Inside Sweden's annual Icehotel: mammoth tusks, icy chandeliers and snow-carved balloons

The world's first frosty hotel has reopened for winter with a dizzying display of icy architecture from 27 international artists

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Icehotel 32 has opened for winter combining the work of 27 artists and more than 1,300 blocks of ice harvested from the River Torne.

Located 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, the icy hotel suites are open for overnight stays for the next five months, until the ice melts and flows back into the river.

More than 600 tonnes of ice and more than 25,000 cubic metres – or 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools' worth – of snow and ice mix were used to create this year's hotel.

Mother Nature was good to the creative teams over the past year, with the region recording record low temperatures of minus 38ºC – perfect conditions for the ice artists and designers.

Brimming with fantastic art suites and sculptures made entirely of ice and snow, Icehotel 32 is the result of the work of more than 70 people including artists, production teams, builders and light designers.

Another 150 staff will ensure the rooms, corridors and hallways remain in pristine condition throughout the season, as well as being on hand to welcome guests checking in for stays.

“After 32 years, still when I come into these kind of rooms with the columns and the light, I’m speechless,” said Luca Roncoroni, Icehotel's creative director as he previewed the hotel on Instagram.

"The best reward is to see people's smiles and wonder once we open the doors."

The hotel has 12 seasonal art suites and 24 ice rooms that are available year-round. There's also a spa, sub-zero sauna, ice bar, movie theatre and a grand ceremony hall, where weddings are held throughout the winter.

The newly designed art suites have never been created before, nor will they exist again once spring time comes and the ice returns to its origins.

A 600-kilogram chandelier and a sub-zero sauna

Guests checking in to Icehotel 32 will sleep in frozen beds on top of reindeer hides, in suites where temperatures dip well below freezing.

While part of the hotel is open year-round, thanks to a solar-powered refrigeration plant, the big reveal takes place each December when the pop-up winter hotel comes alive in a frosty incarnation.

This year, rooms have been designed by international artists from 19 different countries giving the hotel a more international vibe than it had in 2020, when suites were designed only by artists from Sweden because of coronavirus-related restrictions on travel.

In keeping with tradition, a dazzling icicle-laden chandelier welcomes guests in the lobby. This year's sparkling design was created from more than 200 handcrafted ice crystals and weighs more than 600 kilograms.

Bed-down between mammoth tusks or sleep with the chickens

The Sacred Giant suite has a bed between snow-carved mammoth tusks. Designed by AnnaSofia Maag, Emilia Elisson, My Flink, Oscar Insulander. Photo: Asaf Kliger / IceHotel32

Standout seasonal suites this year include the Art Deco-style Great Gatsby, another room filled with snow-carved chickens and the nature-driven Ginnungagap, which features snow carved into frozen rivers, lakes and mountains.

There's also a family bed perched between a humungous pair of mammoth tusks shaped out of snow inside the Sacred Giant suite, designed by four Swedish artists.

Guests sleeping in the Dickensian Street suite by father-daughter duo Johnathan and Marnie Green from the UK will be able to travel back in time with a visit to London's old alleyways, complete with lanterns, a cheesemongers and a traditional inn, all carved out of snow.

Weddings take place in the hotel's ceremony hall which this year has a stunning balloon-theme design from artists Marjolein Vonk and Maurizio Perron. Named On Air, the picturesque hall is designed to evoke joy and happiness with ice-carved "floating" balloons, glass-like pillars and ice block benches.

The impressive results took production teams more than six weeks of sculpting, shaving and chiselling snow and ice to try to replicate each artist's vision. The groundwork first began in March 2021, when the teams harvested thousands of kilograms of ice from the river, using special machinery to extract each of the blocks.

For anyone looking to book a stay at Icehotel, it's recommend to only spend one night in ice, usually at the very start or end of your trip. The rest of the time, there are cosy Scandinavian-style hotel rooms or chalets available to sleep in.

Rooms start from 6,295 Swedish krona ($691) per night for two people including breakfast; icehotel.com

Updated: December 14, 2021, 6:47 AM
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