In the dead of winter, people around the world seek out warmth by any means possible. Whether it’s curling up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, huddling up beside a roaring fire, or bundling up in an oversized scarf, the whole idea is to keep the blizzards out, and the cold off our backs. However, there are some people who seemingly like Jack Frost in all his glory, and welcome the idea of adventuring out into a winter wonderland. Ice hotels are a popular attraction around the world. The aesthetics are similar, with all furniture and structural elements carved from ice and snow. You won’t find a furnace, (maybe a fireplace if you're lucky), but surprisingly enough, travellers who have stayed (and survived) an icy night claim that these ice structures are very comfortable.
Here are the best five ice hotels to check out this winter:
Hotel de Glace | Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, Canada
The Hotel de Glace in Montreal, Canada was redesigned earlier this year to feature an incredible Northern Perspectives architectural theme. Quebec City’s famous ice hotel is known for its vaulted ceilings and grandeur, like the built-in Ice Cafe, Grand Slide, ice chapel, and ice bar, where you can take a shot right out of a frosty ice glass. The Hotel de Glace is Canada’s only ice hotel, making it an extremely popular destination once the snow comes. Located right in the heart of the Valcartier Vacation Villages, one of Montreal’s best winter playgrounds, guests of the Hotel de Glace can take part in plenty of outdoor fun, while also relaxing, thanks to the outdoor Nordic spa.
Icehotel Jukkasjärvi | Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Unlike many ice hotels, which are built in the winter and torn down when spring sunshine begins to melt them, the Icehotel Jukkäsjrvi is open for business all year round. The Icehotel is located 200 kilometres from the Arctic Circle and its architectural success is built from the nearby Torne River. The towering pillars, floors, ceilings, and even a chandelier are all carved from the frozen water of the river, making them look almost like glass. Inside the suites, ice furniture has been chiseled down to the tiniest details--including an ice radiator, ice lamp, and ice desk! The natural ice is harvested to create the hotel, and in the spring, it thaws and flows back to its natural source. The Icehotel features a structure called the ARTic Hall, which features an ice bar and an art gallery showcasing work by local artists. Because of its close proximity to the Arctic Circle, where the Midnight Sun shines for 100 days and 100 nights without setting, the Icehotel suites are at risk of melting. New this year, the Icehotel is working to incorporate a sustainability plan which will use solar panels to both capitalize on the natural energy source, while chilling the suites for extended stay into the warmer months.
Igloo Village Kakslauttanen | Saariselkä, Finland
Tourists from all over the world chase the colours of the Aurora Borealis, but not everybody is so lucky to see it. At the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, your chances are heightened when you spend the night under the stars in one of the resort’s glass or snow igloos. This world-renowned arctic hotel provides guests with spectacular views of the midnight sun, Northern Lights, starry skies, and other treasures found in the Arctic Circle. Guests of the resort can choose between a snug log cabin with an open-concept glass ceiling, or a snowy igloo, set against the remote backdrop of Finland’s wilderness. Wake up to see a herd of reindeer feeding nearby, take an ice fishing safari by snowmobile, or saddle up a team of huskies and traverse through the remote Arctic. At the Kakslauttanen Igloo Village, winter fun is endless. Both the glass igloos and snow igloos are very cozy, and travellers can also enjoy on-site services like the smoke saunas, and, if you’re brave enough, ice swimming.
Iglu-Dorf | Various locations, Switzerland
Every year, when winter returns to Switzerland, five igloos set up shop in Engelberg, Stockhorn, Zermatt, Gstaad, and Davos-Klosters. Two more can be found in Andorra and Germany. Opening in December 2017, Switzerland’s Iglu-Dorf (Igloo Hotel) provides a snowy refuge for those who want to see winter for what it is. For more than 20 years, the Iglu-Dorf has accommodated guests from all over the world, and it even holds a Guinness World Record for the largest naturally-built igloo, with a diameter of 12.9 metres. Inside the Iglu-Dorf, guests will find intricate snow carvings in every room and tunnel, which is how the igloos connect to one another throughout the resort. The Snow Bar on site is famous for its fondue and mulled ciders and wines, where guests can grab a bite to eat or drink after a day on the slopes. The Iglu-Dorf has a variety of packages and igloos for couples, families, or solo travellers.
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel | Alta, Norway
Get your long-johns on! The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is the world’s most northernmost ice hotel in the world. The hotel is located in the small fishing village of Alta, Norway, which is famous for its spectacular views of the Northern Lights, as well as its salmon, which populate the nearby Alta River. Several rock carvings dating back to 4200 B.C can be found in Alta, and thus is the inspiration for the intricate ice carvings on the walls of the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. The interior of the hotel is cozy and inviting, with thick reindeer hides to sleep on, and the chance to warm up in the sauna once morning comes.