Well, I didn’t think I was going to end up staying at the Icehotel, Sweden. I had tried to get a reservation, I really had. But all the rooms were booked, even three weeks before my stay. I was bummed because it looked like it would be such a unique experience. But, as I scrolled through the website, I found out that the hotel offers tours of the complex. “Ok, ” I thought, “Problem solved. I’ll just book a hotel near by and visit the ice hotel while I am in the area.”.
In order to get to Jukkasjärvi, Sweden (talk about a mouthful), you can drive, fly, or take a train. I choose the train option for a couple of reasons. First of all, there was no way i was going to drive myself up through Sweden, in the ice and snow. I had visions of plummeting to my doom, over the side of a cliff, in a fiery explosion.
So with visions like this in my head, I choose the train option. Basically, the train was way cheaper than a flight. So, I booked my round trip train tickets, from Stockholm to Kiruna, three weeks in advance. I did this because I was terrified that the train tickets would sell out rather quickly. So, just to be safe, I booked them on auroral.com and had them delivered to my house.
Now, while the train does take about 20 hours, they do have an overnight train from Stockholm to Kiruna. This option appealed to me because while I paid $300 for the round trip train ticket, I also effectively saved money by sleeping on the train and not booking a hotel room for two nights (pro-tip: This is why I try and book overnight trains as much as possible).
Flying to Kurina is a good option if you are short on time. The flight takes about ninety minutes and runs daily between Stockholm and Kiruna. Once you arrive at Kiruna Airport, you can get to the hotel by car, taxi, or a transfer through the Ice hotel itself
Rad Tip: There are transfers, to the train station and airport, available for free through the hotel. Book in advance because they fill up fast).
So, back to my story. While I was waiting at the train platform, the train happened to be delayed by an hour. Naturally, I got bored and cold waiting around outside. As a result, I started chatting with a woman by the name of Danielle (Danielle, if you’re reading this I love you!!! You’re the best.). Through the course of the conversation, we realized that we were both originally from New York and had a lot in common.
Well, we got along so well that she invited me to stay with her at the Ice hotel. I immediately said yes because I mean, how many times in your life do you get to stay at an Ice Hotel? I was so stoked. But also a little scared of how cold it would be. I mean, we were going above the arctic circle. I had visions of my eyes freezing open and just not closing shut.
But no. It really was’t that cold. And on top of that, the Ice Hotel Sweden provides you with all the equipment you need. They have everything from boots, to snow pants, to hats, and gloves.
Therefore, don’t feel like you have to buy a whole new wardrobe just to go on this trip. I know I’m not Richie Rich and saved a lot of money borrowing the clothes they had. But, if you really need to buy something, they have all the cold weather apparel you need at the gift shop. I of course needed nothing, and ended up buying a hat and gloves. But I regret nothing, until I saw my bank account.
Oh, and bring some hand and foot warmers. When you are standing outside or dog sledding,
Rad Tip: So much fun but do NOT sit in the front. The dogs get a high fat diet and poop and fart a lot when they run. And you don’t want those noxious fumes in your face!!
Your feet can get really cold because you’re not moving around. The foot and hand warmers are a great way to keep your extremities warm and your adventures more enjoyable.
So, this hotel is super cool (pun intended). It is the largest ice hotel in the world. There are actually two separate buildings with ice rooms. Some of the rooms have electronic, key card locks on the doors, and some just have a curtain over the door.
Ask before you make a reservation because I know I was glad I had a room with a key card. They also have warm rooms that you can stay in if spending the night in the Icehotel is just not your thing.
Each cold room has a theme, with intricate carvings that appear to leap out of the ice. And since there are lights in each of the rooms, the ice shimmers and sparkles with its glowing reflection. Our room had jellyfish that appeared to float in the air. The figures were so life-like and exquisite that it felt like they could breathe out the cold, arctic air.
If you stay at the hotel, you don’t have to buy a ticket for the ice hotel tour. Take some time and marvel at the architectural wonder of this palace of ice. All the rooms have different themes that are not to be missed. And because the hotel is open for tours, you can’t check into your room until 6:00pm anyway. For this reason, you have ample time to stroll through all the rooms, take pictures, and savior all the cavernous wonders. As I explored the hotel, I became astounded by the sheer artistry embodied in this glacial structure.
Because you can’t enter your room until 6:00pm, there is a storage area for your luggage. So if you arrive early, you can store your luggage and head into the large changing area, to put on some warmer clothes. They also have showers and saunas in here if you need to get clean and warm up.
You cannot bring any luggage into your room, so there is a changing room that corresponds to your room number. The changing room is big enough for two people, so don’t worry about not having enough room for all your stuff.
The only time you go into the ice room, is right before you go to bed. To sleep, they provide you with a sleeping bag and liner. And there is a real bed with a mattress that has reindeer fur on it. The sleeping bag goes on top of the bed and retains your body heat, to help keep you warm. Therefore, you only need a layer or two of clothing to sleep in.They also ask they you do not shower or use the sauna three hours before you go to sleep. This way, your body has time to return to its natural temperature and you can stay warm in the sleeping bag.
When you are ready for bed, make sure you sign your name on the list at the front desk. This list is for people who want to receive a certificate for surviving the night in the hotel. The paper will indicate your name, the date, and how cold it was both inside and outside the room. It’s really a neat souvenir to have.
Little did I know, the best part was yet to come. Because the hotel is toured during the day, you receive a wake up call around 8:00 am. But it isn’t just any wake up call. A hotel receptionist wakes you up personally and gives you a nice cup of warm lingonberry juice. Honestly, it is truly a personal, homey touch that makes you feel like you are a part of their family.
After you wake up, head across the street for a luxurious breakfast buffet. There are cascades of fruit, yogurt, bread, cheese, eggs, and pancakes. The aromas are heavily and fill you up body and soul, after such a bone chilling night in the hotel.
Now, that being said, there is not much in the way of food in this tiny town. There is a grocery store and one restaurant, and that’s about it. The restaurant serves a lot of reindeer and moose, so bring some food with you just in case. Also, check out is at 10 am but you can leave your luggage in the changing room until 6:00pm.
So in case you couldn’t tell, I had the time of my life and highly recommend this trip to anyone.
Rad Tip: really crowded with foreign tourist so book well in advance.
It was even better because I went around Christmas and really felt as though the landscape captured the true spirit of the Christmas season. It’s like someone just picked you up and placed you in Santa’s playground. I was truly sad to leave this magical winter wonderland and journey back into my reality.
For more information and how to book head to Icehotel.com
Feature image credit: Asaf Kliger