We have just had three brilliant days at the Ice Hotel. We spent one night in the cold accommodation and two nights an Arctic Chalet and have thoroughly enjoyed everything.
For anyone worried about the cold itself I should say that I hate the cold and am prone to moaning at anything approaching freezing - but I have really enjoyed my experience. You will be provided with a warm polar suit, snowboots, a balaclava and gloves. Wear loads of layers underneath (we did invest in some thermal base layers before we went and were glad we had) and make sure you have a good hat. After three days I was getting quite blase about temperatures of -10.
The Ice Hotel itself is a beautiful work of art. Sleeping in its -5 degree accommodation is quite an experience - you will feel a sense of achievement the next morning. It is a very well thought out operation. Anyone who spends a night in the cold accommodation will have access to the warm dressing room which has lockers, toilets, showers and a sauna - all very nicely maintained. There is also a cosy sitting area where you can read or make use of the free wi-fi. I would strongly advise splashing out on an art suite a) because you will get a unique room created by an artist and b) because you will get a small changing cubicle in which you can keep your luggage and have enough space for a couple of you to change clothing. It affords a little extra level of privacy which we appreciated. Staff give you good advice about sleeping in the cold and you are provided with sleeping bags. (You can choose single or double sleeping bags - there are advantages and disadvantages to both - I appreciated my husband's warmth in our double - but every time one of us turned over it generated a cold blast of air!). You will be woken around 7.30 with a welcome warm fruit juice. Plenty of time then for a sauna or straight to the buffet breakfast which has a reasonable amount of choice including yoghurt, cereal, cooked breakfast, cheese, meats, bread.
Our Arctic Chalet was a relatively basic wooden hut but had two bedrooms, a little kitchenette/main room with table and chairs and bathroom/shower. It isn't luxurious but it is fine. I didn't mind the shower which was a bit basic but my husband happily wandered off to the warm dressing room to get a sauna and shower. The key thing is that the chalet was very warm and the bed very cosy and comfortable. You hardly need to spend any time in it anyway. There is a lovely bar area and lounge in the main building where you can read, play games (some chess sets and scrabble are available) or have a drink.
There are two restaurants. The Old Homestead is about 10 minutes walk and serves slightly more rustic food than the Ice Hotel restaurant which is just across the road from main reception. Both are not cheap options - in fact the Ice Hotel restaurant is extremely expensive for dinner - you will be paying close to London top end prices. Food is very good but not quite worthy of the prices. If you are vegetarian prepare for a relatively limited choice but it's fine if you are only here for a few days. The Ice Hotel restaurant also provides a buffet lunch for about £13 which we thought was pretty good value. There is a small convenience store a short walk away.
You won't be short of activities while here. We chose a visit to a Sami camp to learn about reindeer and have a go at reindeer sledding, a short husky sled and an evening snowmobile trip with a three course dinner in a wilderness camp. We thoroughly enjoyed everything. Really exhilarating stuff in a landscape that is breathtakingly beautiful. Some of the excursions provide food. I let them know that I was vegetarian when we booked the trips as part of our package. I re-checked at the hotel and was glad I had - one of trips hadn't got the message that I was vegetarian, but it was all easily sorted out and I enjoyed my wilderness dinner.
We thought service everywhere was very efficient and pleasant, most staff seem genuinely cheerful and all were very helpful.
There is no doubt that this is a very expensive holiday. Most people seemed to be there for significant birthdays or weddings. It is one of those holidays where you do have to accept that it is difficult to shave costs and just grit your teeth about the expense. It is probably a once in a lifetime experience so worth doing it well (although nearly everyone we spoke to, ourselves included, were already talking about the "next time").
Go with the right expectations and you could quite honestly have the experience of a lifetime - I certainly have.
- Also Known As:
- Icehotel Hotel Jukkasjarvi
- Icehotel Sweden/Jukkasjarvi
- Ice Hotel Sweden