Let me guess, visiting an ice hotel is low on your vacation bucket list. Not for the outlandish idea, but for the fact that you may never have considered it an option. This was my initial reaction and I quickly decided that an ice vacation to an icy forest, in winter, was the opposite of my yearly beach vacation dream. After digging deeper I realized that there was a multitude of exciting aspects of this idea. For Example, the amazing art, the view of northern lights, and the idea of drinking out of a handmade glass at the ice bar inside of an ice restaurant began to peak my interest.
The following ice retreats are spread over several continents and have a diverse collection of attractions that will attract thousands around the world.
1. Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Surrounded by a village with as many dogs as residents, Jukkasjarvi is home to The Ice Hotel. Originating from an art exhibit in 1980 The Ice Hotel has been evolving every year. As the OG, The Ice Hotel is designed and created from scratch by a new artist, annually. Everything is created from pulling ice and creating “snice” from the Torne River. Ice Hotel has established themselves as the grandfather of ice hotels with over 30 years of experience bringing the art of intricate ice sculpture to quaint winter wonderland vacationing. Sip a martini out of a hand carved ice glass and enjoy the northern lights.
2. Ice Hotel de Glace, Quebec
This hotel “of ice” features a rustic design full of vaulted ceilings, a chapel, and corridors full of delicately carved columns. Each suite comes equipped with its own fireplace; despite the contradiction this seems safe.
The bedding for this particular hotel is a little more dynamic than other hotels in this list. The Hotel de Glace still has a solid ice bed frame, but they also include a wooden inlay that functions as a box-spring. A top this structure is a thin mattress covered with blankets. When compared to other sleeping situations these suites are ideal in their comfort, however, most likely still on the stiff side.
3. Aurora Ice Museum, Chena Hot Springs
Deep in the Alaskan wilderness is the Chena Hot Springs. This resort combines two polar opposites by bringing its visitors the exquisite fine delicacy of art sculpture and a “sipping bar” alongside a hot springs and spa. Take advantage of both worlds by viewing the museum, taking ice carving classes, or enjoying the bar. As evening approaches, dive into a relaxing massage or soak in the springs, while you gaze up at the Aurora Borealis.
4. Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Norway (Formerly Alta)
As the world’s northernmost Ice Hotel, Sorrisniva’s Igloo Hotel houses 30 suites and a plethora of ice activities along with an ice gallery. The hotel is built by the staff every year with local ice and snow. Similar to the Ice Museum, this snow world has both hot and cold amenities.
If you are only able to enjoy the ice lifestyle for so long the friendly Norwegians provide shelter for the southerners. Whether you sit by the fire in one of the igloo suites or while sipping cocoa in the heated restaurant; there will always be something for everyone to enjoy.
5. SnowHotel, Snow Village, Lainiotie, Finland
SnowHotel, located inside Snow Village, is built from over 3 million pounds of snow and 660,000 pounds of ice. Imbedded within the walls, floors, art, and any other place you can imagine are thousands of lights creating an ambiance that is unlike any other hotel that I perused. SnowHotel has created a fantasy environment that has a certain enchanting quality. Enter a world that contains the soothing qualities of a sauna, a cozy fireplace, and unique suites that are more intricate than you can imagine.
6. Romanian Ice Hotel, Lake Balea, Romania
Located high in the mountains of central Romania rests our next ice hotel. The only access to this remote ice hotel is by cable car revealing a fantastic view of the Fagaras Mountains. This hotel is not designed for those looking for an all-inclusive resort getaway. However, once you have completed your trek there is a number of activities that will make the trip unforgettable, including: snowmobiling around Balea Lake, ice sculpting, hiking the peaks and overlooking the world. If any of that interests you than this should move up on your vacation list.
7. Alpha Resort – Tomamu, Shimukappu, Hokkaido, Japan
The Alpha Resort is the complete opposite of the previous Romanian Ice Hotel. This resort has it all, including: skiing, hot springs, ice slides, ice restaurant/bar, ice church, ice rink, and much more. This is not a romantic moonlit diner on the Alps kind of place, but a fun in the snow, family oriented resort. There is no question that you will run out of energy before you exhaust this resort’s collection of activities.
Alpha Resort has created a vignette showing off some of the features at their hotel.
8. Village Igloo, Quebec, Canada
If you are a fan of camping and experiencing a simpler way of living then this is your destination. The Igloo retreat in Quebec is a small community of igloos that are padded with soft pine branches. This is the most minimalistic model of Ice Hotel that I was able to find. Gather around the campfire for Inuit folklore and enjoy the sounds of nature. Just in case there is always a night watchman on patrol to provide an extra level of comfort and safety.
Blog author: Mike Swisher, Content