This week let’s explore a frigid region of Sweden. In Jukkasjarvi, Sweden a hotel made out of ice is constructed every Fall and melts every Spring. The hotel is a combination of engineering and art creating a breathtaking sight.
Preparation for the hotel starts early. In March, workers start harvesting ice from the river Torne. The harvested ice is crystal clear because the flow of the river ensures there are very few bubbles in the blocks. They store ice and snow in a warehouse until it is needed later in the year. A lot of supplies are collected, but some snow and ice have to be machine made when construction occurs.
Construction usually takes about two months. Due to the dependence on nature, delays and setbacks are common. While the structure is completely made of ice and snow, metal casts are needed to build. The forms are reused every year to create the basic layout of the hotel. The mortar used in construction is something the engineers call snice. It is a mix of snow and ice that has the perfect material properties for building. If the snice layers are thick enough, it will have the same strength as concrete. Once it is built up, the forms are removed to reveal the rooms.
When the basic construction is complete, the artists start their job. They sculpt everything needed in each room from all of the furniture to additional artwork. Artists from around the world add their own flair, making the rooms vary in style.
When everything is finished the hotel has over 60 guest rooms, several suites, a lobby, bar and theater. The interior is kept at -5oC to -8oC, quite warm compared to the possible outside temperature of -370C. Fiber optic and diode lighting is used throughout the hotel creating a blue-green glow. Some say the hotel is made of magic because it is hard to believe something so perfectly beautiful is manmade.
This engineering feat is a great reason to travel. To get to the Ice Hotel, fly into the Kiruna airport and take a short drive to Jukkasjarvi. You can stay in one of the ice rooms, or in a heated room in one of their other buildings. Many recommend spending most of your time in a heated room and one night, to get the full experience, sleeping in a sleeping bag in the Ice Hotel. During the day, all of the guest rooms are open and you can tour around the hotel and enjoy the art. Then at night the guests have access to their personal rooms.
While there is a bar inside the hotel, the restaurant is in a separate heated building. It offers a wide selection for every meal. There is also an independent restaurant, the Homestead, located on the main road if you want to venture out of the complex.
The Ice Hotel is also a great destination for viewing the northern lights. You cannot depend on the northern lights illuminating the sky, but if the conditions are right you will have a first class view.
This is a unique hotel for a unique climate, and I hope one day I am able to make the trip.