The Ice Hotel Experience
Jukkasjarvi Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
January 5th, 2006 – by: TradewindsHD
The Ice Hotel is cool! Actually itâ€™s not too bad, as inside on a warm day it sustains a temperature of about -5 C. When its -30 C outside, the inside temperature is only -7 C and it feels warm.
First, about the whole travel experience: There is something really exciting about going so far north. The airport you fly into is Kiruna, Sweden. Itâ€™s not much more than an ice and snow-covered runway with a hangar and cafeteria in the middle. On the flight up, the transition from balmy Stockholm to extreme cold Jukkasjarvi was cumbersome at best.
We were traveling with the proper clothes and winter gear to handle the cold, and changing into it in our coach seats was challenging, especially for the 2 year old we had in tow.
Upon arrival in Kiruna, all the passengers deplane into the snow right on the tarmac, or in this case snow-pac. After a short wait for a prearranged bus ride, weâ€™re on our way to the hotel.
The hotel offers transfer packages from the airport to the hotel in a very authentic dog sled. We decided to forgo the sled ride, as we weâ€™re traveling with a toddler, and the trip takes approximately one hour behind running dogs in the frigid temperatures.
When you arrive at the Ice Hotel, a friendly staff that can speak pretty much any language with which theyâ€™re confronted greets you. I heard everything from Mandarin, Japanese, and Vietnamese to Spanish, French, English and Czech.
The one thing I did not like too much was this: You donâ€™t have a private room to retreat to if you want to take a nap or just unwind. An Ice Hotel stay isnâ€™t meant to be a pampering experience, itâ€™s more like an expedition to the North Pole with some nice extras.
The staff shows you to a warm co-ed changing room with very large lockers to keep all your luggage. This locker room of sorts is your home base. Itâ€™s the place where you do all the fiddling around with your luggage; get your sleeping bags, or get any extra full suit winter outerwear you may need.
Hereâ€™s how it works. After checking in, you proceed to the locker room, choose to settle down for a while, or walk around and explore the Ice Hotel and surrounding town of Jukkasjarvi. If you want, this would be a great time to go to the sauna spa to heat up, grab some drinks, or have dinner at the hotelâ€™s 5-star restaurant.
You stay busy until the ice rooms are closed to the general public. Then, you grab a sub-arctic sleeping bag and liner from the equipment checkout side of the locker room and bring only what you will be sleeping in.
A crucial tip is that only whatâ€™s inside the sleeping bag stays warm. Anything outside ends up collecting a layer of frost and freezing, so you should keep the rest of your gear in the locker room, including boot liners.
Then itâ€™s snuggle-up and sleep time. The rooms have no doorsâ€”just curtains, but itâ€™s surprisingly warm. Your bed sits off the floor on ice blocks and consists of a board, a reindeer pelt with the fat still attached, and the bag you sleep in.
Youâ€™ll be awakened in the morning with a warm mug of lingonberry juice.
Although itâ€™s cold in the Ice Hotel, you can stay in some warm rooms, and I highly recommend staying there at least once for the sheer novelty of the experience.
Here are the details:
In Jukkajarvi and Kiruna, the people, the few local restaurants are all so hospitable, and you must spend time in the Absolut Ice Bar, where the glasses are hollowed-out blocks of ice.
You donâ€™t need a rental car just your feet and strong legs and the ability to withstand the cold.
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