The Icehotel: The World's First Hotel Made Entirely of Ice - What It’s Like and Where to Find It

Sveva Valeria Castegnaro
copertina Icehotel di Jukkasjarvi Asaf Kliger

Even the beds are made of ice, not to mention the cocktail bar. Among frozen sculptures and sleeping bags to keep warm, the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Lapland, feels like stepping into a dream.

All photos by Asaf Kliger

The hotel

Despite the relentless and concerning melting of ice caused by global warming, the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Lapland, a solid 17 km from Kiruna (the northernmost city in Sweden), remains in enviable and flawless condition, and this year, it completed its 34th season with great success and extreme enthusiasm from guests. Founded in 1989 by visionary entrepreneur Yngve Bergqvist, the Icehotel is still, after more than three decades, the first and largest hospitality complex in the world built entirely from ice.

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For the Jukkasjärvi hotel, it would be more accurate to talk about "editions" rather than "seasons"; each year, after the ice melts in spring, the structure takes on a completely new look. From December to April, this unique hotel welcomes numerous tourists from all over the world, eager to experience something truly extraordinary. Construction takes six weeks, but the work begins in the spring when ice blocks are harvested from the nearby Torne River and stored in an ice warehouse in Jukkasjärvi.

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To create this year's 15 suites and the majestic ice sculptures that adorn them, 500 tons of snow were used, equivalent to about a billion snowballs and 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools' worth of "snice," a special mixture of snow and ice. Inside, the temperature always hovers between 23°F and 18°F below zero, but don't worry: the rooms are equipped with heated beds and bathrooms, and guests are provided with sleeping bags and reindeer hides. Visitors staying at the Icehotel can also enjoy saunas and hot tubs in areas adjacent to the ice structure, as well as the restaurant and bar, which are also entirely made of ice.

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The person leading the work and coordinating the 32 international artists, as well as the builders and the electrical and lighting designers (a total of around 70 people), is an Italian: Luca Roncoroni. The Como-born architect, who has lived in Norway for several years, has taken on the role of creative director. "Every year, I'm amazed by what this incredible team manages to create," Roncoroni told Dove.

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Among all the majestic sculptures, one that garnered particular interest this year was “Katt & Råtta” by Tjåsa Gusfors and Hanneke Supply, which depicts a giant mouse hiding a piece of cheese from a cat's view. "This year's suites display an incredible level of creativity, forming an exciting collection of dreams, expressions, and artistic ideas," said Marie Herrey, CEO of the Icehotel. Although the hotel is now starting to melt, returning the borrowed water to the Torne River, tourists can still visit the permanent structure, the Icehotel 365, while Roncoroni is already planning the 35th iteration of the world's largest ice hotel.

Icehotel di Jukkasjarvi Asaf Kliger

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