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We visited the Ice Hotel Jukkasjärvi as a Mother Daughter trip, staying for 3 nights between 20th and 23rd January 2023. The advice is to spend your first or last night in a cold room. We had our first 2 nights in a warm room and the last night in a cold room, which worked out well.
Day 1 - 20th Jan - Arrival at the Ice Hotel, Jukkasjärvi
We made a quick tour of the Ice Hotel and marvelled at all the beautiful art suites. It is quieter to take photos after the hotel closes to the public at 6pm. We selected a couple of favourite art suites so we could let Reception know our preference. There is no guarantee, so we keep our fingers crossed that we would be allocated one of the rooms we wanted the night before our cold room stay.
There is an interesting video you can watch on how the hotel was built which makes good use of the time before you get ready for cocktails in the stunning Ice Bar. Dinner on our first night was in the Main Icehotel Restaurant. Read More on my previous post.
Keep reading to discover the trip highlights that helped to make our trip great.
Cocktails at the Ice Bar are served in glasses made of ice – how cool is that?!
Refills come at a reduced rate if you re-use your glass.
Day 2 - 21st Jan - Reindeers and Husky Dog Sledding
After a generous buffet breakfast, we set off at sunrise (9.30!) for the Reindeer Museum. The Museum opens at 10am and is just a 15 minute walk from the Ice Hotel. You can feed the reindeers (buy a bag of reindeer lichen inside the museum) and wander freely with them inside their enclosure. There is a short film about a year in the life of a Sámi reindeer herder played in Swedish and English.
The Museum is made up of a series of outdoor exhibits about a reindeer herder’s life and you can see some of the traditional buildings of yester year displayed there. The shop sells books/handicrafts and there is a cosy warm café lit by a roaring log fire where you can buy hot drinks and lunch.
Between 22nd April and 6th June, the museum is open Tue – Sat 10am – 4 pm. Between 6th Jun and 6th November, it opens daily.
A museum visit will cost you about £18 pp (£9 for children), and they accept card – there is no need to bring any Swedish cash with you. You can book a guided tour “Guossi” for £8 which starts at 10.15 and lasts for 45 minutes. We didn’t do this, but I would say it is probably well worth considering, depending on how good you are at standing in the cold reading all the signs in the outdoor museum for yourself.
There is also a beautiful little church at Jukkasjärvi just next-door to the museum which is nice to explore.
There is a Co-Op Supermarket enroute to the Museum which is worth a visit too. I think it’s always interesting to see the food and drink that the local inhabitants stock their cupboards and fridges with?
After a warming hot chocolate in the Ice Hotel Lounge, it was time for our pre-booked Husky Dog Sledding Tour which departed at 1pm and lasted 1 1/2 hours. There are more dogs than people in Jukkasjärvi and a dog sled tour through the snow laden forests is a lovely way to explore the surrounding area.
If you are brave, you can opt to go up front as a musher. If not, be prepared to sit for quite a long time astride the sledge as you race through the snow and ice. It was good to get off to stretch our legs and have a hot drink by the fireside at the half way point and quite a relief to arrive home at the end. It was great fun, but an hour and a half was ample. By that time, frozen eyelashes were beginning to weigh a little heavy. It was definitely time to defrost.
In the evening, we were booked onto the Chef’s Table at The Veranda. See my previous post for more details. We enjoyed the spectacle of locally sources ingredients being cooked before our eyes and chatting to the two the four other guest who were sharing the experience with us. I lost count of how many courses we were served in the end – the drinks package was very generous. We didn’t get to bed until midnight!
Day 3 - 22nd Jan - Northern Lights and a Night in the Freezer
Check out of the Warm Room was 11am and our bags were placed in the open luggage storage room until we were allocated a changing room at 3pm. We had booked an Art Suite in Hotel 33, so we were allocated a lockable changing cubicle (with charging point). If you book a standard ice room, you are just allocated a locker.
We were delighted to find that our preferred choice of Art Suite – Hidden Milan – had been allocated and headed into Hotel 33 to take some photos (and map out our route to the bathroom!).
