In 1989 Yngve Bergqvist visited the snow and ice festival at Sapporo in Japan, looking for ideas for winter attractions in the busy summer resort of Jukkasjärvi, 200km north of the Arctic Circle. He was inspired, so inspired that in November that year an ice seminar was held in Sweden, with Japanese ice artists in attendance to advise and guide the locals on how to harvest the frozen Torne River.
And so the foundations of the Icehotel were begun, with the first guests staying in the Ice House 20 years ago in 1992. It is a project that has grown extraordinarily to be the largest building of its kind in the world. However, the hotel stays close to its roots in design and art, with artists, sculptors and architects from around the world contributing to the astonishing annual creation that will truly take your breath away.
Think of the palace of the White Witch in Narnia, and then some. The Icehotel boasts stunning, individually designed art suites, some humorous, some startling, all beautiful and glacial. The Fibonacci Room, for example, follows the spiral form of the Nautilus shell and is so organically natural you are awe struck. Or perhaps Kraken’s Lair, all tentacles and glowing purple lights, will be your favourite. Add to that a bed made from ice, with reindeer skins, and a maintained temperature of about -5C, which gives you the best sleep ever according to those in the know. You are, I am assured, provided with Arctic sleeping bags!
There are of course all the usual winter activities, snowmobiling, saunas, husky sledging, Northern Lights and so on, but how about getting married or having a blessing in the Ice Church? What a mystical, beautiful experience! Candles, ice cube chairs and a gloriously curved ceiling create an atmosphere quite unlike any other. The light throughout all the buildings is remarkable, the ice seems to change the quality of the coloured lights, creating an intensity and pureness that is unexpected. Chandeliers can be made of glass and here, yes, you’ve guessed it, they are ice, brilliantly carved to twinkle and reflect the light around them, truly works of the finest art.
Be reassured, you can also have a warm bed, the rooms look fine, Scandinavian style but I cannot think for a minute why you would turn up the opportunity to sleep in a room made of uniquely sculpted ice that will last just a few months.
Whilst the Icehotel is certainly in a remote part of the world, direct flights are now available, bringing this visionary building just a little bit nearer, however, closer still is the IceBar in London, where you can sample the delights of icy hospitality in the UK. A kind of taster, I guess, for the real thing! Thermal kit on whichever you chose.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Discover the World for trips to The Icehotel