Despite the cold weather that winter brings, it certainly has a beautiful side. Glistening white layers of snow and frosted icicles make for wonderful scenery, and this concept has been used to create some of the most unusual tourist destinations. Here are some of the coolest ice hotels, taking their inspiration from the beauty of nature.
1. Icehotel, Sweden
Ice hotel is world’s first and largest hotel built out of snow and ice. For the last three decades, the hotel has melted and been reincarnated in a new way each winter, so it looks different every year and has brand new art to experience. During November and early December every year, the empty space on the riverbank turns into a magnificent hotel made of ice and snow, where cosy thermal sleeping bags and reindeer hides keep you warm on the carved ice beds. You can also enjoy outdoor activities, drinks at the Ice Bar and fantastic art exhibitions. The Icehotel is also nearby Abisko, one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights.
2. Snowhotel Kirkenes, Norway
Snowhotel Kirkenes is located 8km outside Kirkenes, in the secluded wilds of Northern Norway. It offers guests the true feel of arctic wilderness in suites decorated with themes of Arctic culture and nature. After your husky taxi straight from the airport, pulled by a few of their 180 beautiful huskies, you can try an Arctic King Crab fishing tour on the fjords, say hello to the Reindeer grazing behind the chalets, drive a snowmobile or dogsled, or hop on the Aurora Express with an expert guide to search for the Northern Lights. The cosy restaurants serve locally-sourced ingredients and plenty of tea and coffee.
3. Ice Hotel, Japan
The Ice Hotel is located within the Ice Village in Hokkaido, Japan. Open between mid-January and the end of February each year, it consists of one sub-zero dome eight metres wide and four metres high and made completely of ice. There is just the one room available, and the lucky guests receive a shruff (sleeping bag) to keep cosy at night, and a bowl of soup for breakfast. There is also a hot spring bath, and hot drinks offered in the Ice Lounge. Elsewhere in the Ice Village you you can watch weddings in the ice church, eat cheese fondue in the frozen café, play on the ice-carved slide, skate on the ice rink or curl up by the fire in the library.
4. Iglu-Dorf, Switzerland
Iglu-Dorf has several Igloo-villages and every year new ones are created. This year there are four in Switzerland, one in Germany and one in Austria. Facilities and attractions vary throughout the locations, for example at the Zermatt village you can lie in a whirlpool and gaze at the Matterhorn, while at Zugspitze you can look down on Germany, Austria and Switzerland from one viewpoint. In Zermatt, hotel rooms range from the basic ‘Family & Friends Igloo’ that houses up to six guests with sleeping bags, to luxurious suites that include amazing artwork, hot tubs and private bathrooms.
5. Arctic SnowHotel, Finland
The Arctic SnowHotel is one of the largest in the Nordic region with around 30 rooms for up to 70 guests. The first SnowHotel was opened in December 2008 and since then a new impressive building has been carved each year, always different in appearance. The walls and furniture surfaces of the rooms are decorated with ice art and illuminated artwork, and whilst room temperatures are 0–5C°, quality sleeping bags and reindeer furs make it cosy and warm.