Highlight - Snowmobiling
The afternoon was spent on an exhilarating 3 hour Snowmobile Adventure. Sunset fell as we were setting off and gave some lovely light conditions for photos of what was the definite highlight of our trip. A stop by a roaring fire for Swedish Fika at the half way point before a race back across the snow in the dark completed the trip. Everything was very well organised and we felt safe despite the cold – and the speed we were travelling at. Passing husky dog sledders and skiers en route gave us a bit of a challenge, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
Tips for Future Travellers
If you didn’t fancy driving the snowmobile yourself, there was a sledge attached to the machine at the front with cosy reindeer skins to cuddle up on. So – if you are not the adventurous type – then that could be a good option?
As we built the fire, we talked about how fires are a lot like children. When they are young, you nurture them carefully and feed them small morsels. Then, later on, when they have grown up – they will look after you. Or in my case, they ace driving the snowmobile so you can relax on the back as a passenger.
By the time we returned, we could check into our Art Suite. Time for a relaxing sauna (which we had to ourselves) and a warm shower before cocktails in the Ice Bar and a walk to the Homestead Restaurant. The Northern Lights put in an appearance en route and in fact shone around us for a large part of the evening, getting stronger as the night progressed. It was great to be able to photograph the Ice Hotel with the Northern Lights behind it! This trip really is a chance to tick several items off your bucket list at once, which makes it pretty good value overall, I think.
What is it Actually Like to Sleep in a Cold Room?
The temperature hovers at a constant of -5 to -7 C and the expedition-style sleeping bags you are issued with really do keep you very warm. There is a tutorial for guests sleeping amongst ice art every day at 4.30 which is useful.
The beds in the cold rooms have a bed frame made of ice, a slatted bed base with a thick mattress, reindeer skins and a pillow. The pillow goes under your sleeping bag. There is a light by the side of the bed which you can turn off before you tuck in for the night.
Our allocated Art Suite was Hidden Milan, which was designed to look like a peaceful garden. There was relaxing music playing in this room which was quite nice as we acclimatised to the space. It stopped when we turned the lights out. All rooms in Icehotel Winter have curtain doors (the Art and Deluxe Suites in Icehotel 365 all have doors). The curtains froze solid overnight – but our Ice Hotel issue boots were fine to wear. Cold – but not frozen.
If you enjoy camping, you’d probably find a night in the Cold Room quite comfortable. If you aren’t the camping sort and enjoy life’s little luxuries, then it probably won’t be the best night’s sleep you’ll ever get. Trying to keep your sleeping bag on the mattress and off the slippy ice can be a bit of a challenge. It was eerily quiet and peaceful in the cold room and I got a few hours of sleep despite the surreal surroundings. It is a memorable one-off must do though for sure and I am very glad to have experienced it.
Tips for Future Travellers
I was determined not to have to brave the cold to find the bathroom in the night, so deliberately drank much less water than I usually would with dinner. I was also glad I had my watch on so I knew what the time was – and when I should get up and check out. I was also glad to have a little drawstring bag with me inside the sleeping bag so I could keep my ‘phone – in it’s thermal case – with me.
Read more about how to prepare yourself for a night sleeping in the freezer and packing tips on my previous post.
Day 4 - 23rd Jan - Check Out
After a hot cup of tea in the Riverside Lobby (foc) and a relaxing sauna, we had some time to explore the gallery before the breakfast buffet opened and get ready to meet our return taxi back home.
- Snow Mobiling
- The Ice Hotel Bar
- Husky Dog Sledding
- Feeding the Reindeer
- Hot Chocolate
Staying at The Ice Hotel - Final Reflections
You can see why the Swedes love their fires and plait their hair – both very practical ways of keeping comfortable in these extreme conditions. It struck me that – although it can be challenging to live in extremely cold conditions, I much prefer it to extreme heat. In the cold, you can use your own body warmth, textile technology and natural fires to keep you warm and there is plenty of clean water to drink. Managing extreme heat is much more difficult.
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