Brrr! Ski gloves-and-hot-chocolate season is here but dare we say, no matter how many apres-ski activities you flit to this December, you haven’t really experienced the glories of winter until you’ve stayed in an ice hotel! From idyllic igloos to ice castles, these snowy retreats are undeniably cool and grant you bragging rights for having survived a night in sub zero temperatures! (Ok, not really because some rooms have heaters and even fireplaces!) Ready to have an unforgettable winter? Then ditch the ski chalet and check in to the coolest ice hotels in Europe!
LumiLinna Snowcastle, Kemi, Finland
When it comes to ice hotels, Finland does it best. They have not one, but five ice hotels in the country, with the largest snow fort in the world found in Kemi. Known as Lumi Linna Snowcastle or Snowcastle of Kemi, this 21 room snow castle is rebuilt every season following different themes planned by the architects and ice sculptors in charge. Now in its 20th year, Snowcastle has expanded to include a snow chapel and snow restaurant on its grounds, with a plethora of icy events and performances happening during its 4 month run.
Ice Hotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
This magnificent frosty construction of ice holds the honour of being the first ice hotel that started it all. Built entirely from the frozen waters of the Torne River, this sub-zero ice palace is a Ski-in Ski-out facility where you can stop by for the day or stay overnight. Special mention should be made of the Northern Light Suite which uses light art to mimic the Aurora Borealis in the ceiling -a gorgeous view to fall asleep to!
Hotel of Ice, Balea Lac, Romania
Now here’s an ice hotel in the least likeliest of places -Romania! Nestled high above in the Faragas Mountains, Eastern Europe’s first ice hotel will offer you the full Frozen experience, complete with snowman-building contests where you attempt to recreate Olaf! Be sure to wrap up nice and snug for dinner at the ice restaurant where ice tables, ice chairs, ice plates and frosty glasses are the order of the day.
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Alta, Norway
Reindeer blankets, thermal sleeping bags and an outdoor hot tub? Norway’s Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel ticks all the right boxes when it comes to creature comforts in sub zero situations. Europe’s northernmost ice hotel, located on the banks of the Alta River is also the place to be if you want to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, being home to the first-ever Northern Lights observatory.
Schneedorf Igloo Village, Austria
Located in the Austrian town of Oetz, Schneedorf Igloo Village provides all the requisites for those looking for a winter wonderland vacation. Sitting at an altitude of 6500 feet, those with an adventurous streak will no doubt want to go on the High Wire Garden to admire the gorgeous Oetz Valley landscape from above. Igloo building workshops are available and if you wish, your very own igloo can be created from scratch and customized to your needs (as long as reservations are made a month before your arrival).