ice hotel
One of the rooms in Icehotel 365, which features ice sculptures. PHOTO: TWITTER/ICEHOTEL SWEDEN

This marks the 27th winter that Icehotel is popping up in the middle of nowhere, drawing visitors from around the world who want nothing more than to spend a night in a frozen castle made entirely of – you guessed it – ice.

But this year is a little different. For the first time, Icehotel has created suites that will remain open year-round, as part of a hotel expansion called Icehotel 365. Ironically, the suites will be kept cool with the help of solar-generated power.

To mark the occasion, Bloomberg tasked the Italian architect Luca Roncoroni with the creation of a time-lapse video while he built his signature suite, called The Victorian Apartment.

A regular of Icehotel, Mr Roncoroni has been designing and building snowy suites for the last 15 years.
This is his most ambitious project to date: a two-room apartment with a full library, filled with 200 individually carved tomes that can be examined, rearranged and used as photo props by guests.

He also sculpted everything from the wainscoting to the armchairs to the bedside lamps, using nearly 10 tonnes of ice in the two-weeklong process. (A favourite detail is the faux heater next to the bed.)

Getting there

Want to go? Getting there requires flying to Kiruna airport, which is serviced by the Scandinavian carriers SAS and Norwegian. From there it is a quick, 15-minute drive (or dogsled ride) to the hotel. Expect end-to-end service: Staff will even meet you at the airport with snowsuits to make sure you are never cold. Even still, plan on spending just one night in a frozen suite – it is an extreme experience that wears out its novelty quickly.

The hotel provides reindeer hides as blankets, along with copious whiskey, hot lingonberry juice and access to saunas to keep warm. That is enough to keep you happy for a couple of hours, though, and not much longer. The hotel would not try to convince tourists otherwise.

It recommends spending a night or two in its “warm rooms”, which are not made out of ice and resemble traditional hotel digs, and then capping off a weekend in Lapland with a night in your own souped-up snow fort. While you are there, you will get to try your hand at ice-sculpting or go snowmobiling under the Northern Lights (the owners claim this is “scientifically the No. 1 place in the world for Northern Lights viewing”).

There are also reindeer-led sled rides through the snow-covered forests. Just make sure you pack every bit of warm clothing you own.


This story first appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2016 with the headline ‘Ice suites stay open 365 days a year’.

Like this? Check out Book And Bed, a bookshop-themed capsule hotel in Tokyo.