3 of a kind: Ice hotels

Sat, Dec 17, 2011, 00:00

HOTEL DE GLACE QUÉBEC-CANADARue de la Faune, Québec, 001 418 623 2888, hoteldeglace-canada.com. From €224 per room

What: Just 23 miles from Quebec City (and 150 miles from Montreal), the Hotel de Glace (you’re in French-speaking Canada here) is the most accessible ice hotel, so it gets many day-trippers coming to check out glacial architecture. That includes the vast lobby with its 5.4m-high ceiling (adorned with a candelabra lit by fibre optics), an ice bar where drinks are served in glasses made from, er, ice, an indoor ice slide, a chapel (where the warm-hearted get married) and an ice café. For this reason you won’t be hanging around in bed for too long in the morning – lest you become an exhibit – but, anyway, the cool air will have you out of bed fairly sharply. Yet between 9pm and 9am guests have private access to outdoor hot tubs and a sauna.

The 3,000 square metre, 36-room hotel is built each December from 15,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice. It takes about five weeks and the hotel is open from January 6th to March 25th. There are 36 rooms all individually decorated. The regular rooms have one, two or three queen-size beds; theme suites have a different ice-sculpted, artistically lit design. Premium suites come with fireplaces and the grandest suites have fireplaces and a private spa.

ICEHOTELMarknadsvägen 63, 981 91 Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, 00-46-980-66800, icehotel.com. Warm accommodation, from €138.50. Cold from €138.50

What: Up near the world’s top, 200km north of the Arctic Circle, this area of Lapland, has long been a tourist hive in the summer, with white water rafting, survival training, fishing and canoeing. But locals in the Swedish town of Jukkasjärvi began the Ice Hotel 22 years ago, as a way to attract visitors to its charms during the dark, bleak midwinter. They always say you should build with local materials and that is what the owner of this hotel, Yngve Bergqvist, did. He took ice from the nearby Torne River as a starting point and espoused the attractions of the Northern Lights and midnight sun to tourists. The Ice Hotel began as a 60sq metre igloo and has expanded since then: the hotel being built this year will measure 5,500sq metres. The snow is sprayed on steel supports, left to freeze and then the supports are removed. Included in the hotel is an ice chapel and ice bar. For the first time, they will keep some ice bedrooms open next summer too.

This year the Icehotel will have have 47 rooms, including Art Suites with ice sculptures and a bed of snow and ice topped by a reindeer skin, ice rooms with furniture made from ice. As with the other ice hotels, it is recommended that you spend just one night in a cold room and the rest of your stay in the warm hotel or chalet.

IGLOO HOTEL, NORWAY Sorrisniva as, Sorrisniva 20, 9518 Alta, Norway. Tel: 0047 784 33378, sorrisniva.no. Overnight stay, sauna, breakfast and bus to/from Alta town centre is €258

What: The Igloo Hotel in the Norwegian Lapland is by a river and 20km from the nearest town, Alta. You reach the 2,000sq metre hotel via a 20-minute bus journey taking you to your cold, remote and magical bed on Europe’s northern edge. It has been running for 13 years and opens between January and April. Like the other ice hotels, this it is open to daytrippers and has a chapel, lounges dripping with ice sculptures and an ice bar serving drinks in ice glasses. Up here, between November and January, the suns stays below the horizon but there is an ethereal blue light for a couple of hours at twilight and the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) turn the sky purple, pink and green at moments during winter (from October to April). The world’s first Northern Lights observatory was built in 1899 in Alta.

There are 30 bedrooms including some suites. All of the ice hotels mentioned here have sessions on how to sleep in the ice rooms, where you sleep in super-warm sleeping bags.