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“Camping under ice!”
Review of Kirkenes Snowhotel

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Kirkenes Snowhotel
Certificate of Excellence
Beaconsfield, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
39 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Camping under ice!”
Reviewed August 27, 2012

As another reveiewer said, one for the bucket list!

It looks glorious - like nothing you will ever see again. Every room has wonderful ice carvings and an other-wordly feel as it's lit by ropes of blue LED lights. It's also quite a lot bigger than I expected, with 20+ rooms - each totally unique. The ice bar is quite small but, when we there, it had the most extraordinary ice carvings; including a chandelier made from hand carved flat wavy icicles. It is a constant 5% below freezing, which means you'll be in your padded suit all the time apart from changing for bed (fast!). A fellow travellor left a glass of water on the floor overnight, and the water in it froze solid and the glass froze to the floor! Don;'t leave clothes loose on the floor either, as they will also freeze. An overnight bag was fine though. They provide warm storage for suitcases and all the warm gear you need, apart from thermals.

Sleeping here is a very strange experience. Your bed frame is made from ice with a rather hard (foam?) mattress inside. You sleep in your thermals inside an artic sleeping bag wearing mittens and a balaclava. Very weird. And the lights stay on all night, so it won't be the most comfortable nights sleep you've ever had. Take an eye mask if you can.

The facilities are about 100 yards down a path to the 'warm room'. So use them before retiring, or you will have to unzip your sleeping bag, get into your padded suit, put on boots and a woolyl hat, grab a torch and leg it across a wooden bridge! And back! About 20 % of visitors don't make it bac.k, but they do provide a couple of sofas in the warm room, also tea and coffee. This also where the shared showers and saunas are.

The restaurant is in another building, so you'll get some practice getting in and out of your padded suit etc. The room is WARM, as it's lit by an open fire. Food is good, if pretty basic.

People very rarely stay 2 nights. There was a rumour that the 2nd night is free! And you leave with a survivors certificate.

We also did the dog sledding in the afternoon, which was incredible. The dogs are very friendly and very enthusiastic.

Strange, expensive and uncomfortable it may be, but it is an enjoyable, out of this world experience and I wouldn't have missed it.

Room Tip: All rooms are good.
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Jacqui H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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245 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (51)
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
139 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
Reviewed July 19, 2012

This was a once in a lifetime experience. Not only did we spend a night at the hotel, but we went snowmobiling there as well. We did have a package that included our meals, snowmobiling and our night at the hotel. I can't express what excellent service we received from all the staff...from our bus driver that picked us up in town, to our cook at dinner, the folks that helped out the equipment building but most of all...Kora was the most incredible host!. We had our choice of rooms as we were there the 20th of January. The rooms were a hoot and the crowberry toast was fun. The lighting in the hotel is perfect. We were amazed at the detail in the carvings on the wall. The beds were really confy and the sleeping bags were top notch sub zero bags. We even got hot during the evening and had to unzip. Yes there is a hike to the potties...in your boots and long underwear but like I said...this is a once in a lifetime experience so what the heck. Perhaps our favorite photo we took, was of the smoke detector on our wall right next to the door....just stuck in the ice on a nail. I was so pleased that we booked our snowmobiling with them as it was truly magical. As it was 2 in the afternoon it was pitch dark. The only lights were on our snowmobiles. It looked like Walt Disney himself had created the scene we rode through with glittering trees and animals. It wasn't a short trip either. We were out for around 4 hours. We stopped for warm cider and later for a lovely late lunch at a wonderful little house on the path. Was it cheap? NOPE. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY worth every penny we spent....oh ya, and the nothern lights were great too.

Room Tip: dont go expecting luxary...go with a knowledge that this is a once in a lifetime evening.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank pilotgal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 23, 2012

I have a certificate to boast that I survived a night at the Snowhotel, but it was a great experience rather than a survival. The suites are well decorated with ice sculptures and themed. Lighting is not adjustable so I slept with an eye mask. At breakfast there was a great buzz from other "survivors" talking about their experiences and of course, the all elusive Northern Lights that made our evening extra special.

  • Stayed February 2012
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Helpful?
1 Thank EugeneL3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 15, 2012

I had the best time here! The staff who looked after us at the restaurant, both breakfast and dinner, were warm and friendly and took time to answer all our questions and they really enhanced our trip. At breakfast the staff (Svetlana??) was lovely and explained about how the fish was prepared. Some of the comments here are a little unfair - my only criticism would be that the staff are clearly overworked but that seems to be a management problem which could easily be solved by more staff.

The snowhotel carvings are beautiful and I had no problems sleeping. And of course the husky trip was phemonenal!!

All in all - an amazing experience that is once in a lifetime.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank BM16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bewdley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
202 reviews
85 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 373 helpful votes
Reviewed April 4, 2012

I only visited the Snow Hotel during the day rather than spending the night here so I have given it an average score so as not to affect the scores of people who have stayed here, however In my opinion it only deserves poor at best.

I have visited and stayed at several ‘Ice hotels’ and this is by far the worst, the whole arrangement seems to be a simple tourist trap designed to make as much money as possible for the least amount of cost. for example, the gift shop had nothing to sell that was actually branded with the snow hotel accept for one type of postcard depicting the hotel as it was several years ago. Everything else was generic and could be bought anywhere else in Norway for much less.

