Most of our customers usually venture to the remoteness of Swedish Lapland to spend a night in the Icehotel during the depths of a Nordic winter. However, never one to follow the crowd, I travelled there during the 24 hours of midnight summer sun to spend a night sleeping on ice!
Located next to the River Torne, not far from the small village of Jukkasjärvi, you will find the Icehotel 365. In the summer, it features an ice bar, an ice gallery and twenty ice suites – nine of which have a private sauna in a lovely heated en suite bathroom. These suites are all individually designed, created and hand-sculpted by artists from around the globe and stand in stark contrast to the lush greenery outside.
On arrival I visited the huge freezer rooms where they store the “borrowed” blocks of ice carved out of the river during spring, ready to build the winter version of the hotel. I learnt how sustainability plays a very important role; the hotel is run entirely on renewable energy. With the development of solar energy from the many hours of Arctic Circle sunshine between May and September, the Icehotel can remain open year-round.
After enjoying an amazing tasting menu at the restaurant (where some courses were even served on plates of ice!), it began to dawn on me that I too would be spending some time on ice… and infinitely more time than the restaurant’s amazing chocolate cake spent on my ice plate!
With the fear of the upcoming unknown, I’m not ashamed to say the butterflies started. Can humans really survive temperatures of -5 degrees for a night? (of course they can). Will I get any sleep at all? (I did). Will I ever pluck up the courage to come out of the heated bathroom? (… Eventually).
Guests collectively gathered in the reception to pick up our huge bags of expedition-style sleeping bags. Grinning rather nervously at each other, we learnt that all we would need to wear was our normal nightwear plus hats, woollen socks and a lightweight fleece. By this point we had already spent a relaxing few hours admiring the art in the suites and enjoying a hot chocolate in the Ice Bar, or vodka served in ice shot glasses for those who might fancy something a little stronger.
The coldness took my breath away upon entering my beautiful suite, which was designed by two Lithuanian brothers who took their inspiration for the beautifully carved motifs from Gustav Klimt. The suite was named Kiss, though there would be no kissing going on tonight – far too chilly! The room was made up of a seating area, the bedroom and then, through a small corridor, the warm bathroom which had a lovely shower, sauna, a large circular bath and two chairs to relax.
I enjoyed a warming cup of tea before plucking up the courage to venture into the cold! I waited until my eyes grew heavy, and with a deep breath opened the door and stepped into the freezing bedroom. I rushed across the few steps to the ice bed and burrowed down into my arctic sleeping bed. My nose grew cold and I could see my breath with my night torch. Praying that I would not need the bathroom in the middle of the night, I fell into a deep sleep, only to be awoken in the morning by a member of the Icehotel team with a warming cup of lingonberry juice. After a warming sauna and a hot bath, I felt restored and ready for a summer day in Lapland.
I was proud to receive my certificate celebrating my achievement – not only did I survive a night in the Icehotel, but I actually ended up loving my night on ice!