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Stay: Photo Essay

By Christine Pemberton

Take a handful of simple looking tools. Add snow and ice. Top it all up with prodigious creativity and lashings of imagination, and your finished product? The Icehotel, a seasonal, temporary and out-of-this-world-extraordinary hotel that springs up each winter in Sweden’s frozen north.
Let’s wrap up warmly and go explore, shall we?

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren

Every year, the Icehotel is built from scratch. Workers come and build the hotel out of snow, and then artists come and decorate all the rooms individually. (Hey, we told you up front that this is an extraordinary hotel…) More than 50 people are involved in the actual construction of Icehotel, and then at the end of November, artists start arriving from all over the world to decorate it. In all, a total of about 100 people.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren

A worker taking a break in the snice used to build the hotel.
Yes, you read that correctly. “Snice”.
Snice (snow and ice) is used to build the Icehotel and is a combination of air and a precisely calculated amount of water from the Torne River. It reflects the suns’ rays and protects the ice inside the hotel from melting. Snice has a higher density than natural snow and therefore insulates better and melts slower.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Martin Smedsén

The hotel covers 5,500 square meters, the same area every year, although the number of rooms varies from year to year. There are usually around 65 rooms, divided into deluxe suites, art suites, ice rooms, snow rooms and group rooms.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren

Oh, how silly of us to forget. The bar. Of course there’s a bar. Of course there is.
With as much ice as you want! Drinks here are not ON the rocks, but rather IN the rocks.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren, Benny Ekman.

Every year, different artists are invited to design the 60-odd bedrooms, and despite the temporary nature of the hotel, no effort is spared in creativity and originality,

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren, Luc Voisin, Mathieu Brison.

About 30,000 m3 of snice and about 1,000 tonnes of ice are used each year, and there is lots of snice and ice available for sculpting the fantastic designs that make each room individual.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren, Ann-Louise Abrahamsson, Hans Abrahamsson

Ever lived inside a 3 dimensional work of art? No, we guess not.
Well, prepare to do so at the Icehotel.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Christopher Hauser, Karl-Johan Ekeroth & Christian Strömqvist.

No matter what the theme of your room is, one thing is constant. -5C (you are 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, remember). Welcome to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren, Anja Kilian, Sebastian Andreas Sceller, Wolfgang-A. Lüchow.

The other constant in these amazing rooms? Amazingly warm bedding.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Christopher Hauser, Gretchen Alexander, Melanie Peters & Elmar Regele.

Imagine sleeping inside an origami creation.
The walls, floors and ceilings of the hotel are a unique canvas for designers from all creative disciplines. The artists and art-work vary from year to year, each rendition of the hotel presenting an ephemeral collection.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Christopher Hauser, Marcus Dillistone & Magdalena Akerström.

A funky art suite called - in true London Tube fashion - “Mind the Gap.”

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Christopher Hauser, Nina Hedman & Magnus Hedman.

This amazing room is called “Narcissus” and, true to its name, there are ice sculptures preening themselves in front of you.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren, David Andrén, Erik Tömer, Johan Andrén, Tjåsa Lucia Gusfors.

The Icehotel has a chapel, where couples can marry, re-make their vows, baptize their children. Although the Ice Church returns to the river in spring, love is eternal. Reborn in a new guise each winter and hand carved by carefully selected designers, it is ephemeral and one of the most unique wedding locations that you can find.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Paulina Holmgren

The church is opened on 26 December each year, and then it stays open until April, when it begins to melt back into the river. The ice church is an intimate venue, accommodating around 35-40 people, with walls and ceiling made of snow and the altar details and benches are made of ice.

Ice Hotel Sweden Image

Photo Copyright Martin Smedsén, Jens Thoms Ivansson, Marjolein Vonk, Marinus Vroom

Although you know it is a temporary creation, the end is still nostalgic, as the Icehotel starts melting in the spring sunshine, returning all that creativity and love and adventure and discovery back to the river. Ready to be re-born in a new avatar the next year.

Visit the Ice Hotel Website

© Paulina Holmgren





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