Talk about the ultimate green building. This hotel houses and entertains guests all winter and then as summer approaches and the temperatures rise, it simply melts into one giant puddle, only to be re-built the following year.
The ice hotel is located in the village of Jukkasjarvi , 200 km north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, on the banks of the mighty Torne River. While the village used to brim with tourists during the summer months, it became quite deserted in the severe winter months, when everything, including the river became a block of ice.
Then in the early 1980's, in a bid to attract winter visitors, a local tourist company decided to host an art exhibition by French artist Jannot Derrit, in a specially built igloo on the frozen Torne River. The 60sq ft. structure attracted many visitors in the middle of winter. One night a group of tourists, carrying reindeer hides and sleeping bags, decided to camp in the igloo and loved it so much that the idea for the Ice Hotel was born.
The Ice Hotel has come a long way since these humble beginnings. The design is different every year and is getting increasingly more sophisticated. Each area is now advertised as a "work of art", with artists from all over the world vying to design one of the bedroom suites, reception lobby or the bar. There is even a church, built entirely of ice, where couples come to get married.
The hotel offers something for every budget, with accommodations ranging from a luxurious Art Suite, which boasts of beautiful ice sculptures to the bare bones Snow Room, which only sports a simple bed. All the beds, made from ice and snow, are covered with reindeer skins. Guests, who are advised to keep their gloves and winter hats on, snuggle up in thermal sleeping bags, and get a good night's rest in the -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees F) temperature.
Most guests end up spending just one night in this freezing environment, before moving to more conventional warmer cabins nearby. But all agree that it is an amazing adventure.
Activities at the hotel includes snow-shoeing, Moose safaris, dog sledding, snowmobile safaris and even overnight wilderness camps. While there are no other restaurants in the vicinity, the Ice Hotel, somehow manages to serve its patrons amazing gourmet meals.
Over the years, many copy cat ice hotels have emerged. Ice Hotels can now be seen in Quebec City, Canada, Norway, Finland and Romania. Open only for a few months each year, these hotels attract a lot of tourists who have to book early to secure a room. For more information and additional pictures of the Ice Hotel in Sweden, check out their website at www.icehotel.com.