It was quite the long flight in from Chicago. We arrived in Sweden's Arlanda airport for a brief layover before getting on another plane to Kiruna's airport. From there we were on our way to the Ice Hotel thanks to the bus provided.
I do not think I can properly describe the Ice Hotel; except to say it truly is breath taking. My Husband (and Hawkins) thought that there would be nothing to do. We left wishing we had stayed more than the two nights!
There are two restaurants and plenty of activities to partake in. Things such as dog sled rides (a definite must if you only do one thing), snowmobile rides, reindeer rides, a hot tub, dips in the water and so much more.
And then there is the Ice Hotel itself. It is amazing. It has several hundred rooms. Most are basic rooms with only the bed of ice (with reindeer skins on it). Then there are the suites that have the most beautiful ice carvings in them. There is also a bar, church and "Globe Theater" (which was not yet open when we went).
It is truly a winter wonderland and one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The Ice Hotel is in my top 100 places to see before you die.
To ease some confusion, there are heated rooms and heated cabins available. What is normally done is you spend one night in the Ice Hotel itself and how ever many other nights you desire in the heated rooms (We rented a cabin and recommend it highly). A snowmobile suit, mittens, a hat and boots are included in the cost of the room; so is breakfast.
When you arrive at the hotel you are split into two parties; one group is those staying in the Ice Hotel that night and the other are people staying in a heated room. Those who are staying in the Ice Hotel are taken on a tour (you may chose the Swedish tour or the English tour) of the facilities and told what to expect. Those who are staying in a heated room go to the reception and check in.
The Ice Hotel itself is open to the public from the hours of 10 am and 6 pm (admission to the Ice Hotel during the day is included in your hotel price, whether you stay in a heated room or at the hotel). You are allowed to go to your room at 7 pm.
All of your belongings are kept in a locked cubby which is provided for you. A sleeping bag is provided for you to sleep in if you are staying in the Ice Hotel itself. It is a "mummy" sleeping bag, and some people really do not like them. My Husband found it too restrictive (he is 6 feet and 4 inches and about 210 pounds). I found that whenever I moved cold air would get in and I would get chilly (I am 5 foot 3 and 120 pounds).
In the Ice Hotel itself it stays at around -5 degree C, outside it can get to -20 degrees C. Coming from Chicago that is weather we were used to, but we were still very thankful for all the warm clothing!
They wake you in the morning between 7:30 am and 8 am (earlier if you ask). They provide you with warm lingonberry juice and it is a welcome treat! You also get a lovely certificate stating that you "survived" a night in the Ice Hotel. Also, if you fill out their comment form you get a pin with the Ice Hotel logo on it.
The people there are very nice and helpful. It is a wonderful place to stay and really is a sight to see. We recommend it highly! yes, it can be a tad expensive, but remember that it is worth it for this wonderful experience.
I have additional photographs without Hawkins (which was hard as he does like to hog things... no pun intended). They are at my web site, but require a username and password to view (unsophisticated.info).
Next week I will continue the series by putting up pictures of Hawkins in Stockholm!