hotel and you'll find prettily, illuminated ice sculptures to enjoy in the park. Active and younger guests mingle at the ice maze and the big snow slide for some winter fun. Nearby, there is a sparkling white Ice Chapel with detailed ice sculpting that's definitely worth seeing.
Location of the Snow Hotel
Found in the western part of Finnish Lapland, the location of the Snow Hotel is near the ski resorts Ylläs and Levi, about 150 kilometers north of Rovaniemi, Finland. Most guests come to the town of Ylläsjärvi by flying to Rovaniemi airport or flying to Kittila airport (the latter being just 25 minutes away from the Snow Hotel).