sweden icehotel30 icebar torneland ak
Torneland, Icebar at Icehotel

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting The Icehotel

Home Destinations Nordic Europe Sweden The Ultimate Guide to Visiting The Icehotel

Every year, when the River Torne freezes, blocks of ice are harvested to create this luxurious igloo hotel. The Icehotel winter season starts in December, until the ephemeral structure melts in spring. One-night sleeping on ice is recommended with additional nights spent in warm accommodation surrounding the Icehotel. Open for more than three decades, the project has grown in ambition, and guests are now also able to sleep in ice rooms year-round in the incredible Icehotel 365 building.

Below we’ve answered the most commonly asked questions about the unforgettable experience of sleeping on ice and staying at one of the world’s truly remarkable hotels.

Where is the Icehotel located?

Despite popular misconceptions – the original Icehotel isn’t in Iceland, it is in Sweden! Nestled amidst tranquil wilderness in the heart of Swedish Lapland, the Icehotel is actually located in Jukkasjarvi, 200km north of the Arctic Circle and just a short drive from the airport in Kiruna. The village of Jukkasjarvi has a small museum and a pretty church. There isn’t much else nearby apart from picturesque scenery and the Homestead (a highly recommended rustic restaurant), so evenings are usually spent in the Icehotel complex, where you can enjoy your intriguing surroundings and enjoy a drink in the Ice Bar.

How do you get to the Icehotel?

Kiruna Airport in Swedish Lapland is just 20 minutes from the Icehotel and 80 minutes from Abisko National Park. Scheduled flights from the UK to Kiruna operate via Stockholm, so you can choose to extend your Icehotel experience with a few nights in Sweden’s capital.

swedish lapland jukkasjarvi frozen torne river rth

Why is the Icehotel so unusual?

It is known as one of the most unusual hotels because the Icehotel changes every year. Each year’s design melts with the arrival of spring in April. The next years design will be built from scratch the following winter.

When was the first Icehotel built?

The first and original Icehotel was built in Jukkasjarvi, Swedish Lapland in 1989 and took just two weeks to complete.

What is the Icehotel made of?

It is built out of ice, snow and ‘snice’ – snice combines snow, water and air. It is made from snow cannons and has a higher density than snow itself making it stronger and perfect for building purposes. In the snice, the small ice crystals with air in between them makes it as white as snow and insulating because of the air. It weighs 500-600 kg/m3. Ice 920 kg/m3. Snow 200 kg/m3.

Is everything in the Icehotel made of ice?

The hotel itself is made out of ice from the river Torne. Inside you will find all the furniture and features also made out of ice – from shimmering ice sculptures and artwork to glittering ice chandeliers, ice chairs, ice suites, beds sculpted from ice and even a hotel bar made out of ice!

However, the entire complex actually consists of a number of different buildings and many are conventionally heated. There is a warm dressing room area with showers and sauna for use when you stay in an ice room, as well as warm hotel rooms and cabins for the remainder of your stay. The restaurant is also located in a heated building.

Why is the ice so clear?

The ice which is used to build the Icehotel is a particular feature as it is crystal clear. Some say this is due to the mystical properties of the river, others say that the river Torne is usually so free-flowing that it ensures few bubbles are trapped within it, leaving a crystal clear ice once it is frozen. The sight as you open the main reindeer-skin clad doors is simply breathtaking – a grand, ice pillared hallway illuminated by a spectacular crystal clear ice chandelier.

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How cold is it in the Icehotel?

Kept at a constant -5°C to -8°C, the interior actually feels quite pleasant, especially when outside temperatures can drop to around -37°C! Don’t worry about the cold though, you will be given special winter clothing to use during your stay. This includes a thermal suit, thermal boots, fleece-lined hat and over-gloves. Walk past several ice sculptures and imaginatively lit ice art towards one of the most popular rooms – the Icebar. With its vaulted ceiling, plenty of ice block seating (thankfully covered in reindeer skins) and see-through bar, it serves an impressive range of colourful vodka cocktails, naturally served in chunky ice glasses! Hot cocktails are also served and provide an instant form of central heating, but be careful not to stand them on the bar, for obvious reasons!

How do I sleep on ice at the Icehotel?

In all types of cold room the ice beds consist of a large block of illuminated ice with a thick mattress and a layer of reindeer hide on which you lay a cosy polar sleeping bag (this will be provided to you). You aren’t sleeping directly on ice. You only need to sleep in a single layer, usually your thermals, as you snuggle down inside the bag. Warm socks and a hat are also recommended. The snow walls are very sound-isolating so you can be sure of a peaceful night. You will be awakened by one of the hotel guides and served hot lingonberry juice in bed.

You change in the adjacent warm Riverside Lobby, which has a comfortable lounge area with a log burner plus warm showers, toilets, sauna and lockable storage facilities.

You will be given a full orientation tour before your night on ice, the guides are there to answer any questions and make sure you have a good experience.

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Is there a bathroom at the Icehotel?

Yes, there are toilet facilities at the Icehotel. If you’re staying in the regular cold rooms or art suites, there are toilet and shower cubical’s for you to use. If you’re staying in a Deluxe suite, your room will have its own private toilet and bathroom facilities.

The heated service building is staffed and open 24 hours, and you will shown how to get to the bathrooms on the orientation. It’s typically only a short distance from the regular cold rooms, so you needn’t worry about drinking before you sleep – a trip to the toilet only adds to the adventure!

