302: Tango Art Suite

Kiruna Travel Blog

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“Dance back in time to Buenos Aires and witness the birth of the Tango. The infinite pulse of the passionate dance is momentarily captured in ice and snow.” - Tango Art Suite ICEHOTEL 2008 The Tango suite was created by Lelé Trabb & Laura Marcos of Argentina. This was their first opportunity at creating an ICEHOTEL suite and I was very impressed with their work. They specialize in sculpting out of marble, wood, cement, and resin materials and like to work in snow and plastics as well.

After our few hour spree during the first day, running around taking photos of all of the rooms, the Tango Art Suite was one of the select Art Suites that had jumped out at us as being potentially awesome to stay in.

We wanted to prolong the suprise so we didn’t request a specific room and didn’t ask the Ice Hotel receptionist which room we had until the Wednesday during check-in for the ice room. As fortune would have it, we got the Tango Art Suite and it was a great selection.

“Don’t worry you’ll sleep fine” was one of the comments from our “How to Sleep in -5ºC Temperatures” tour guide. “Just don’t accidentally completely unzip the sleeping bag. They’re very hard to put the zipper back in”

Not to jump too far ahead in the story but, of course, Katie managed to undo the zipper on the sleeping bag. When this occurred near midnight, after I had settled comfortably and warmly into my fully-zipped sleeping bag, it really didn’t surprise me (the whole week it took Katie 2-4 tries to zip up her own jacket, with the longest attempt just simply being a “I give up”).

So needless to say, I was prepared for this comment. Prepared to get out of my warm cocoon was another story.

“Matttttttt, can you zip up my sleeping bag?”


I unzipped my sleeping bag, put my feet in my already chilling snow boots, ran a small semi-circle around the bed in my thin silk-weight long underwear and began fiddling in the dark with the zipper. After a few failed attempts, I finally managed to catch the teeth of the zipper and exclaimed that it was done. I tromped around the bed in half the time it took to get over there (as my body began to chill), jumped out of my shoes and back into my warm sleeping bag.

But lets rewind.

Each day, at 6:00 pm the Ice Hotel is closed off to visitors and is turned over to the nightly residents.

At this point, your tours of the rooms should be complete and you should leave the residents of each room to their nightly privacy. Nothing spells neighborly like walking into another Art Design Suite at 8pm to a startled unsuspecting couple (there are no doors on the ice rooms, just curtains).

But at 6:00 pm its not like you want to go to you room and settle in. Its -5! So you’re effectively homeless until you want to go to sleep (or in our case, take lots of pictures in the room, some with no jackets and just t-shirts and some with me acting stupid and running around without a shirt and only a reindeer skin around my waist). They do have a nice warm facility lobby that contains the two changing areas, locker rooms, warm and cold saunas (will get to cold saunas in a minute) and comfy chairs with a wood burning fireplace.

After a much needed warm shower following dogsledding and exploring Kiruna city, Katie and I went into our respective saunas to de-ice. I met a British guy in the sauna and he explained the customary tradition of the snow bath or ice sauna directly after the warm sauna (and when I say directly after I mean immediately, do-not-pass-go directly). So I stayed for awhile in the 175 degrees Fahrenheit sauna, raising my core body temperature and then proceeded to walk outside to the Men’s Ice Sauna area. Just in a towel, I proceeded to first cover myself with snow (not like packed together tightly cover but more throw a few handfuls of snow on me) then sit in the ice igloo for 2-3 minutes….To my surprise, it wasn’t that cold, well until maybe minute 3 and all the steam had evaporated and then I ran quickly inside and back into the sauna.

Most locals say the real tradition is to jump into the lake right after the sauna but luckily there was not lake or hole to do this. It can’t be healthy to go from 175 degrees to 40 degrees to 175 degrees.

Following my ice sauna experience, I spent a few hours wandering around outside taking photos as Katie relaxed in the lobby. I’m not sure really how the next hours went but it included drinks at the bar, a great reindeer sandwich for dinner, visit to the gift shop and then a brief re-visit to the icebar.

The instructions for the sleeping comfortably in the ice hotel included only wearing a thin base layer as your body heat keeps the sleeping bag warm. The sleeping bags, which are very roomy, keep your warm throughout the night. One catch is that you get on your base layer in the warm locker rooms and then run out to your ice room with just your base layer, hat, shoes and sleeping bag wrapped around you like an overcoat .

After helping Katie fix her zipper, I cocooned myself back into my bag and tried to sleep. Now for someone that likes to put their hand under their pillow or sleep on their side, sleeping is a little tougher than expected. The pillow is outside the sleeping bag and its tough to find a really comfortable position when everything is in your warm cocoon. The fun thing is you can close the sleeping bag hole to just bigger than a soda can and sleep completely wrapped up. The only scary thing is waking up in the middle of the night and not finding that opening.

I slept all right, off and on throughout the night. I had trouble falling asleep initially as my mind for some reason stayed awake. I woke up one time during the night because I had manage to unzip my sleeping bag halfway and woke up up freezing. But all in all, I survived and it was a great time.

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photo by: dieforu