Surviving a night in The Ice-Hotel
When the opportunity arose, and when we could fit it into our travel budget, we jumped at the chance to head to the Ice Hotel in Kiruna Sweden for an extended weekend. And even though it was over 10 years ago now, I still remember it like it was yesterday. We were excited and curious to know if we could survive a night in the ‘The Ice-Hotel’ Kiruna Sweden.
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After a day of travelling through Scandinavia, across the Arctic Circle via the night train, we finally arrived in Kiruna (Sweden). Upon stepping off the train, the cold temperature hit me straight away & I was already wondering how I was going to make it through the night in a room made of ice.
Preparing for the day
After a 10min bus ride from the station, we arrived at the ‘Ice Hotel’, which was situated next to the Torne River. We were given our room number and organised our activities: dog sledding and chasing the Northern lights on Skidoo were on my agenda.
We then headed over to the “Warm House” (adjoined to the ice-hotel) to be given our locker (for our belongings for the duration of the stay in the ice room) and to change into our purposely made ski clothes, gloves & shoes (optional but it is highly recommended).
Once we were in our suits, we were given a small talk about the hotel, the facilities, the history and the artists who sculpted the rooms. Then it was our time to explore the hotel and surrounding area in the limited daylight. Apart from it being -20c, it was one of the most beautiful places that I had seen, everything was pure white covered in snow and very still. It was just so peaceful and for a moment I forgot where I was.
Exploring the Rooms & Hotel
First stop was to visit the themed rooms and check out the amazing ice sculptures in some of these rooms. It was such a surreal experience, all the artist’s rooms were different, there was everything from Dragons to giant chessboards. I felt like a kid again playing chess & pretending to ride a dragon!
After the rooms, we visited the church (you can organise to get married here) and then the ice-bar for a drink before heading off to do our activities that we had booked (review to come).
The Overnight Experience
Once our activities were over, it was time to do what we came here for and spend the night in our ice room on an ice bed. We headed over to the warm house to collect our sleeping bags and to change into our thermals/Pjs Once changed, it was time to head to our room for the night.
Whilst walking there, it was the first time I had felt the cold apart from when we first arrived and realised just how good those purposely made suits were during the day. As I got comfortable in my sleeping bag (tucked up with my Beanie over my head) a hundred things started running through my mind while I drifted off to sleep. Will my water freeze in the middle of the night; what would I do if I need to get up for the loo – will I freeze; how will I go sleeping on a bed of ice.
The Morning After
The next thing I knew it was morning and I was being woken up by one of the lovely hotel staff bringing me warm berry juice. I had made it, and all that worry was for nothing. Instead, I had one of the best night’s sleep in a while and was nicely surprised about how warm and comfortable it was to sleep on deer skins.
As we prepared for our departure back home & checked out of our room, we were given a certificate to congratulate and remind us that we had just spent the night in a -9c temperature room.
About the Room
There are 3 main types of ice rooms that you can choose from depending on your budget & what suits you. Art Suites (themed rooms created by artists), Deluxe 365 (also themed but are available all year around ) and Ice Rooms (standard double bed – the one that I stayed in) I think it was the cheapest option but the experience is definitely no different.
All the beds are made of Ice with Reindeer skins on top of them. You sleep in a specially made sleeping bag and can choose from either a single or a double.
If you do not think that you could handle staying in the Ice rooms or you are wanting to stay an extra few nights. Then you have the option of staying in one of the heated accommodation available, either Kaamos, Nordic Chalet or Arctic Chalet.
They are situated next to the hotel and even though I never stayed in one they looked very warm and comfortable.
IceBar by Ice-Hotel
You can’t go all the way to the Ice-Hotel and not have a drink at the Ice-bar. It is such a cool novelty, being in a bar made of ice, drinking out of a glass made of ice, while sitting on the ice furniture. If you are going as a family that is not a problem, as children are allowed to be in the bar.
- If you are not keen on drinking out of ice cups there are warm drinks available and soft drinks for the children.
- 12 am – midnight
Some of the Activities Available
There are a number of actives that are available at the Ice-Hotel like dog sledding, chasing the Northern lights, horse sledding, even learning how to Ice Sculpture. You are best to book these in advance to save disappointment, especially if there is something particular you really want to do. As there is usually a limited number of spaces on the activities and there is only a couple of restaurants in the town.
Northern Lights Safari on Snowmobile
One of the activities I was really looking forward to doing was the Northern Lights Safari because like most, seeing the Northern Lights was a bucket list item. Unfortunately, the Northern lights are a natural phenomenon and we did not see the lights that night (Don’t worry I saw them the night after :-))
However, I still had a wonderful time speeding along the ice lake and through the forest on the snowmobile. When it became too cold for us, we would stop off in one of the purposely built huts in the forest where the fire was roaring and we were served berry juice to warm up again.
- Wear plenty of layers, as you get cold when you are zooming along on the snowmobile with the fresh air hitting you.
What is provided
You are given a medium sized locker, which will not fit a large suitcase. It would fit a medium backpack, ski coat, thermals and personal belongings. You don’t need much anyway as you are provided with the suits/shoes/gloves and hats when you arrive.
- Make sure that you take your thermals for extra warmth.
How to get there & Location:
There were only two main options of getting to Kiruna when I went over 10 years ago. Now there is a direct flight available from London to Kiruna (I am unsure of the price) during the peak season.
Option 1: You could fly to Stockholm, and then take a direct flight to Kiruna.
Option 2: You could fly to Stockholm then take the overnight train to Kiruna (this is the option that I took).
- If you are stopping in Stockholm and you would like to downsize your bag, there are large lockers at the main train station (also where you take the night train from) that are available and safe to use.
- All iced bedrooms are open to the public until 6 pm every day, and then guests are allowed to retire to their chosen room.
- Unless you have a large budget, definitely make sure that you plan accordingly otherwise you will end up spending a small fortune on the additional extras
- During the winter months, there is only a couple of hours of daylight per day.
- If it gets too cold for you, or if you want to relax in the warmth, there is a warm house (where your belongings are kept) available that also has a sauna and showers for you to use during your stay.
- Guided tours at 12 and 4 pm in English (10 am and 2 pm in Swedish).
- Price Range – Expensive but worth it
- Wifi – Free in all areas
- Breakfast – Buffet breakfast included
Would I recommend the Ice-Hotel Kiruna
This was a big bucket list item for me and I am so glad that I have now been able to tick it off. I would highly recommend staying at the Ice-Hotel, as it is a once in a lifetime trip and an experience that you will never forget. Hopefully it is even more special and you get to see the Northern lights dancing through the sky above the hotel.
Be aware though that it is not cheap, but if you have the chance and can afford it, then start planning your trip as you won’t regret it. If you are unable to make it to the Ice-Hotel but would like to have a similar experience, you can visit the many Vodka Ice-Bars that are around the world.
Thank you for reading my article ‘Surviving a night in ‘The Ice-Hotel’ Kiruna Sweden’, I hope it helped you to decide in going there. This is still one of my favourite experiences and would definitely go again in a heartbeat.
If you are interested in discovering more adventures Winter Adventures, then please feel free to check out my other articles on The Italian side of the Matterhorn, Breuil-Cervinia Ski Resort Italy or Why Morzine Ski Resort France should be your next Ski destination.
Have you Stayed in the Ice-Hotel before?
I would love to hear it 🙂 Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I paid to stay in the Ice-Hotel Sweden over 10years ago. All views are my own and based on my own experience.