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Everything You Need to Know About Staying in Ice Hotels 

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In February, craftspeople begin to harvest two-ton blocks of ice from Sweden’s Torne River. The ice — shimmering and perfectly clear — is stored in big warehouses until the following autumn, when construction begins on the vaulted chambers of the famous ICEHOTEL.1 In winter, thousands of people flock to stay in one of the crystalline rooms, on a bed made of pure ice.

Do you want to be one of them? Ice hotel prices can be steep, but the experience is unforgettable. Here’s our guide to staying in ice hotels (and snow hotels, too).

8 important things to know about ice hotels

  1. You’re not sleeping directly on ice. In an ice hotel, the actual bed is made of ice — but you’re separated from the surface by materials such as reindeer skins, blankets and/or a mattress. Typically, you’ll sleep inside a special sleeping bag rated for subzero temperatures.
  2. It’s important to wear the right clothes. During the day, bundle up in layers: a breathable underlayer, an insulating middle layer, and a windbreaking outer layer. At night, you’ll want to sleep in a single light layer (like thermal pajamas).
  3. It’s cold, but not that cold. The temperature inside an ice hotel room is usually around 23 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it’s pretty far from tropical, it’s not going to plunge too far past freezing.
  4. There are no typical hotel amenities inside your room. Don’t expect to find a place to charge your phone (or any power outlets at all). You’ll have to do that in the common areas.
  5. You won’t want to linger in your room. Some ice hotels open to sightseers during the day, so you may not be able to enter your room until the evening. Head to the heated areas if you want to hang out, or to a sauna.
  6. Just book the ice hotel for one night. Hotel operators tell you that’s all you need to get the full experience. If you love it so much that you want to stay, alternate nights in the cold room with nights in a warm hotel.
  7. They’re not intended to be permanent. Most ice hotels are only open for a few months — December-January through March-April, depending on their location.
  8. The bathroom facilities are not made of ice. It wouldn’t be pretty.

Famous snow hotels and ice hotels around the world

ICEHOTEL, Sweden: In 1990, the very first ice hotel (more of an igloo/art gallery, really) was constructed in Jukkasjäarvi. When people later tried sleeping in it, they were exhilarated by the experience. Thus began the tradition of the ICEHOTEL, a structure that is rebuilt every winter by a team of artists. In 2016, a permanent structure called ICEHOTEL 365 opened. Every room is a unique fantasy of frozen art, and guests are greeted in the morning with a cup of hot lingonberry juice.

Hôtel de Glace, Québec: From the first week of January through the last night of March, you can book a night at the stunning Hôtel de Glace at the Valcartier Vacation Village (20 minutes north of Québec City). This ice hotel offers basic rooms as well as themed suites, including some with fireplaces. Look for a package deal that includes activities like dog sledding and snow tubing, or a visit to the vast indoor waterpark.

Hotel of Ice, Romania: Although small, the elegant Hotel of Ice in Transylvania stands out for its low prices: a night in one of its themed rooms or igloos costs 50 to 75 euros, a fraction of the rates elsewhere in Europe. (Just be aware that rooms are separated only by curtains from the main hall.) To reach the hotel, take a cable car high into the Carpathian Mountains. Then order some hot wine in the ice bar to warm up.

Kirkenes Snowhotel, Norway: In a small town in Norway, you’ll find the Kirkenes Snowhotel — the farthest-north snow hotel, with beautifully decorated rooms. Frolic with the nearly 200 huskies who live at the resort, watch the Northern lights flare overhead, or head out on a king crab safari, where you’ll take a snowmobile to the fjord to catch and enjoy the giant crabs.2

Lapland Hotels Snow Village, Finland: The Lapland Hotels Snow Village is an elaborate construction of some 30 rooms decorated with illuminated ice sculptures and figures from folklore. In 2018, the village’s theme was “Game of Thrones,” with an Iron Throne made entirely from ice and a frightening White Walker with glowing blue eyes. At the ice restaurant, you can try reindeer tartare, Lappish cheese and Arctic char.3

The SnowHotel, Finland: Sleep on a block of ice inside a room made from snow, with walls sculpted into elaborate designs. That’s the SnowHotel experience in Kemi, Finland. Guests also get admission to the SnowCastle, a fort of snow and ice that includes a chapel and restaurant. Normally open from January through April, Kemi is building a new SnowCastle that will remain year-round.4

And remember that travel insurance can protect all your vacations, whether you’re heading to an ice hotel or a tropical bungalow. If you’re planning a trip soon, get a quote now!

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