What is it like to sleep in an ice hotel in Sweden?

By Abi King | North Europe

Jan 28
The stunning ice hotel in Sweden via @insidetravellab

Flower ice bed

Why would you sleep in an ice hotel?

Why would you sleep in an ice hotel?
Because it is beautiful.
Because it is like sleeping in art. And waking with poetry.

Introducing the Ice Hotel

The Ice Hotel in Kiruna, Sweden is a masterpiece in glacial sculpture. Built and then dissolved by the sun each year, it’s a feat of snowy engineering and a mesmerising one at that.

Rooms vary in their level of sophistication. Some are straightforward. Others, gothic horror, James Bond, abstract art and iced floral wildernesses.

One year, a full size front carriage from a London Underground tube train stood in in a state of frozen bedroomness.

Sleeping in an ice sphere

Ice Hotel Professionals

Sculptors fly in from all over the world each year, work hard and then fly away.

And as a side note, just how cool (ahem!) would it be to announce that as your job title at customs? Ice builder extraordinaire.

So that’s the ice part, but what about the hotel?

Well, common sense does prevail for most and you only actually spent one night sleeping on the ice. Most guests stay for 3 nights (but you can stay for more) and spend the other two in the modern, sweet timbered, heated hotel building a short walk away.

And when the temperature is minus 40, you need any walk to be short.

Get married in an ice chapel

What do you need for a night in an ice hotel?

The Ice Hotel kits you out with all the outer garments you need: body suit, giant boots, gloves the size of a floppy leather tennis racquet. But when it comes to sleeepy time, only you’re advised to keep it light.

A training session advises you to sleep in thermals – and to remember to go to the toilet before you go to bed.

Couples are advised to snuggle together beneath one sleeping bag atop the reindeer skin.

Singletons are encouraged to find a couple.

Above the ice rooftops

More Tips for Sleeping in an Ice Hotel

Everyone seems to make a beeline for the icy vodka bar, with one or two shots (no more) to ease the transition into slumber. (And it’s spirits only, I’m afraid. Beer and wine freeze in a bar like this.)

The final tip is to thoroughly wear yourself out in the day through a combination of husky sledding, snowmobiling, cross country snow shoeing and even a spot of chatting to Rudolph by spending time with reindeer.

Morning arrives with a member of staff bringing you a glass of hot lingonberry (oh, yes, there are no doors here) and I was so warm and cosy I dozed off and had to be woken again.

By day, the place is an art museum and a coach load of tourists wanted to come in.

So, I grabbed on all the outerwear and headed to my first ice-sculpting class.

Well, everyone has to start somewhere.

Disclosure – I visited the Ice Hotel Sweden as a guest of Discover the World, the only UK company to offer direct flights from London to Kiruna, skipping the usual stopover in Stockholm. All views, photos and dreams about poetry remain my own. As ever. As always.

The adventure of staying in an Ice Hotel in Sweden via @insidetravellab


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • Kirsten says:

    I too have a weakness for the color blue and would love the ice hotel for that reason. But I am sure there would be other reasons as well! Beautiful images, Abi!

    • Abi King says:

      Yes! The words are coming! But – sigh – I just love the pictures so much!

  • agentcikay says:

    Yes yes I would.. but only if they return me to the tropics by the end of the week… hahaha!

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