Far north of the Arctic Circle, in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, a wondrous ice experience waits for visitors. ICEHOTEL has been built in the village each year since 1990, using ice blocks harvested from the Torne River. Every year, for 27 years, the hotel has existed from December through April, until the spring thaw melts it away, returning the water to the river. Until now.
ICEHOTEL 365 has opened, adjacent to and part of the original classic Winter ICEHOTEL. The new permanent destination is designed so that it lasts year-round. There are solar panels harvesting sunshine throughout the summer months and the energy generated operates a refrigeration plant that keeps the new hotel at a constant minus five degrees Celsius. The energy is also available to power offices, restaurants and warm rooms in the complex.
While the classic Winter ICEHOTEL is rebuilt after melting each Spring, ICEHOTEL 365 does not. It is a hybrid construction; partly of ice and partly of concrete. The inner walls are built from blocks of ice, while the outer walls are built of concrete, which is then covered over with a mixture of snow and ice. The structure also features steel pipes which have been drilled the existing permafrost which is located five meters below the ground surface. These pipes keep the indoor temperature at the optimal cold temperature to preserve the ice structure, the snow sculptures and maintain comfortable residential areas. The construction design keeps the cold in and keeps the heat out. Jukkasjärvi enjoys about 100 days of sunshine each year, which makes powering solar panels ideal.
With an eye toward research, ICEHOTEL founder Yngve Bergqvist knows that Sweden will have shorter winters in the future. He also has had visitors every year asking if they could visit his creation during the summer and autumn months. It was important that ICEHOTEL become sustainable year-round, so the 2,100-square meter ice experience was designed and built. It now includes 11 art suites, 9 deluxe suites with private bathrooms and saunas, an ice gallery and an ice bar. In keeping with tradition, the structure was hand carved by global artists, hand selected for the project.
ICEHOTEL offers two categories of rooms: Cold and Warm. In each, guests may choose either an Art Suite or a Deluxe Suite. Art Suites are designed and sculpted by artists from Germany, the UK, the US or Kiruna. Each suite has its own unique theme. The suites have locking doors for privacy, communal toilets, changing rooms and saunas, plus a private changing booth. Beds are made from ice, covered with reindeer skins and thermal sleeping bags. Guests bring their own thermal underwear for sleeping. Luggage is stored in a separate area and moved upon request. Guests are treated to a morning sauna and hot shower session, plus a cup of hot lingonberry juice. The same amenities await guests who select to stay in the Deluxe Suites, with the exception being that sauna, shower and en-suite bathroom are included along with a heated relaxation area.
With a goal of promoting the best interior designs, ICEHOTEL features incredible ice sculptures in each guest accommodation. Though guests cannot select which themed suite they will use, the themes change each year, with approximately 40 artists selected to create new ones. Some of the newest themes and artists include:
- Once Upon a Time by Luc Voisin and Mathieu Brison-elegant and lovely table and chairs are sculpted with art deco designs and placed within a room featuring architectural elements common to the era
- Don’t get lost by Tommy Alatalo- featuring elaborate mazes on the walls, four square pillars in each corner of the room, a maze pattern on the underside wall of the ice bed, and a block maze pillar
- The Victorian Apartment by Luca Roncoroni- the essentials of Victorian architecture sculpted in relief on the ice walls, including a period radiator, a semi-circular headboard flanked by matching nightstands and lamps and wainscot walls
- Kiss by Kestutis Musteikis and Vytautas Musteikis-featuring an etched relief sculpture with a couple embracing
- Wishful Thinking by Marjolein Vonk and Maurizio Perron – an abstract interior filled with contrasting textures and patterns
- Spa relax by Marjolein Vonk and Pia Sandgren- a contemporary en-suite bathroom with muted green walls, natural wood, and large soaking tub
- Dancers in the dark by Tjåsa Gusfors and Patrick Dallard-fanciful costumed characters dance in front constellations in the night sky etched into the ice wall
- You are my Type by John Bark and Charli Kasselbäck- a fanciful room filled with assorted sculpted type fonts realized in individual letters, which stand encircling the bed
- Oh Deer by Ulrika Tallving and Carl Wellander-a striking statue of a large deer is poised at one end of the room
Icebar London, Wild in the Woods
- Designs by Wouter Biegelaar and Jens Thoms Ivarsson
- Building Team included Dave Ruane, Luca Roncoroni, Torgen Johansson and Mattias Eriksson
The bar is the gathering spot for guests, and is filled with an extravagant array of sculptures and etchings of animals and species crates. A bust of a gorilla muses over the bar scene, an etched hippo meanders along a wall followed by a zebra, a pair of etched penguins share a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne, a beautifully crafted and etched, octopus tentacle reaches up the side of an ice pillar, while an intriguing specimen box sculpted from ice included the warnings “Do Not Feed” and “Handle With Care”. A Species X box is carved so that the interior shows a vague image of something furry in 3D. Crocodile jaws edge out from the side of a bar counter. References to London are included in the form of etched, icon street sign locations such as Abbey Road NW8, City of Westminster, Regent Street SW1, and Heddon Street. An iconic carved ice London phone booth is decorated with a penguin etching, while a specimen crate filled with insects sits quietly on the floor. A sculpture of tentacles, owned by a bold octopus, emerges out of a specimen crate over one labeled as “Octopus Eggs”, while a big cat with wild blue eyes stares out from the wall. The entire bar is filled with lighting in blues, purples, reds, oranges, greens and yellows so these colors shimmer through the ice creating a dazzling array.
The ICEHOTEL is built in an arched form, so that the ceilings are high and the construction classically strong. In the winter, the buildings will be completely covered with snow. In the summer, the arched roof, made of glass, will allow summer sunlight to stream through to the interior. At night, entrances to the iconic igloo-like structure are flanked by hewn blocks of ice and torches of fire.
The ICEHOTEL relies on the crystal-clear ice harvested from the Torne River, and each year borrows several tons of this unique ice; which is completely free of cracks and bubbles. It is also pollution-free and perfect for making ice for drinks. The entire ICEHOTEL project is part of a natural and design eco-cycle, which gathers together architects and artists to decide how best to harvest and use the ice.
ICEHOTEL benefits from its natural location. It is also enhanced by man-made light. Lights on trees welcome visitors to the spot, but these cannot compete with the dazzling beauty of the Northern Lights in the sky. The colors of the Aurora Borealis are a specific draw for visitors who wish to stay at this one of a kind, first of its kind hotel.
Art exhibitions of sculpted ice, nighttime snowmobile tours, Warm accommodations for the less hearty, the IceHotel Restaurant and the wild Torne River offer many opportunities to enjoy the destination. Activities including dog sledding, reindeer sledding, horseback riding, fishing, guided tours, viewing the Northern Lights, ice carving lessons, and even scheduling events such as weddings are all possible in this magical place where ICEHOTEL is born and reborn each year when the river rests for winter.
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