What do Captain America, Brendan Fraser, and Scrat the saber-toothed squirrel have in common?
They were all frozen in ice and re-animated years later.
Far be it from me to argue with the writers of Captain America, Encino Man, and Ice Age, but even though it would mean prolonging my life, the idea doesn’t appeal to me. An ice hotel, on the other hand, where I can sleep for a night rather than for years…kind of does.
Ice hotels are what the name suggests. Each year, they’re built fresh, the best using nothing but ice and snow for support. Because they depend on sub-zero temperatures to survive, the season could be over with an early thaw.
Who Decided Sleeping on Ice Was A Good Idea?
The first ice hotel, aptly named Icehotel, started as an art exhibit in the village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. In 1990, a French artist displayed his ice art in an igloo there. One evening, the village didn’t have enough rooms to house all the visitors overnight, so the overflow stayed in the exhibition igloo in sleeping bags laid on top of reindeer skins. The first ice hotel was born.
The Icehotel expanded until it became not only the first but also the biggest ice hotel in the world. It covers 64,600 sq ft., which is larger than a U.S. football field, and houses 100 guests. The inside of the Icehotel remains at a relatively constant 23 °F (−5 °C).
When you check in, you leave your luggage in a nearby warm house (where the washrooms are also located), and slip into the warm winter clothes, gloves, and shoes provided by the Icehotel so that you look like a giant blue marshmallow. Once you’re checked in, you can visit the Icebar, where you’ll be surrounded by original ice sculptures and blue lights to reflect off the snow as your lips melt your glass of ice.
Outside, the Aurora Borealis treats you to one of the world’s most spectacular shows of yellow, green, blue, and red streaks of colors in the sky. Their name comes from Aurora, Roman goddess of dawn, and Boreas, what the Greek’s called the north wind. The lights play across the horizon exactly as if the wind stole the colors of the dawn and now taunts her in a game of keep-away.
Like the first Icehotel guests, when you finally return to your room to sleep, you’re sleeping in an art exhibit. Each room is designed by an artist, and the honor of creating an Icehotel room draws creatives from all over the world. Staff wakes you in the morning with a hot cup of lingonberry juice, like a sweeter cranberry juice, served to you in bed.
Can’t Travel to Sweden? No Problem
The coolest (no pun intended…well, maybe a little) thing about ice hotels is that you don’t even have to leave North America to visit one. Hôtel de Glace is located 10 minutes outside of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. It was the first ice hotel in the world to make a bed entirely out of ice.
What do you think? Would you spend a night in a hotel made entirely of ice?
This has been the first in a new regular “unbelievable real life” feature where I’ll be showcasing weird creatures and offbeat places on our planet that seem like they should belong in a fantasy. Be sure to sign up below so that you’ll receive free updates and won’t miss the next edition.
Image Credits (in order): Tom Corser (Creative Commons), Jacopo Werther (Creative Commons), and Skeezix1000 (Creative Commons).