The world’s most unique hotel – Sweden’s IceHotel

IceHotel might just be the world’s most unique hotel.

Every November, a 100-strong international group of visiting artists and designers descend on the remote northern Sweden town of Jukkasjärvi to build a hotel out of ice and snow.

IceHotel changes every year. That’s because each version melts with the onset of spring in April. The next has to be built from scratch the following winter with 1,000 tonnes of Torne River ice.

The annual cycle gives the designers and builders the kind of opportunity for renewal and creativity that ordinary hoteliers could only dream of. And no one could accuse them of not making the most of it.

The intricacy and beauty of their ice sculpting is nothing short of staggering. It’s fair to say the hotel is as much a work of art, as it is a building.

Though the artistic touches change every year, some elements remain constant. IceHotel always features suites, rooms, a chapel (which hosts weddings) and a bar.

Needless to say, the temperature inside the hotel never rises above sub-zero. Guests are lent warm outer clothing including overalls, boots, gloves and balaclavas. They’re also advised to wear thermals at all times. At night they snuggle into high-performance sleeping bags designed to work in extreme polar conditions.

If you can’t afford to stay, or you’re not popping by Jukkasjärvi (situated 200 km north of the Arctic Circle) any time soon, we’ve put together a photo gallery showing some of the most recent versions of the IceHotel.

Photo Gallery

Jukkasjärvi’s a great place to catch the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), and IceHotel has a room in honour of the phenomenon…

Northern Lights Suite

Northern Lights Suite. Photographer: Paulina Holmgren | Artists: ICEHOTEL Art & Design Group

IceHotel always features a bar made of ice (the same people run the IceBar establishments in Stockholm and London)…

IceBar

IceBar. Photographer: Ben Nilsson/photobigben.com | Artists: Åke Larsson, Mats Nilsson and Jens Thoms Ivarsson

…and a chapel that can be used for weddings…

Chapel

Chapel. Photographer: Leif Milling | Artists: Anders Rönnlund, Anders Eriksson & Johan Fremling

Some rooms are made of crystal clear ice…

Ice

‘Between Worlds’ suite. Photographer: Leif Milling | Artists: Rob Harding & Paco Aquilar

…others are made of ‘snice’ (a mixture of snow and ice)…

The Flower

‘The Flower’ suite. Photographer: Paulina Holmgren | Artists: Natsuki Saito & Shingo Saito

No matter the material, the craftsmanship is immense throughout…

Dragon Residence

‘Dragon Residence’ suite. Photographer: Paulina Holmgren | Artists: Dorjsuren Lkhagvadorj & Bazarsad Bayarsaikhan

Animal skins are used to protect guests from the cold of the ice, and the furniture from the warmth of the guests…

Legacy of the river

‘Legacy of the River’ suite. Photographer: Christopher Hauser | Artists: Ben Rousseau & Ian Douglas-Jones

This is probably the only place in the world where you’d be happy to sleep in the company of polar bears…

Arktikos

‘Arktikos’ suite. Photographer: Leif Milling | Artists: AnnaSofia Mååg

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