Ice hotels are all the rage.

I know it doesn’t immediately sound appealing. To sleep in a, literally, freezing environment, somewhere you usually have to travel out of your way to get to, all to use ice molded cups you can’t even hold with your bare hands for the fear they might stick to you. Read a bit more and find out why these niche structures continue to expand and why thousands of travelers are seeking them out. There is just something special about having an experience in a place that you know will never be able to be recreated again. A truly one in an existence experience.

Why stay in an Ice hotel?

Traveling is all about breaking out of the ordinary, experiencing the new, the extreme, the unusual. Ice hotels give us the perfect opportunity to do all of these. When was the last time you spent the night in a seasonally constructed structure made completely from the elements found only in the most remote areas of the world?

Wanting to stay in an ice hotel comes down to mainly two reasons: the pure novelty of it, and the enhanced chances to see the Northern Lights where they are at their best.

If you are looking for a winter experience that goes beyond snow trekking or skiing, an ice hotel allows you to still enjoy this great season with beautiful snow art, ice sculptures, and an unforgettably interaction with nature.  For those of you hoping to see the Northern Lights, these structures are only constructed far in the North, as the weather permits, which happens to be right in the perfect location to see polar light activity.

Where are there Ice hotels?

There are only about 20 ice hotels and ice hotel-esque versions around the world. The countries in which you can find them are: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, and Slovenia.

The large majority of these structures are constructed in Scandinavia, over 80%, and for good reason. The cold arctic climate allows these properties a plethora of snow each year, allowing them to be more consistent and reliable with their hotels and operations. Imagine getting to your highly anticipated destination only to find out that construction has been delayed.

Photo: Benjamin Dumas
Photo: Benjamin Dumas

 

Within Scandinavia, each country has it’s perks. However, according to an article in The Guardian, Norway rated highest in the most categories when considering which ice hotel is best for you. Norway ranked highest for best location and remoteness. You can easily get to both locations with flights from Oslo. As a added benefit of transportation ease, Kirkenes is the last stop on the Hurtigruten Costal Ferry. The two outstanding ice and snow hotels that have been creating the buzz in Norway are Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, in Alta, and Kirkenes Snow Hotel, in Kirkenes.

Should I stay at Kirkenes Snow Hotel or Alta Igloo Hotel?

I am just making very general comments about these two hotels in this section. The links for each hotel will take you to a more detailed article of the respective hotel for you to better decide what’s best for you.

Both are far north. Both will require some travel time to get to.

Each hotel is set up and ran very efficiently with high ratings and are in good location to see the Northern Lights. The differences will be in the details of what each provide, the proximity to other interest points you are traveling to on your holiday, and if you are going for ideal location at the very North of Europe ( Norway Igloo Hotel), or the remoteness of being by the frontier of Russia (Kirkenes Snow Hotel) and seeing a bit of their influences around town.

What about being cold?

Yes, the temperature in the hotel is a little colder than you are probably used to, running an average temperature between -5 and -2 degrees Celsius (23-28 F).

Fear not, ice hotels wouldn’t be as popular as they are if everyone came out of them frozen in the morning. Through the use of thermal comforters, sleeping bags, heavy jackets, saunas, separate rooms that are kept heated, and various other options, you will never have to be colder than you want to be.

Snow is actually a great insulator from outside temperatures and wind chill. The restaurants, bars, rooms, and chapels each take means to ensure they are properly equipped to keep you warm.

Forget one in a million, this is a one in an ever experience. Dancing lights. Reindeer to play with and feed.  Huskies to go dog sledding. Are you convinced? Check out the differences of the two hotels up above and see which one you should start planning for.

Opening Photo: Sorrisniva Website

Tell us if you want to go or if you’ve been!