Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Ice Hotel

Inside the Ice Church.
  My first season in Sweden (2008-2009), I had one of the most unique experiences I think you could ever have: I visited the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Jukkasjärvi is a tiny village about 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. We're talking North Pole-esque coldness and darkness.

  In my two seasons in Luleå, also in the Swedish Lapland, I lovingly nicknamed it the 'Frozen Tundra' aka the 'Arctic North'. Leave it to the Swedes to create something awesomely unique from all that snow and ice!

Looking down onto the Ice Hotel.

  Situated on the Torne River, the Ice Hotel is built entirely of ice and snow. Each winter, thousands of tons of ice is harvested from the Torne to become the building blocks for the next year's Ice Hotel. Once winter hits (usually in mid-November), the building process begins. Snow is sprayed on huge steel forms and is allowed to freeze for a couple of days. The forms are then removed, leaving a maze of free-standing corridors of snow.

  In the corridors, dividing walls are built in order to create rooms and suites. The ice blocks from the Torne are then transported into the hotel where selected artists from all over the world start creating the the individual rooms and suites.

Sitting on an ice chair.
  Obviously, the Ice Hotel melts each and every spring. So the Ice Hotel changes every year, making it that much more unique. The year I visited was the 19th edition of the Ice Hotel. They are now onto the 22nd version.

  The Ice Hotel opens its doors to visitors in early December. I didn't sleep in the hotel (just visited for the afternoon!), but I hear a reservation is hard to come by! The limited number of rooms, and the increasing number of people who want to be able to say they slept in the Ice Hotel make for a busy winter in the Frozen Tundra. :)

One of the suites, & it's bed.
  The Ice Hotel closes for business by the end of April. By then, the long days of Spring sunlight melt away the the roof and hotel walls. The snow and ice become a distant memory that is taken over by the midnight sun that shines for 100 days and 100 nights.

  The bed you sleep on is made of blocks of ice, a wooden base and a mattress covered with reindeer skin. Since the hotel is essentially a huge igloo, the temperature inside stays right around -5°C (23°F). I'd imagine that's a little cold to sleep in, so you better bring your long-johns and a hat!
Hallway/corridor of hotel.
  The hallways and corridors give off a cool/creepy feeling. As you can imagine, it stays rather dark inside the hotel. My teammates (Amra and Liz) and I walked around the suites, ice bar, church, and the outside for several hours. After about two, the bottoms of our feet were frozen (and we were dressed for the occasion!). What the artists are able to do with snow and ice is amazing, and we had a great time exploring all the art suites. 

Ice Glass.

  The church and the ice bar are probably two of the most-interesting areas. Several hundred couples are married each winter in the ice church. Can you say memorable wedding?!? And in the ice bar, you sit in chairs/stools made from ice, and drink from ice 'glasses' (also harvested from the Torne River). It's all a very clever, fun, unique experience to have! I loved it! :)

  If you EVER find yourself in Northern Sweden in the winter, you MUST take a trip to the Ice Hotel. You won't regret it! It's one of the most unique/memorable experiences you can have!

  The pictures don't do it justice (and there are a lot more below). Enjoy! ~ Sabrina 

Opening the doors to the Ice Hotel!
Amra, Liz, and myself in the ice church.

Me, Amra, & Liz in one of the Art Suite rooms.

Beautiful early-afternoon sunset in the Swedish Lapland.
A closer look at one of the beds.

Ice church entry.

Closer look at some of the art work in the suites.

Backside of the hotel. Lots of snow!!

That's one tall wall of snow!!


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