Inside Sweden’s Latest ICEHOTEL

  • 15 Mar 2013
  • by
  • Hotels and Restaurants
Entrance © Ben Nilsson

It’s an unusual idea – every year a 5,500 square meter hotel is temporarily ‘borrowed’ from Sweden’s River Torne and come spring, the rooms and suites are returned to the river to be washed out to sea. The temporal Swedish is a complex built from ice, with a different design every year. Each winter it hosts guests and houses a collection of bespoke ice-art, created by selected artists from around the globe.

Read more about ICEHOTEL and see pictures of this year’s hotel after the break…

Blue Marine – Artists: William Blomstrand & Andrew Winch © Paulina Holmgren

Ninety percent of the material to construct the ICEHOTEL comes from the river Torne – one of Europe’s last unexploited rivers. The river begins its annual freeze in October, and by March the ice is thick enough for the people of ICEHOTEL to descend upon it and start work, filling their warehouse with 4,000 tonnes of ice-blocks.

Reception – Artists:  Lena Kriström & Susan Christianen © Paulina Holmgren

Stored during the summer, some of these blocks make the walls and furniture of the hotel, which this year has 65 rooms. The structure of the building is made from 30,000 cubic metres of ‘snice’ – a precision engineered snow/ice, made from a mixture of air and river water. Once October arrives, large metal moulds are erected on site and snice is sprayed upon them, hardening and compacting over a few days before the molds are removed. Inside, some 100 people then set to work, they use ice blocks to partition the labyrinthine vaults into rooms, while the artists use begin to create their ice-pieces and sculpted rooms. To ensure quality of constuction, the hotel is opened in sections as it is built, one every weekend throughout December, with the ice chapel opening on Christmas Day.

Building ICEHOTEL © Paulina Holmgren

When the hotel finally opens, it usually sees between 50,000 and 60,000 guests before closing again in mid-April. For those staying in the hotel, bed-time entails wrapping-up in thermal underwear, wooly hats and a sleeping bag, and lying on blocks of ice covered by reindeer hide, safe in the knowledge that thanks to the density and insulating properties of snice their room will never drop below a balmy minus eight degrees Celsius (17ºF).

Dragon Residence – Artists: Dorjsuren Lkhagvadorj & Bazarsad Bayarsaikhan © Paulina Holmgren

ICEHOTEL all started back in 1989, when founder Yngve Bergqvist organized a ice-sculpture workshop to attract tourists to the small village of Jukkasjärvi during the unpopular dark winter months. Their first project was an 60-sqare-metre igloo, named ARTic Hall. The igloo, proved so popular that it was rebuilt annualy, and eventually people started to ask the obvious question; “Can I sleep in it?”  Since then, ICEHOTEL has grown into a worldwide franchise, containing not only the hotel itself, but also a permanent ’warm hotel’, and a litter of ICEBARS, dotted around the globe in cities such as Copenhagen and London, there was even a temporary example in Saharan Niger.

ICEBAR BY ICEHOTEL Jukkasjarvi © Paulina Holmgren

For more, check out last year’s version of the ICEHOTEL here on ArchDaily.

Cite: Rackard, Nicky. "Inside Sweden’s Latest ICEHOTEL" 15 Mar 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>