The hotel has an open reception/ice bar area with nowhere to sit and they don’t seem to bother with making ice glasses instead using disposable plastic cups. This room leads to two wings of bedrooms, the rooms all follow a theme and are pretty similar in design and style, with little in the way of imaginative lighting to really bring out the details. Most of the carving is done in the snow of the walls rather than in the ice which is much quicker and easier to do but also melts away more quickly. By mid March the inside of the Hotel was already getting above freezing, despite this the various guides insisted that it was always -4°C inside the hotel. Whilst we were in the hotel several guided groups were rushed through by different not especially interested guides who gave out often conflicting ‘facts’ about the hotels construction etc.

The staff did not seem to be completely with it and were not very helpful either. Although it could be that we and the various tour parties were just getting in their way whilst they were trying to prepare for the next set of guests.

Most of the people there were visiting the hotel from the Hurtigruten and had paid a lot of money for a short excursion, we just ordered a taxi from the ship and made our own way to the hotel, doing it this way is much cheaper and you can also fit in the Russian border post at the same time if you want to. You can order a taxi from the ship but make sure you have the number to call them to pick you back up again.

The hotel has a large separate wooden dining area with a big open fire in the middle which is likely to be the focus of any stay here until you are ready to go to sleep. I’m sure that you could get a good night’s sleep here, the beds were comfortable and they use the standard four season sleeping bags that I have used at other Ice hotels and out in the open wilderness; however the question is would it be worth it? In my opinion it is not, by all means visit the hotel to look around and have a meal at the restaurant but stay at one of the local hotels where you will get a much better deal.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank TWMC2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oxton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed April 1, 2012

I visited here in March 2010 with a couple of friends and stayed overnight having first eaten in the Gabba restaurant. We had the best time, and would recommend that anyone thinking of paying a visit should do so and stay over. If you are put off by the temperature, I can assure you it really isn't as bad as you may think. This could be due to a few wines before but it's mainly to do with the arctic sleeping bags which are kept in a warm room until you are ready for bed, and these really keep you warm all night. To give you some indication, I slept from 12 midnight until 7.40am!
If you want to see more, check out "stories for life" on the visitnorway.com website which has also been uploaded to youtube.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank JTay47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
60 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
Reviewed March 28, 2012

I agree with previous comments, that is is good but could be better.
Compared with other Ice Hotels, it is rather back packer 'ish'.
Arrangements were well organised with excursions & safe storage of main luggage at a nearby hotel. We just took an overnight bag to the Snow Hotel.

The manager was very friendly, chatty & helpful. On arrival we were given our rooms & encouraged to view the other rooms too. There is an ice bar which I thought would have been used more, but really it is just a feature in the main entrance.

We were then shown around to the warm lounge, showers, restaurant. We then went to collect our arctic sleeping bags, socks, mittens & balaclava's.

Before dinner the manager gave a friendly & amusing demonstration on how to get the best night's sleep, which was fairly logical really. The only problem for the ladies is that if you want to go to the loo during the night you have to walk to the warm block to the toilet: so out of your sleeping bag, get dressed, then undressed to get back in your sleeping bag.

We cruised up the Norwegian coast before arriving at Kirkenes in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights to no avail. On arrival at the Snow Hotel, the weather was so clear we stayed up pretty late and saw a magnificent display. The reason for telling you all this is because we made sure we went to the loo several times before going to bed. I managed to get vey cosy in my sleeping bag and was asleep in no time & fortunately didn't have to get up to go to the loo.

We used the shower in the morning, there was just one shower each for men & women & one toilet, I do think there should have been more washing facilities. There were plenty of clean towels & toiletries. The warm room was somewhere open all night where you could make a hot drink with sofa's - which are pretty cheap looking. Considering the cost of staying I do thing that this area along with the showering facilities is pretty basic and really needs much revamping.

Back to dinner, as others have said the Gabba restaurant is warm & cosy, you do have to heat up your own reindeer sausage & main course salmon & cod, with ice cream & warm berries for dessert. Clearly this menu doesn't change. The food is perfectly acceptable. The restaurant closes at 12 midnight, as mentioned we stayed up late watching the Northern Lights display until about 1pm.

We had to laugh, before we had even gone to bed some of the older people staying there had already got up having only lasted a few hours in their ice room & slept somehow in the warm room. To be honest they were continually moaning (even before we reached the Snow Hotel) & it baffles me why they chose to stay the night in the first place. What were they expecting.

Breakfast was from 7.30am (I think) & we were not allowed in until they were ready. It was a buffet, the warm bread was delicious. The usual, cereal, eggs, ham, salmon, cheese, juice tea & coffee & fruit.

It was an experience made all the more memorable as we saw a spectacular display of Northern Lights.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Kim9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kirkenes Snowhotel

Property: Kirkenes Snowhotel
Address: Sandnesdalen 14, Kirkenes 9915, Norway
Location: Norway > Northern Norway > Finnmark > Sor-Varanger Municipality > Kirkenes
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Kirkenes
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:1 star — Kirkenes Snowhotel 1*
Number of rooms: 34
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Snow is a gift from the sky. Cold, still, pure and beautiful. Welcome to Kirkenes Snowhotel. To a world where you sleep in snow, walk on snow and may drive a scooter or a dogsled on snow. We even serve snow in the restaurant! Our romantic Snowhotel opens December 20th., and is open until April 20th. Kirkenes Snowhotel lies secluded in the wilderness 8 km outside Kirkenes. Here 180 huskies await you. Reindeer are grazing behind our unique chalets. Under the fjord ice, the giant King crabs dwell. When the northern lights are dancing, they illuminate the surroundings with their green and yellow colors. If you come - we change you. ... more   less 
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