Staying in the Ice Hotel (or rather the Ice Hotel complex) and (hopefully) seeing the Northern lights was a present to my husband for his 50th birthday. I did a lot of research and booked through an agency called Discover the World (recommended) as they offered the best value package. However I booked the excursions independently and used a small local company for the dogsledging tours which was excellent (http://www.sleddog.se/) as well as Kiruna Tours for a snowmobile excursion, also very good. However I would not recommend booking excursions with the Ice Hotel directly: the prices are much higher, the tours are shorter and far more crowded. As for staying at the hotel itself it was a mixed experience. The Ice Hotel and the Ice Bar were magical and an amazing experience; we spent one night in what is called Cold Accommodation in one of the Art Suites and although it was expensive it was worth it for the experience; however you do not spend that much time in your room as, at -5C, you do not feel like having some leisure time in bed! You are also woken up at 7.30am as the Ice Hotel is open to the public for visits from 10am to 6pm and there are queues waiting to come in from the moment the doors open; so you end up spending a lot of time in the warm part of the Ice Hotel and, unfortunately, this is a bit of a let down; the common parts are not very comfortable to say the least (no settees, only a few chairs and tables- very minimalistic) and quite busy as it is where all the people staying in the cold rooms gather- and you cannot help feeling that at these prices you could expect more. The sauna and showers are not amazing either and I have seen more impressive gym facilities. In fact, when I used them, there were not even bath towels as they had all been used and not been replaced. As for the warm accommodation itself it is spread out over quite a large area (our bungalow was quite far from the main reception building so be prepared to have to walk for breakfast as the main restaurant is located across the road from it); the room was comfortable and adequate but nothing fancy- very Ikea. The main reception itself has only a couple of settees and quite a poorly stocked cafe/snackbar at the back as well as loud, thumping music being played all day long; also the case in the Ice Bar for that matter. Food at the main restaurant was nice but we definitely preferred the other restaurant, the Homestead, which had far more character; however we found that it was only open in the evening and that you had to walk for nearly 1 km to get there as there is no navette supplied by the hotel. Another point which was a bit annoying was the fact that, although the hotel provides you with an all- in- one suit, boots and gloves for extreme temperatures you are not allowed to wear those if you go on excursions with other tour companies because of the branding. We found this out on the first morning as we were waiting to be picked up by Kiruna Tours; we had to leave our suits in reception and were given other suits by the different tour companies before each excursion; a bit of a nuisance as we were left to walk in -25C temperatures in-between excursions in city boots and coats.
All in all it was a marvellous experience and we were lucky enough to see the Northern lights. But this was due to the scenery, the excursions and of course the fact that the Ice Hotel itself and the Art Suites are a work of art; the hotel amenities, to be frank, were a bit souless and disappointing.
If you spend a night in one of the Art Suites in the Cold Accommodation ask to see the rooms as soon...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.