Having grown up in sunny South Africa, I’m half-embarrassed to admit that I’ve never seen snow in person. In fact, I remember sitting around in a sundress every humid Christmas, watching the numerous old classic shows playing on TV.
Naturally, as they were overseas broadcasts, all of the shows featured quaint streets covered in a snowy blanket, with smiling children making snowmen, bundled up in thick jackets, hats, and scarves. My brother and I used to look at each other and laugh, before heading outside to play in the sunshine, or take turns sticking our heads in the freezer in an attempt to re-create a winter wonderland.
So imagine my surprise when I discovered that there are annual hotels created entirely of ice and snow, which are booked out months in advance of their opening! To honour this year’s winter past, we’ve rounded up the top 3 ice hotels, in case you’re interested in trying a novelty vacation:
1. Hôtel de Glace, Duschenay, Canada
Situated in the Canadian Highlands, this fantastical creation is available to guests from early January until mid-March, and never fails to delight those who enter into the frosty rooms. In fact, 2012 saw over 92 000 visitors enter through its icy doors. The “Celsius Pavilion” is the main meeting area, where you’ll be informed of the procedures and precautions to provide you with a comfortable stay. After, you’ll get to sip a cocktail from your own carved ice glass.
With four room types available, you’ll not be disappointed – especially if you pick the top of the range Premium Deluxe Theme Suite with its fireplace and private spa. The coal heater casts flickering shadows on the walls, and creates a fantastical mirage, while illuminating the unique carving above the queen-sized bed. Nordic sleeping bags are provided, which will allow guests to stay nice and toasty up to -30°C.
2. Mammut Snow Hotel, Kemi Snow Castle, Finland
Mammut Snow Hotel is situated within Kemi Snow Castle, in Finland. Here, over 50 decadent ice rooms are carved each year, and while it should be obvious, I’ll state it anyway: all these rooms are non-smoking. There is a large dining hall for guests to indulge in some tasty Finnish treats, though you’ll need to stay in your full winter gear to be able to enjoy the meal.
The hotel is only open from January until April, so book early to secure your spot. Coming here is a-once-in-a-lifetime experience, but you should note the facilities are rather basic, so don’t expect tons of space to store your luggage, as only lockers are provided. The rooms, however, are breathtakingly beautiful, and come with a mattress and scattered furs to keep you warm. If you’re very lucky, you may catch the aurora borealis weaving across the skyline in the late evenings. Be warned, the toilets are all separate from the hotel and on-site cottages, so you may wish to go before changing into your pyjamas.
3. ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
The name Jukkasjarvi is a Sami word meaning “meeting place”, and this frozen wonderland offers a fantastic environment to meet friends or take a well-deserved weekend away! The ICEHOTEL is carved entirely from frozen water from the Torne River, and artists from all over the globe converge here to create majestic masterpieces. The hotel has been operating for 23 years, and originally, it started as a single igloo but quickly grew into the much-loved hotel you’ll find today.
It is recommended that visitors combine a one-night stay at the ICEHOTEL with several nights in much warmer accommodations that are in fairly close proximity. The hotel rooms offer you basic comforts, while the facilities and sculptures are outstanding. The sauna is one of the more popular rooms throughout the year, and while you can laze about, why not try your hand at creating your own ice sculpture, or enjoy a tour of their Ice factory.
Author Bio: Roseanna McBain is a writer for TravelGround, a South African accommodation booking website. She has a fascination with mythology, other cultures, and has a love of all nationalities, and the amazing, diverse scenery the world offers.
Ice Hotel Glace. By Allen’s VISION (Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/peiranliu/3042836999/sizes/z/in/photostream/
The Ice Bar at Jukkasjärvi. By charley1965 (Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/charley1965/2133679371/sizes/l/in/photostream/
One of the themed rooms in the Hôtel de Glace. By Martin Cathrae (Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/suckamc/5561807612/sizes/l/in/photostream/
A wedding at Hôtel de Glace. By Martin Cathrae (Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/suckamc/5561207229/sizes/l/in/photostream/