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My trip to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

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After two days of serious articles about the future of Avios and BA Executive Club, I thought we’d do something lighter today.

I visited the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden yesterday and thought you might like to see some pictures and a video.  We didn’t plan to come here but it turned out to be near to where we are staying so we took a trip over.

What most people who have only seen the odd random photo don’t understand is that Icehotel is really three hotels in one.  You have:

the temporary, annual, Icehotel, created from scratch each November by a team of artists – many of whom have not worked in ice before – flown in from around the world (whilst we were there, they were cutting ice blocks from the river behind the hotel to put in storage for this November)

the permanent Icehotel 365, which looks like the temporary Icehotel when you are inside but is actually a standard concrete block building with an exceptionally strong cooling system!

a standard hotel which, in this part of the world, means a collection of simple wooden cabins, very similar to what we are staying in ourselves in Kiruna

You do NOT stay in the Icehotel for your full stay.  It is obviously impractical.  Most people book a cabin for a few nights and then choose to spend a night on the ice, with all of their luggage etc remaining in the cabin or, if it is the first or last night, in storage.

The temporary Icehotel is just a collection of rooms plus a wedding chapel.  Icehotel 365 contains the Icebar and some larger, and arguably more impressive, rooms.  The standard hotel has the usual mix of bars and lounges.

Day visitors are welcome.  The hotels are empty during the day with the rooms left open as guests move across from their cabins in the evening and leave at breakfast.  A family ticket for four to tour both Icehotels was 699 Kr (£60).

(I cannot begin to explain how expensive most things are in Lapland.  The 10-minute taxi ride from the station to our hotel was £30.  All of the hotel activities, eg husky riding, are £500 – £1000 for a family of four for a 3-4 hour trip.  Using the hotel pool costs £90 for the four of us – it is not included in the room rate – because it is technically in the spa.  The shuttle bus ride to the Icehotel, 15 minutes each way, cost over £100 return for the four of us.  And so on.  If you have any concept of the value of money you should leave it at the airport.  The best one was when we found that our hotel charges £20 to sit in the lobby in the evening because you have a decent view through the windows of the Northern Lights should they turn up.)

You need to treat Icehotel as an art gallery rather than a hotel.  And, from that perspective (since it is clearly hopeless as hotel, having no facilities other than blocks of ice to sleep on) it is a huge success.

I made a video of some of the more impressive rooms which you can find below.  Here are some photos.  This is the central corridor, from which four side corridors contain the rooms:

My trip to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

This is a sea-themed room.  Note the reindeer skins on the bed which cover you at night:

My trip to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Another room:

My trip to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

This is from a space-themed room:

My trip to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

This room had some casual chairs for guests:

My trip to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

This one had a travel theme, with the bed in a boat:

My trip to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

The hotel is a popular wedding venue.  This is the chapel built into the hotel this year:

My trip to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

I’m genuinely not sure I’d want to spend a night here.  As a work of art it is fantastic, but as somewhere to stay ….?  The cabins in the main hotel are also low on luxury, but this tends to be the ‘back to nature’ style in this part of the world and we have something similar at our own cabin at our hotel.

For a better view of the hotel, take at look at the video below.  This also includes some shots of Icehotel 365, the all-year hotel next door.  If you can’t see the video below, you will find it on our You Tube page here.  You can also subscribe to our channel via the same link.

The hotel website is here if you want to find out more.  Kiruna Airport handles 2-3 daily flights from Stockholm from SAS and, depending on season, Norwegian.

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Comments (42)

  • Chris Jarvis says:

    We stayed at the Ice Hotel last March and it was a fantastic experience. I agree IT IS VERY EXPENSIVE and I don’t think its the sort of place to do on a budget but if you can afford it and don’t fret about the cost the experience is worth it. We really splashed out and had one of the ‘suite’ rooms in the 365 building. With these you have your own private warm bathroom, changing room and sauna via an airlock at the back of the room. This means if you find the ice room too cold in the night or if you need to go to the loo in the middle of the night its not a trek! That said we found sleeping on the ice really comfy and had a fantastic nights sleep. In your sleeping bag its really quite warm. Seeing it during the day gives you a taste but staying there is needed for the full experience.

  • Riku says:

    I stayed in the ice hotel in Kemi in Finland many years ago and it wasn’t anywhere near as expensive as what is described for Jukkasjarvi. The best part of the trip was taking snowmobiles onto the frozen sea and joining an ice breaker mid voyage and a tour around the boat with lunch onboard. After that we put on survival suits and jumped into the open water the ice breaker had made (it was about -20 deg). It wasn’t too expensive but generally these things are cheaper if you book direct with the operator in Finland and not through some UK agency.

  • Gavin says:

    I stayed here in 2013 before the 365 building was built. Had a fantastic weekend – although I wasn’t paying the bill. Had one night in the ice room and I couldn’t sleep due to being uncomfortably hot! They have some serious thermal sleeping bags and I had to keep mine half unzipped to try and find the right balance. When I was there they had the option of some smaller rooms in the ice hotel without the impressive sculptures for cheaper.

  • another_will says:

    I stayed there last year as part of a 4 day excursion including Tromso, Narvik and the ice hotel.
    The Arctic train, from Narvik to Kiruna in Sweden was spectacular. We were picked up at the train station and dropped off at the Ice hotel and everything was pre-paid so no need to even think about the money. It was an interesting experience. Pretty much as described by others already. My lasting memory was of how poor the service was – as soon as you go over the border from Norway waiters and waitresses suddenly go from being happy and helpful to miserable and sullen.
    I wouldn’t go back but glad to have seen it. I would spend more time in Norway next time if I get the chance.

  • where2travel says:

    I’ve only been to the one in Quebec and thought it was good fun, certainly a bit different and we enjoyed the one night in the actual ice hotel (with a day of activities on either side). That was at the previous location since it moved closer to Quebec City a few years ago (but I assume it’s much the same). At the time, I remember looking at the various ice hotels and came to the conclusion that it was a lot cheaper overall for the holiday in Quebec than the equivalent stay in Sweden (from the UK).

  • Nick says:

    I get the actual ice hotel bit, but I don’t understand why anyone would voluntarily stay in a hotel made of concrete that is made to feel cold!

    Anyway, Giles Coren and Monica Galletti made a programme about the ice hotel last year (BBC), very worth watching if it pops up again. They showed some of the artists working, as well as what it’s like to stay there.

  • Cate ⛱️ says:

    Hmnnn…..probably the £90 to use the pool (per session?) and £20 to sit in the lobby (per session?) would have been a deal breaker for us. I’d be tempted after a few days to claw some of this back by throwing a reindeer on the BBQ.

    But if it’s something you really want to experience then that’s fine. Thanks Rob

  • Trystan says:

    I didn’t see any fire exits!

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