It had been on my to do list for over 20 years. For whatever reason, it always got pushed aside for something else I wanted to do. In April, I finally hopped a plane to Northern Sweden and stayed at the Icehotel.
There have been many knock offs of the Icehotel, however the original resides in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. In 1989 the first ever was hand sculpted out of the massive ice blocks harvested from the Torne River. Each winter since, artist gather to this small town inside the Arctic Circle to build a new rendition of the hotel.
When checking into the Icehotel you have the choice of a warm or cold room. Many people opt for a cold room for one night and then extend their stay in a warm one. Not only are the warm rooms significantly less expensive, they're also, obviously, warm. A night on the ice slab isn’t for everyone. I opted for a cold suite. There were regular ice rooms and more elaborate ice suites. All were beautiful and reminded me of what Superman's home might look like. Upon checkin I was provided a small changing room in a heated building where I could leave my things. During the day, the cold rooms are open to the public. It’s possible to come and check out all the ice rooms without actually staying in one. They are all unique and each a piece of art. I left my things in my assigned changing room and made the short walk to the cold rooms. As they were all different, I checked out every room, one being more beautiful then the next. Each had a different theme picked by the artist. All were named and had an ice plaque outside each room with the room and artists name. I was freezing as I walked around. I wondered how well I'd sleep in the frigid temperature. The toilets were shared and towards the end of the structure. They had double doors at the entry, the first needed to be completely closed before the second would open. Once inside it was toasty warm.
Attached to the building was the Icebar. The elaborate bar itself and tables were completely made of ice. It also had stunning chandeliers.
At 6 pm the public is no longer allowed to view the rooms and the individual doors to the rooms are closed. You leave all your belongings overnight in the warm building a short walk away. In the small changing rooms they assign they had a large mirror and long bench. I took a mental note of the bench and thought if worse came to worse and I couldn’t stand the cold, I’d stay in my changing room for the night! Amazingly, there’s electricity in the cold rooms and even an electrical plug. There’s a light switch by the door and next to the bed. The bed is an ice slab with a duvet on top and a couple reindeer skins. Not only do the skins look cool, they provide tremendous warmth.
After dinner I checked out the Icebar. They had colourful signature drinks and I tried the neon green sour apple concoction. I wondered if my lips would stick to the all-ice glass, they did not. By the end of the drink, however, there was an imprint of my lower lip where I had been drinking.
Before retiring for the night, they suggest you leave your personal boots in your changing room and put a pair of their uber warm boots on. They also give you a down sleeping bag. Other than my small backpack, I took nothing to my cold room. I put my sleeping wear on, their boots and grabbed a sleeping bag. It was around 11pm and as I entered the building, you first walk through the Icebar. As it was late, the large window that had previously provided much light, was now dark and the entire Icebar took on a stunning blue hue. It was far more beautiful than it had been during the day. I walked the hall to my room and got ready for the evening. I took the reindeer skins and placed them where I would be sleeping. One under my upper body and one under my lower body. They claim you only need to wear long underwear, thick socks and a hat to bed, but I added a wool sweater and two down coats under my sleeping bag. Once zipped up, it was really only my face that was cold. I tossed and turned often during the night. I got up to use the bathroom and stayed a while in the warmth, thawing my body. Back to the ice slab, sleep was fleeting. Early in the morning, about the last three hours it became absolutely freezing. I was determined to not give up and go to the warm building so I toughed it out. By 0700 I was more than ready to get up. I sat up, looked around and discovered the reason for my misery of the last three hours. One of the reindeer skins had fallen on the floor, during my flailing about.
After a hearty breakfast, I left the small village for my trip back. Due to flight schedules I had to spend the night in Stockholm. After browsing hotel accommodations one stuck out from then the rest, Jumbo Stay. Why? Because it was a 747! Located right at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport, it was a short bus ride from the terminal to the hotel. I walked up to the converted jumbo and up the many stairs to the entrance. Jumbo Stay had, in its previous life, been a functioning 747 for many airlines for decades before it was retired and made into a hotel. With few people staying that night, I was given a tour of the entire plane, minus the cockpit, which was occupied. Any aviation enthusiast would be thrilled with a stay here.
My trip to Sweden was great! Although not the type of trip I normally do, I enjoyed it immensely. Another check on my huge to do list complete!