Sweden’s ICEHOTEL has been delighting visitors with its extraordinary architecture, glittering ice sculptures, and unique location since 1989. However, those not brave enough to face the Arctic winters are out of luck. That’s because the hotel, located in the village of Jukkasjarvi, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, is built entirely from ice blocks which melt when summer comes along. But this year, adjacent to the conventional ice structure, sits the equally impressive ICEHOTEL 365. Though also built entirely from ice, it is designed to remain open year-round.
The permanent hotel covers an area of 2,100 sq m (22,600 sqm ft) and has 20 rooms. Guests can choose to stay in a deluxe suite that features bathrooms and saunas or opt for one of the beautifully sculpted art suites. But regardless of the room and time of year, they will have to endure the hotel’s -5°C (21° F) temperature. That’s because, like its seasonal counterpart, ICEHOTEL 365 is built entirely from snice — a combination of ice and snow. According to the ICEHOTEL website, it took 1,000 cubic meters, or the equivalent of 20 million snowballs, to build the impressive structure!
An array of 6,500 sq-ft of solar panels fitted on the hotel’s exterior will ensure that ICEHOTEL 365 remains frozen during the summer months when the sun never fully sets. Hans Eeek, an architect and expert in sustainable building who was involved in this unique structure, says, "Normally you build to keep the heat in, but here we're building to maintain the heat out."
While the permanent hotel is a great addition, it is the original ICEHOTEL that remains the star attraction. That’s because its transient nature lends itself perfectly to artists desiring to express their creativity. This year is no exception.
Among the hotel’s 55 rooms is the “White Cathedral” suite. Built one ice block at a time, it pays homage to French postal worker turned architect Ferdinand Cheval, who spent 33 years of his life constructing the Le Palais Ideal (the "Ideal Palace") from stones collected during his daily mail round. The “Lapland Wave” suite that is inspired by the Lapland open sea, contains an icy bed “floating” upon frozen waves, while the “House of Cards” suite features a deck of playing cards, sculpted from snice, of course!
Creating such icy splendor is no easy task. Preparation for each ICEHOTEL begins in March when about 5,000 tons of ice is harvested from the river and placed in cold storage. Construction starts in earnest in late October when about 100 workers, half of them artists invited to design individual sections, descend upon the region. By late November, the ICEHOTEL is open for business.
The unique hotel has spawned numerous copycats. Similar structures can now be found in Canada, Norway, Finland, and Romania. However, for fans, the original remains the best and grandest of all. Now, with an option to visit it in the summer, ICEHOTEL’s popularity can only increase!
Resources: Icehotel.com, newatlas.com