Took my mum to the ice hotel from 9th-12th Feb. Staying in an ice suite the first night (cold accomodation) and the warm accomodation the following 2 nights. We were in the 'blue marine' room, which was like being inside the Whlale! It was awesome. I was warm as toast and slept like a log. If you follow the hotel instructions you have no need to be concerned about being cold, although, be warned, the toilets are back in the main changing rooms so if you need the loo in the night you have to dash across the outside court yard in your thermals!! We went to the ice bar and stayed up late so were werent sleeping in the cold for too long....and we were full of vodka which also helped! Be careful with you ice glass, I know that sounds silly, but if you hold it in your bare hand it will slip out and you £12 coctail will end up on the floor :(
The main advantage of booking and ice suite as opposed to a snow or ice room is the private cubicle you get to store your clothes and luggage. I think it would have been difficult otherwise because you continually need your alternative clothes, toiletries etc and without a cubicle you are just in an open changing room like being at the swimming pool.
The warm accomodation is basic but very clean and sufficient and the beds are really comfortable. The staff (and people generally) and warm and friendly, the staff were efficent and pleasant and the hotel really is worth all the hype, although trip are a must really cos theres only so many snow angles you can make!
We ate at the Homestead restaurant both evenings which is a 900m walk from the ice hotel (10 mins in snow gear). In -30 temperatures you really need to wear your thermals etc. The dress code on the website says smart / casual for the restaurant dress code, but this was a bit difficult under a pair of ski pants and a snow suite. I took a small ruck sack for a couple of pairs of smart, flat shoes. We ended up putting thermals under loose trousers and a nice jumper and just putting the ski clothes and snow suite in the cloak room. This isnt very big and theres no-where to get changed and all the suits blend into one once they're hung up because they all belong to the ice hotel, so dont leave anything important in the pocket like room keys etc because someone may well go home in your suite!! Also, if the lights appear when your eating there will be a stamped to get out to see them.....leave your suit nearest the end pegs so you can grab it quick! You can't stand outside without it even for a few seconds to see the lights......believe me i tried!!
There is a very old church near the homestead restraunt, the oldest in Sweden i think, which is worth looking at (open 9-3) and a little cafe and sami museum with reindeer you can feed. You can get a nice cheap cup of tea and coffee and the gifts are cheaper than the ice hotel. You have to pay £15 entry to go into the Sami museum if you want to feed the reindeer, but its interesting and feeding the reindeer is great fun (open 10-5). This would be a much better and cheaper way to do it than going on the sami / reindeer trip from the ice hotel. I didnt do this trip, but the comments other people have made seemed to suggest it wasnt worth the money and this is walking distance from the hotel.
Trip wise, I booked all our trips with Kiruna guidetur before we set off. They are half the price of the ice hotel and twice the duration. We booked a huskey sled from the airport and were then shown around where the huskey are kept...we saw all the 3 and 4 month old pups.....very cute. You get to drive your own 2 person sled this way. If you have a 4 person sled, people were complaining it was uncomfortable to sit on. With a 2 person one of you drive and the other sits. The dogs sort their selves out, you just have to hold on and press the break if need be, so no commands or stearing to learn, very easy. We couldnt go into our cold accomodation until 7pm as the hotel is open for visitors anyway, so this was a great way to kill some time prior to the room being ready. Much better than being in the initial crush for snow suites and checking in.
The following day we went to the Moose park in Vitangi in the morning and to the aurora sky station in the evening. Again, both booked through Kiruna guideturs. The moose park was lovely, we had homemade salmon soup for lunch and got to feed the Moose bannanas!
The aurora sky station was amazing. We booked a 3 course dinner and a trip to the station. The ski chairs are quite high up and the down ward journey is a bit hair raising but well worth it. Make sure you are WELL wrapped up because you'll want to lie in the snow to look at the ski.
When booking this trip there 3 options, just the sky station, the sky station with 3 courses in the bottom restaurant and the 3 courses in the ski station. If you can afford the extra, go to the top to have the food. On all 3 night we were there, the northern lights were visable while people were eating the 3 course meal at the top. This also mean you are taken up to the viewing station earlier so have more time up there. We didnt get to the sky station until nearly 9pm.
The following day we did the high mountain snow mobile tour. This was an hour- hour and a half drive in to Swedens highest mountain where we were given our snow mobiles. The scenery en route was breathtaking and we saw wild reindeer and wild mouse while we were driving to the snow mobiles. The guides who took us on this tour (Andreas and his father neils) have owned the land for generations and were really proud of their land and family. The snow mobiles were immaculate and we felt really safe. There was only 4 of us on the tour, so like a private tour really....much better than 50+ people with the ice hotel. We did ice fishing - dont be put off by this, it was 10 mins of holding a rod through a hole drilled in the ice.....and a fish was caught! We were given tea and cake on the way out and reindeer burgers from LapDanalds on the way back. Best burger ive EVER had and no horse meat in sight! We had a little quiz to do while we waited for lunch, which included a prize for the winner. Brilliant tour, would definately recommend it.
Finally we went on a horse draw sleigh (again Kiruna guideturs). We were driven across the frozen River Torne river to a little stables were a native bred pony towed us round the local forrest and back across the frozen river during dusk and into the darkness. It was breath taking, just like narnia and a lovely peaceful way to see the scenery local to the hotel.
So to summarise, book the tours through Kiruna much cheaper and really grate standards. They meet all the requirement for the Discover the World insurance (I checked) and you just book on line, absolutely painless. The only think you need to be aware of is you can't wear ice hotel snow suites outside the hotel with other companies, but they provide you with these anyway..in fact they insisted when we went snowmobiling so we werent cold.
Clothes wise...You need to wear- 2 pairs of ski socks, 2 sets of therma base layer (trousers and tops), 2 mid layer (couple of fleece jumpers) and then an outedr layer (ski suit) and then the snow suite over the top. You need 3 pairs of gloves,(silk base pair, warm mid pair and then a pair of mittens....these are a pain). Make sure your boots are too big so you have space for air once your socks are on, otherwise your toes will be cold. Hand and feet warmers and cheaper on amazon or ebay if you buy more than 10 pairs. All the base equiment we used was from Aldi or decathlon and is adequate quality, you dont need to sent £300 on a goose down coat! We took some vaseline and put this around our mouth and nose, it stopped our nostril and lips freezing through the ballaclavas. They freze with your breath, so a spare is a good idea and hat with ear flaps is a MUST.
Take lots of batteries, keep these warm otherwise you'll have no photos, we put a hand warmer in the camera case which worked a treat. If they batteries die, warm them in your hands and they'll work again. Incidentally, my i-phone was amazing, it didnt stop working once.
If your servious about the northern lights and photos and things, the aurora viewing platform at the ice hotel looks straight out onto the frozen river and is pitch black. I was told the bast time to see them is on a new moon (as its really dark) and obviously when its clear. The lights are mean to peak in 10 year cycles and this year is currently a peak. We saw the lights all 3 nights we were there.
Wrap up warm....layers, layers, layers...There's so much more to this place than the hotel.
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- Also Known As:
- Icehotel Hotel Jukkasjarvi
- Icehotel Sweden/Jukkasjarvi
- Ice Hotel Sweden