David won't forget a visit to the Ice Hotel... It's like no other, its freezing, everything is ice and it’s the most original hotel you'll ever stay in.
Located 125kms north of the Arctic Circle, Jukkasjarvi is a window into Europe’s last great wilderness area. The vast northern land has crystal blue lakes, mountains, glaciers, waterfall, fast rivers and extensive forests.
Lapland is a vast region of land that extends across the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Swedish Lapland occupies about half the entire landmass of Sweden. Swedes know the area as Norrland.
The famous Ice Hotel is rebuilt every year and is open from December and April. The peak season is mid-January to April. The hotel is demolished in May.
Everything in the hotel is made from ice, including coffee tables, chandeliers, glasses and even the beds. Guests are provided with cold weather suits and sleeping bags. Beds are draped with reindeer skins to keep you warm at night.
Ice is cut using a special ice saw. It normally takes 6-8 weeks to complete the construction. Some 30,000 tonnes of packed snow and 1200 tonnes of ice are used. Once built the hotel maintains a constant interior temperature of –5 to –7C.
There is no heating in the hotel. Warmth is maintained by burning candles and through the body heat of guests and staff. Clothing is important. You will need robust outdoor clothes that can cope with snow and cold weather. Thermal undewear, jeans, pants, winter jackets, gloves, hats, socks and hiking boots are all essential.
The single storey hotel can accommodate 100 people. Most rooms are of a standard design and can sleep between four and eight people. The floor plan normally includes a bar, sauna, restaurant and a chapel – popular for weddings and christenings.
The only thing lacking is bathroom facilities. These are located in an adjoining building. Despite what would appear to be physical privations, the Ice Hotel last year attracted 3000 guests and over 20,000 visitors.
But if you’re not up to sleeping on an ice bed you can stay at the nearby Wardshuset Inn, a traditional guesthouse which operates all year round. And don't worry about the Ice Hotel collapsing around your ears. The construction has been approved by the Swedish military – their rocket-propelled grenades had little impact on the wall.
The hotel can arrange plenty of daytime activities, including snowmobiling, dog sledding and skiing. Failing that, you can always retreat to the Absolut Ice Bar and have a vodka (or two) in an ice glass!