Have you ever heard of the ICE HOTEL in Sweden?
It’s a hotel built from the ground up every fall entirely out of ice, only to melt down in the spring. Each hotel room is carved in ice by a world famous artist. It’s been on my bucket list for years. I’ve been dreaming about sleeping in an ice room and to see the northern lights that only exist in this part of the world. I decided to finally do something about it.
A few days ago we headed up to Jukkasjärvi for a visit. After flying in to Stockholm from LA we took a 1.5 hour flight up to Kiruna way north of the arctic circle.
Arriving at Kiruna airport thoroughly bundled up in our warmest clothing, imagine our chuckle when the dog sled driver (the preferred travel to the hotel) picked us up and said “Come with me so we can get you in the warm clothes”! The Ice Hotel gives you loaner arctic ski suits, boots, gloves etc. to wear over your own clothing to ensure you stay warm in the arctic temperatures. All dressed up we we’re driven down to the frozen river to meet the dog sled.
What we were not prepared for was that the sun actually went down last week ONLY to not rise until January 10th. So the entire trip we would be without sunlight, with just two hours of barely there daylight.
Already at 2pm it was pitch black.
The sweet sledding dogs are all huskies a lot slimmer and smaller then what you see in the movies. When he doesn’t drive the Ice Hotel dog sled he takes his dogs in dog sled races which are two days long. They love to run.
The dogs howl and can’t wait to start.
We rode on the chilly ice covered river only lit up by the full moon and the occasional house decorated in Christmas lights. A truly magical experience and far removed from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
I could barely contain my excitement coming up to the ice hotel that is one of the most famous places in Sweden.
It was dark when we arrived but here is a picture of the entry the next morning.
All doors are covered with reindeer hide. This part of Sweden is known for it’s indigenous people who were Reindeer herders.
It’s literally so surreal it’s hard to take it all in!
The beautiful chandeliers are made out of ice. Everything is electrically wired and covered with ice detailing so you have light inside the hotel.
We ordered warm lingonberry vodka drinks in the bar.
After the drink we went to tour the hotel rooms. They are open to the public during the day, so hotel guests don’t get their rooms until 6pm.
The first night we had booked a warm room. The second night we were going to dare to stay in one of the ice rooms.
Here are a few of the magical ice wonders.
Each bedroom suite is unique and carved by a world famous artist.
Each bed has a platform and is then covered in reindeer hide which is the warmest thing you can wear apparently.
Stairway to heaven.
At the end of all corridors are beautiful reindeer covered doors.
When you stay there you can go to two warm lobby areas to hang out.
The two ice buildings are surrounded by wood cabins that you can also rent.
We were all really happy to have a warm cabin to go to the first night!!
Everything is dark, silent and magical as you are surrounded by ice and snow and darkness. The only light in the sky was the moon and a few stars at 4pm!
The entire stay felt like night time so it can be very disorienting when you are here in December, especially with jet lag.
After a good nights sleep in one of these cabins we woke up a little apprehensive about sleeping in a cold room. We had booked a horse back ride to see the northern lights, so we would be out in the snow and cold all day. The weather was overcast but we were praying for clear skies, so we would get a chance to see the magical northern lights.
We were driven to the other side of Kiruna close to the base of the highest mountain in Sweden Kebenekajse to a cute stable with Icelandic horses.
Icelandic horses have long hair and live inside and outside in these cold temperatures, and are very comfortable on the snow.
This was my little horse Icelandic Heidur.
The guide took us up in the mountains through a dark forest. Because of the overcast we didn’t see any northern lights, but the full moon came out which made the snowy forest pretty magical as we rode in the quiet darkness.
Afterwards we were invited to a Same dinner, that’s the indigenous people of Sweden. We ate blood reindeer pancakes and mousse soup – again in darkness.
Arriving back from a cold day outside we were a bit apprehensive checking in to the ice rooms. We made an agreement that we just had to sleep in them for a bit if uncomfortable. Luke had a cold so we had rented the warm cabin for the second night as well, which made us all fell better in case it would be unbearable. Considering we are all jet lagged and it’s hard to sleep as it is, we decided to wait until we were really tired to go to our ice rooms.
You start by checking in to the River Lobby and they give you a tutorial how to use the space, how to sleep in an arctic sleeping bag etc. We were told they would wake us up with a warm lingon berry drink at 7.30am.
You need a face mask or gator, a hat and gloves.
It’s a LONG night of a “trippy” adventure!
You get inside a sheet, then inside the arctic sleeping bag that you can sleep in in up to minus 50 Fahrenheits. The silence in a room with ice walls is complete. People say they sleep really well in here. However being in a sleeping bag takes getting used to and the bed is a bit hard as you’re sleeping on ice with just a small platform on it.
We got in quickly and feel asleep, only to wake up about 2am due to jet lag.
There are no bathrooms in the ice hotel…so you need to go out through an ice cold corridor and in to the spa area if you wake up.
Who said you had to sleep the entire night when we had a warm cabin?
We ended up heading back to the cabin where Luke was to eat and sleep the rest of the morning hours there. At least we can say we slept in the ice room!
This is an experience we all will remember for a lifetime.
I definitely have to come back some day to see the northern lights.
Something I must see one day.
The next morning we were very happy to have experienced this beautiful magical place in the world, yet super thrilled to head back in to the world where the sun rises, and to my warm, comfortable house in Sweden.
I hope you have a wonderful Holiday wherever you are. If you have any questions about staying at this place, e-mail me.
What is on your bucket list for the New Year?