For 29 whole years miraculous Icehotel has been attracting travelers worldwide to the small village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, filling them with awe. It takes them on a journey through time from the initial 60-m2 igloo, which evolved into a magnificent ice construction, covering an area of 2100 m2!
Amazing though it may seem, Icehotel is a fairy tale that came true because of a river. Without the Torne River, which flows through the area, Icehotel would have remained an impossible dream. It is this river that offers the raw material that made this dream possible—a dream that started as a romantic fairy tale—to become one of the most ambitious endeavors in the world, a mere 200 kilometers from the Arctic Circle.
Almost three decades ago, things were very different in this remote corner of the world. The Jukkas company—the firm behind the Icehotel concept, was aiming at attracting tourism to the area, focusing mainly on the summer months, when the land of the midnight sun offers a wide range of extremely interesting wilderness activities.
During the cold and dark winter, however, when night fell and the river froze over, tourism went into hibernation. At the end of the 80s, a wise—as it turned out—decision was made to expand the tourism potential of the region, transforming its supposed drawback into an advantage. The particularities of the arctic winter were highlighted from a different angle and elevated it into a fascinating life-enhancing experience.
Inspired by Japanese ice sculptors, Jannot Derid opened his exhibition in 1990 in a specially constructed igloo in the middle of the Torne River. The decision of a couple to spend the night in the cylindrical igloo in sleeping bags on reindeer hides and their enthusiastic comments about this new experience the next day, paved the way for the conception of an ingenious and innovative idea for Icehotel.
Icehotel is never the same from one year to the next. With a life span as long as the winter season, it is temporary by definition and it is this sense of the ephemeral that makes the experience even more tempting. Like every year, this year, too, 29-year-old Icehotel will acquire its shape and form from scratch. Artists and creators from all over the world will participate in the creation of this grand collective vision that blends the fundamental principles of architecture with art and modern design.
Construction of the hotel commences in mid-November and takes place part by part. When the first wing is completed, on the first weekend of December, and while the remaining wings are still under construction, Icehotel receives its first guests. The accommodations are finished by January and guests can book rooms until the end of the winter, which lasts until mid-April there.
Even after 29 years since its inception, Icehotel remains an innovative and fascinating concept—one that is absolutely ecological as it co-exists harmoniously with nature. With the interest it piques, the awe it inspires and the charm it evokes, this hotel is a magnet for thousands of modern-day travelers and experience collectors year in year out.
The hotel also has conventional rooms, but staying in an ice room is considered a must, at least for the more adventurous at heart. The sub-zero temperatures in these rooms range from -5οC to -8οC, that is, summer weather in comparison to the polar cold outside. Isothermal clothes, comfortable and cozy sleeping bags and, of course, the thick reindeer fur hides with which the room is furnished warmly envelop the visitor. And so begins a unique night, an unforgettable life experience!
Photo credits: Asaf Kliger, www.icehotel.com