My first experience with an ice building came in January 2011, during a two-month project in downtown Minneapolis. One day at the office, someone told me about the Ice Bar* at the Le Méridien Chambers hotel. This outdoor winter bar is constructed from a solid block of ice, she said, and it overlooks a beautiful courtyard with carved ice tables behind the hotel.
So I checked it out after work that day.
The bar was indeed a large solid block of ice. The bartender wore a thick coat with a fur-lined hood covering a stocking cap on her head. I ordered a cup of hot chocolate and drank it while strolling the courtyard. A fire pit in the courtyard added warmth, but I didn’t notice the ice melting. It was in the low teens that night, so nothing would melt soon.
I thought it was a cool place (literally and figuratively speaking).
The Ice Bar at the Le Méridien Chambers hotel Minneapolis (photo by Cheryl Landes)
Since then, I’ve occasionally seen travel articles about the growing popularity of ice hotels, primarily in the Scandinavian countries. These hotels, with walls and furnishings carved from ice, are open in the winter for the adventurous and curious.
Although I haven’t visited one of these yet, it’s on my bucket list. That ice bar in Minneapolis increased my fascination with frozen buildings.
Now there’s a permanent ice hotel in Swedish Lapland that opened a month ago. Icehotel 365 features an ice gallery with frozen art, an ice bar that serves champagne, luxury suites with saunas and themes such as “Wishful Thinking, “Dreamscape,” and “Once Upon a Time.” In one of the suites, there’s an ice staircase that leads to a floating bed.
According to an article published in The Guardian on December 1, Icehotel 365 “will be covered in snow but during the summer it will be kept cool by solar power from the midnight sun, covered with a turf roof and planted with Arctic flowers.” The hotel’s temperature will be kept at 23° F (-5° C).
Icehotel 365 claims to be the world’s first hotel constructed from ice and snow. From its original opening in 1989 through 2015, it was reconstructed and reopened every winter.
The hotel is located in Jukkasjärvi, a Swedish village 124 miles (200 km) north of the Arctic Circle. Read more about the hotel and book reservations directly.
Discover the World, a tour company in the UK, offers package tours incorporating stays at Icehotel 365.
If anyone makes it to Icehotel 365 before I can, I’d love your feedback. Or, who knows, maybe we’ll see each other there!
* The Ice Bar at the Le Méridien Chambers hotel in Minneapolis is closed this winter. There’s no news on whether it will reopen next winter.
Update on January 16, 2017:
Annalisa Barbieri of The Guardian published this report about her recent stay at Icehotel 365.