Wintery weather can transform destinations, especially if they’re home to ice hotels. Made from blocks of ice and snow, and "torn down" when warmer temps usher in, these frozen palaces provide guests with lodging that is pretty chill while keeping them warm with creative furnishings and special amenities. For those who might feel tepid at the thought of an overnight stay, an alternative option is to go on a guided visit. Here are five ice hotels to consider booking a tour of or a room at.
ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Assembled with ice sourced from the Torne River, this frozen marvel is literally a work of art. Each year, designers are chosen to create and install unique artistic renditions of the hotel’s rooms and suites. Drinks from the bar are served in ice carved glasses, and meals at the restaurant come on ice crystal plates. And if in dire need for a warm up, a sauna and relaxation area provides the remedy.
Hôtel de Glace, Quebec, Canada
Ten minutes away from downtown Quebec City, this Canadian property is constructed by hard snow blown over metal molds of different sized arches and domes. As for the interior, various rooms and themed suites have snow carvings as décor, and the blueprint layout also extends to include an ice bar and ice cafe. A separate Nordic Area has an under-the-stars sauna and spa setup, and a grand ice slide lets guests of any age get a fun ride. Tours of the facility include one that goes behind the scenes and shows attendees how to make their own ice glasses.
Kirkeness Snow Hotel, Bjørnevatn, Norway
About 15 tons of ice harvested from a lake nearby the hotel grounds become the building blocks for this igloo-shaped property’s bar and rooms – also with cabins if comfort level is not to be comprised. Each room is graced with snowy wall murals of figurines and scenes relating to Nordic themes. For dining, there are three restaurant options varying in seating, setup and service. Overall, the location makes it a good spot for viewing The Northern Lights too.
Snow Village, Kittilä, Finland
Based in the Western part of Finnish Lapland, this winter wonderland not only has the usual icy lodging, bar, and chapel but also a labyrinth of corridors with much snow and ice art to discover. Snow suites contain elaborate seasonal décor for sleeping in. As for dining, there are two restaurants. Keep your winter gear on to eat inside the Snow Restaurant or peel layers off at the Log Restaurant and get a taste of Lapland’s delicacies.
Ice Hotel, Balea Lac, Romania
To get to this hotel, there’s only one accessible way: by cable car due to its mountainside location in Romania’s region of Transylvania. Rooms and igloos are built with glacial ice from a lake near its location; beds too. For fun times, the property contains a Winter Park featuring rec options such as skiing, snowboarding and skiing along with games and contests. And for meals, an ice restaurant puts together a special gourmet dinner menu that’s partially dished out on frosty plates, while a chalet serves up traditional Romanian and Transylvanian dishes.
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