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Lapland's Icehotel: Sweden's Artistic Freeze of the Arctic

submitted on 27 November 2023 by

Location, Location, Location

You might think that Lapland, the northernmost part of Sweden, is a rather chilly choice for a holiday destination. And you'd be absolutely right. It's the sort of place where global warming means you only need three pairs of thermal socks instead of four. But, if you're a fan of cutting edge art and design, and you don't mind numb extremities, then get yourself to the Icehotel.

A Brief History of the Icehotel

Founded in 1989 by a man named Yngve Bergqvist, the Icehotel started with a humble igloo in a land filled with reindeer, bears, and moose (oh my!). To attract tourists, Yngve invited them to stay the night in his igloo – and thus, the world's first ice hotel was born. In the years since, the Icehotel has evolved into a veritable art gallery in the Arctic, drawing some of the world's most talented artists to design and sculpt its frozen suites. These days it's a hotel-slash-art exhibition that melts away each spring, only to be rebuilt from scratch the following winter.

An Artistic Collaboration of Numbskulls

Every year, artists from around the globe compete for the chance to come to Lapland and freeze their butts off while creating masterpieces that will be part of the hotel's temporary existence. It's like sculpting Mount Rushmore only to watch it melt into a puddle each year. While you might question their sanity, you have to admire their dedication to their craft.

Brace Yourself: The Hotel's Frozen Features

Aside from the guest rooms, which are frozen works of art themselves, the Icehotel offers a variety of frosty features that would make even Elsa from "Frozen" feel at home:
  • Icebar: Chill out (literally) with a frigid cocktail in a glass made of ice. Don't worry, the bartender is well-versed in frostbite first aid.
  • Ice Church: For the couple who wants to make sure their love never melts away, you can get married in the Icehotel's chapel. It's like saying "I do" inside a frozen wedding cake, though I can't promise the celebrant won't be wearing a parka.
  • Ice Sculpture Studio: Try your hand at creating your own icy masterpiece. Just remember to keep your tongue off the chisel.

How to Survive a Night in the Icehotel

Now, if you're planning to stay at the Icehotel, there are a few tips to bear in mind. Unless you're a polar bear, in which case, you're already well-prepared for the experience:

  1. Layers, layers, layers! There's no such thing as too many clothes here. If you're not sure whether to pack that fifth thermal onesie, trust me – bring it.
  2. Embrace the cold. Accept that you'll be shivering throughout your stay, and just try to enjoy the experience. It helps if you imagine the cold as a giant, icy hug.
  3. Bring a good book, preferably one with lots of pages. You can burn it for warmth if necessary.

Not-So-Frozen Fun: Activities Beyond the Hotel

While the Icehotel is the main attraction, there's more to Lapland than just frostbite and frozen furniture. The region is home to the indigenous Sámi people, who have a rich cultural heritage you can experience through guided tours, traditional meals, and reindeer encounters. Additionally, the area boasts excellent opportunities for dogsledding, snowmobiling, and – if you're really lucky – witnessing the Northern Lights in all their celestial glory.

Booking a Trip to the Icehotel: A Frosty Farewell

Despite the subzero temperatures, a trip to the Icehotel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that's well worth braving the cold for. The combination of unique art installations and bucket-list-worthy Arctic activities make it a holiday you won't forget, though your frostbitten toes might not ever let you.So why not throw caution (and perhaps common sense) to the wind and book that trip to Lapland? Just remember, when you're shivering in your ice bed, that you chose this – and you'll have a heck of a story to tell when you get back home!
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