Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Ice Hotel is every bit exactly what it sounds like – it’s a hotel made entirely of Ice. There are several Ice Hotels around the world, notably a popular one in Quebec, Canada, a few in Norway and Finland, and also one in Bulgaria which is not a typical “winter cold” country but their Ice Hotel is high in the mountains where it does get cold. All of these Ice Hotels are nice, but they are naught more than copycats and stay deep in the shadow of the one in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi was established back in 1990’s making it the first Ice Hotel in the world. Granted, even though Ice Hotels are almost always located way up in northern hemisphere where winters are long and cold, their availability is only limited to winter months so you won’t find any of them between May and November. To also answer the question that got in your mind right away – yes, an Ice Hotel needs to be rebuilt from scratch each year out of snow and blocks of ice.

Cozy Church in Jukkasjarvi Ice Hotel, Photo: bjaglin, Flickr
Cozy Church in Jukkasjarvi Ice Hotel, Photo: bjaglin, Flickr

Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi Location

Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi where the Ice Hotel is built every winter is a small, lakeside settlement located in northern Sweden, in Kiruna Municipality of Norrbotten County. Its location is about 145 km north of the Arctic Circle. Kiruna is the nearest bigger town to Jukkasjärvi. You can see the location of Jukkasjärvi on a navigable, interactive map below:

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History of Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

What eventually turned out to be an Ice Hotel was not originally intended as one. Due to its location beyond the Arctic Circle, Jukkasjärvi has been attracting ice carving artists for years. Then one day in 1990, when French artist Jannot Derid was holding an exhibition of his ice carvings in an improvised igloo, the turnout was larger than anticipated and lack of available rooms forced some of the visitors to make arrangements to stay the night in that improvised igloo. Locals covered blocks of ice inside the igloo with reindeer skin and let visitors sleep on top, inside their sleeping bags.

When the morning came, the visitors who were believed to have been unlucky to have to sleep in the igloo were actually raving about what an amazing experience it was and how privileged they felt for having had the opportunity to sleep inside the ice shed. Not only did they find the reindeer skin covered ice beds comfortable, they all agreed that in spite of potentially negative anticipations, it was not cold inside the igloo at all. And thus the idea for an Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi was born.

The Chandelier in this Ice Hall is Also Made of Ice, Photo: Tom Corser, Wikipedia
The Chandelier in this Ice Hall is Also Made of Ice, Photo: Tom Corser, Wikipedia

How Is the Ice Hotel Built?

As winter in Northern Sweden draws to a close in March, locals from Jukkasjärvi scrape tons of ice blocks and snow from nearby Torne River. This frozen mass is then stored in large production hall. This “freeze house” is used in Summer months as an exhibition hall.

The bulding of Ice Hotel starts roughly in mid November when the temperatures drop. Main bearing columns have steel rods inside to prevent the unlikely collapse. These are created by spraying snow on the steel construction and allowing it to freeze into rock solid columns. Walls of ice are built around these bearing columns and large blocks of ice are placed inside the rooms for the artists to carve statues and decoration out of it. When one section of the Ice Hotel is finished, it is opened for first guests (usually in early December). The works on construction continue for at least another month with each new finished section opening at a later stage. Entire hotel is usually finished in early January.

Completed hotel has lodging capacity for about 100 people and contains various facilities, such as a church, an Absolute Ice Bar, a reception hall, etc. As the hotel is rebuilt from scratch each year, it always looks different and always offers different facilities and different decoration. There are never two suits that look the same. Artists who participate in creation of Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi are chosen by a jury based on skills and originality of each artist. A total of about 50 artists participate in creation of the Ice Hotel each year, making each of its 80 rooms hand crafted and individually designed.

Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel, aside from being world’s first, is also world’s largest. Its facilities are open between mid-December and mid-April. As the temperature starts to rise in Spring, the operation of the Ice hotel for the year is closed and the ice is allowed to melt back into the Torne River.

Ice Hotel Art Suite Individually Hand Crafted Into Dragon Den, Photo: Valli Schafer & Barra Cassidy, Wikipedia
Ice Hotel Art Suite Individually Hand Crafted Into Dragon Den, Photo: Valli Schafer & Barra Cassidy, Wikipedia

How Much Does Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi Cost

With only a few months to appreciate the ingenuity of the Ice Hotel, and given that it takes 50 skilled artists a month of work in freezing weather to build the Ice Hotel, the per night prices are not particularly cheap. Plus take into account that Jukkasjärvi is in Sweden and Sweden is one of world’s most expensive countries. Be prepared to spend upwards of €300 per night of stay in world’s original and largest Ice Hotel.

Things to Do in Jukkasjärvi

To make your stay at the Ice Hotel more exciting, you can join one or more of countless activities available to the Jukkasjärvi visitors. Snow mobiles are available for rent to go exploring vast planes of Arctic Sweden, or if you are more adventurous you can do the same with a husky sledge. To keep your spirits up you can go cross country skiing, or join reindeer and moose safaris. And since you are staying at a beautifully carved Ice Hotel, you could also try your luck at ice sculpting. There is never a lack of activities in Jukkasjärvi. You are more likely to run out of time before you get a chance to take part in each of the fun and exciting adventures available.

A Shot from an Ice Glass at Absolute Ice Bar, Photo: findfado, Flickr
A Shot from an Ice Glass at Absolute Ice Bar, Photo: findfado, Flickr

Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi Video

This video is a nice document about what the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi has to offer. Keep in mind that facilities and service change year after year. Also keep in mind that the interest in Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel has been growing exponentially so the hotel grows along with demand. Since this video is a few years old, many things may be entirely different – especially when it comes to size of Ice Hotel and facilities. By now the hotel is surely bigger and has more of it available. Watch the video below as it offers a spectacular view into one of Sweden’s seven wonders:

Everything in Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel is made of ice. All furniture, including chairs you would be sitting on and bed you would be sleeping on are made of ice. Chandeliers hanging off ice ceilings are made of ice, glasses from which you will be drinking are made of ice. It’s plain and simple an ice kingdom that makes for an unforgettable adventure. Standard snow rooms are the cheapest, ice rooms are more expensive or if your wallet is fat enough, you may wish to upgrade to an art suite each of which is individually themed with nicely illuminated sculptures and reliefs on the walls. Bed itself is a work of art. Welcome to the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.

2 thoughts on “Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden”

  1. This is mind-blowing scene in my life to observe such a magnificent ice made hotel in Sweden. Its building demands creative work of art.

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