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ICEHOTEL, Kiruna

The ICEHOTEL: an architectural wonder

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20 August 2013 by Josephine Cox

The ICEHOTEL is a unique architectural wonder, built using 2500 blocks of ice taken from the Thorne River in northern Sweden. The blocks are harvested in March and April when the ice on the river is at its thickest; each one weighs in at 1.8 tons. These 2-metre-high blocks are then stored through the summer, ready for construction in October.

The main build takes about eight weeks; this is followed by another six weeks of final preparation and interior detail work. The hotel has an ice church, reception, spacious public areas and most importantly, the ICEBAR. All this is built from scratch year after year; even the drinking glasses are made of ice! Come June however and the hotel will have completely melted and returned to the river.

There are two very different room categories at the ICEHOTEL, warm rooms and cold rooms. The warm rooms are a permanent feature of the hotel and generally accommodate guests for a couple of nights. These modern, cosy cabins are right next door to the cold accommodation and offer a comfortable base for your ICEHOTEL experience. We strongly recommend that warm rooms are taken at the beginning of the stay, this gives you the opportunity to explore the ice rooms and suites and request your favourite for your night in the cold.

The ice rooms are in the frozen structure of the ICEHOTEL and the experience of sleeping in -5°C on reindeer hides is not to be missed. However if your budget can stretch, the Art Suites are the real highlight of the property. Each individually decorated, they are more artworks than rooms.

For those of you for which budget is not a consideration, the deluxe suite is stunning, larger than the ice suites and offers you the privacy you would expect from a room of this calibre.

Entering the art suites at the ICEHOTEL is like entering the mind of one of the chosen designers. Whilst the public areas are fantastic, the Art suites were undoubtedly the highlight for me.

Every year the ICEHOTEL receives around 200 applications to design an Art Suite at the hotel. There is no prerequisite for applying and applicants come from a diverse range of backgrounds, from the world of theatre to interior designers and architects. The 15 successful applicants are then invited to Jukkasjärvi to create their visions in ice.

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