Where do I keep my belongings?

When staying in an ice room or in one of the art suites you store your belongings in a locker or booth in the warm service building which is staffed 24 hours, located just meters from the hotel. The Deluxe suites 365 has a private bathroom with shower and toilet directly connected to the bedroom. The heated relaxation area also provides storage for your belongings. If you are staying in a warm room before or after your night on ice, you will be helped moving your suitcases and told exactly where to go on the day.

Is there a restaurant at the Icehotel?

Yes, meals are taken in the elegant Icehotel Restaurant, which is a separate heated building across the road from reception. A fine dining experience, the restaurant offers an extensive breakfast and lunchtime buffet and a delicious à la carte dinner menu. It’s often featured in gourmet magazines around the world and has been awarded the prestigious Werner Vögeli Statuette.

Furthermore, you can dine in style at the Chef’s Table at The Veranda where culinary delights are served by talented chefs with theatre and panache. With only 16 spaces, you need to book your place!

Alternatively, the Homestead restaurant, which is located a short walk along the main road, offers a homely option serving excellent hearty buffet style meals in a rustic setting.

Situated behind the Icehotel’s main reception, the Lounge Bar is a comfortable place to enjoy a selection of light snacks, hot drinks, wine and beer during the day.

swedish lapland icehotel steak chefs table veranda restaurant

When can I visit the Icehotel?

Traditionally, the Icehotel was available to stay in from mid-December to mid-April at which point it melted back into the Torne River. However, in November 2016 the stunning Icehotel365 opened offering the chance to sleep on ice year round. Complementing the seasonal hotel which is rebuilt every autumn, Icehotel365 remains open throughout the year with its sub-zero temperatures maintained by solar power during the summer months.

So, if you are looking for a true winter break, late December through to the end of March are the best months to visit, whereas if you would like to combine your night on ice with a summer adventure under the midnight sun, choose a summer fly drive, perhaps combining with a stay at the Treehotel.

What type of room should I stay in at the Icehotel?

Some people visit for the novelty of sleeping on ice, while others prefer to enjoy visiting by day and sleeping in a warm cabin at night.

Most stays at the hotel are a minimum of three nights with two spent in warm accommodation and one night in the ice hotel itself  ‘sleeping on ice’. The night here is usually spent in an Ice Room or you may wish to upgrade to an Art Suite. Art Suites are the most spacious and impressive, individually themed with striking ice sculptures and a bed that can only be described as a work of art. The warm accommodation is heated and consist of Nordic and Arctic chalets and Kaamos hotel rooms.

Please note that although sleeping in an ice room is a great experience, some people find it’s not for them. If you have particular sleeping requirements, you may wish to reserve a heated room as back-up at an additional cost, please speak to our team for advice and to discuss your options.

Discover more about rooms at the Icehotel >

What do I need to take to the Icehotel?

You need to make sure that you pack plenty of clothes to enable you to layer your clothing as much as possible. On arrival you will also be given special winter clothing to use during your stay. This includes a thermal suit, thermal boots, fleece-lined hat and over-gloves. Make sure you also bring your own hat, gloves and plenty of warm clothing to wear underneath. Flat shoes with a good grip are also essential. Rest assured, when you book your trip with us, you’ll be sent comprehensive Travel Tips detailing what you’ll need to pack together with other helpful travel advice. You can also ask our team, who have first-hand experience.

sweden lapland icehotel clothing

How much does it cost to stay at the Icehotel?

Our standard three night break at the Icehotel starts at £733 per person in a standard cold room. The Art Suites start from £819 and the Deluxe Suites start at £971. These prices exclude flights.

When is the ice harvest festival at the Icehotel?

Early each spring, blocks of solid ice, each weighing around two tonnes, are cut and lifted from the River Torne before being stored in an ‘ice barn’, ready to be used for future Icehotel creations. To celebrate the ‘new crop’, the Ice Harvest Festival (usually around early March) features a live sculpture show by one of the Icehotel’s legendary artists, an ice fishing contest, live music in a lavvu tipi, a kicksled race and ice swimming workshop, plus a market place with everything from local handicrafts, mulled wine and Torne lager tasting. Younger guests can try their hand at ice fishing and snowman building as well as meet the friendly sled dogs.

Is the Icehotel worth it?

Staying at the Icehotel is one of the most unique getaways you can ever experience. It is more that just a hotel – the mission of the owners is to create life enriching experiences; combining innovative design, a spectacular location and local culture. You will be blown away by the enchanting village, daily activities and intriguing cuisine.

Can you see the northern lights at the Icehotel?

During the winter months, the northern lights can often be seen across a clear night sky. The Icehotel is in an excellent location for viewing the northern lights if they make an appearance. For some of the best aurora possibilities, we offer a twin-centre break combining time at the Icehotel with a stay in Abisko National Park, known as one of the best places in the world for witnessing the aurora.

Remember the northern lights are natural phenomena and as such can never be guaranteed to illuminate the night sky. But if you are lucky enough to experience nature’s most amazing light show, you’ll be hooked!

northern lights over the icehotel in Swedish Lapland

Do you want to discover the magic of the world’s coolest hotel yourself? Browse our collection of  Icehotel holidays, or speak to our travel specialists on 01737 214 250..