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Sweden/Holland 2003: [Sweden] [Ice Hotel: Visit] [Ice Hotel: Suites] [Ice Hotel: Miscellaneous] [Holland]

Here is the primary entrance to the Ice Hotel. Overnight guests tend to enter by way of the luggage/restroom building, which is located just a few feet away from the side door. Just inside this main door is a reception desk. The hotel is a museum until 6:00 PM, and then day guests are no longer allowed in the hotel. After 7:00 PM, overnight guests are no longer allowed to look into the other rooms so that hotel guests may have privacy in their own room.
Here is the entrance sign. Entrance for day guests is 100 Swedish kronor (approximately $14 US).
Directly next door to the hotel, joined by a wall, but with a completely separate entrance, is the Ice Chapel. It is a beautiful, fully-functioning church, but it smells a bit like reindeer skins. Weddings are performed here almost daily.
Back in the Ice Hotel, this sculpture is at the back of the main hall (opposite the entrance). We were told that it would be a fountain when they were finished working on it. With the light of day visible through the wall in back, it was breathtaking.
To the right of the fountain is the entrance to the Absolut Ice Bar, shown here closed off after a night of New Year's Eve revelry.
On the back wall of the Ice Bar, opposite the main bar area, is this series of musical sculptures.
We were told that the one design element that stays the same every year is the ice chandelier, since it is so popular with visitors.
It's so pretty that it's hard to believe it's made of ice. Fiber optics light up each ice jewel.
These simple ice lights were along the walls of the corridors containing the rooms and suites.
In one part of the hotel, there was a domed, circular room containing an exhibit about glacial ice. Here is the entrance to the exhibit, with a blue light leading from the wall of the exhibit down the entrance path.
The exhibit contained actual chunks of ice from the major glaciers of the world, including the Arctic, Antarctic, etc. These chunks were sealed in ice boxes, with text describing each sample in a lit up display next to each. These were embedded in a circular wall.
Opposite the entrance was an entry inside the circular wall. Inside this circular wall were this beautiful crystal ball and a tall structure that was lit by multi-colored lights (not shown here).
Stars and constellations had been painted on the domed ceiling above with special black light paint. Here is the Big Dipper on the ceiling.
Ouside of the hotel, large blocks of ice (as tall as a person) lined many of the walkways. I assume they will be used to repair sculptures as needed, or will eventually be sculpted into other shapes for decoration. I guess I should have asked someone.
There is a very large storage shed near the hotel which houses ice harvested the previous winter to use when constructing the hotel at the start of each winter.
Right on the banks of the Torne River, the Ice Globe Theater is taking shape. The first plays will be performed here in late January.
Here is the partially-completed interior of the theater.
The main reception building is warm and inviting. The walls are covered with large Absolut posters of ads which were photographed at the Ice Hotel. The models in the photos (including Kate Moss) managed to look gorgeous even though we know they must have been freezing. On the left is the reception desk...
... and on the right is the lounge area with a coffee machine and a toasty fireplace. The corridor in between the two halves of the room leads to the gift shop.
Just outside the entrance to the gift shop stands an ice sculpture that slowly melts away over the course of the day.
The gift shop features lots of great things to purchase, and we bought this bandana, some balaclavas to keep our heads warmer, a shot glass, a bottle opener, a lighter, and a tiny wooden kicksled.

Planning a trip to the Ice Hotel? Here are some tips that may help you plan:

  • Restaurants:
    • Make reservations at the Ice Hotel Restaurant for your first evening, when you are booking your airport transfers, adventures, and accommodations. This restaurant is closer, so it books up much more quickly.
    • The other restaurant, the Old Homestead Restaurant, is delicious and less expensive, but a much further walk. Keep this in mind if the temperatures are extremely low. However, it's still an expensive place to eat. A buffet dinner for three, including one drink each, two desserts, taxes, and tip was $142 USD in 2003.
    • If your child is near the age 12 limit, be sure to ask for the children's price (half the adult cost). We were charged full price for two meals in a row before we were smart enough to specify that our daughter was 12.
    • The restaurants are fairly expensive. However, sodas, warm beverages, and snacks are available in the reception building, and there is a grocery store about 400 meters away.
  • Activities:
    • Think seriously before booking a tour (dog sled, showmobile, etc.) if you will be at the Ice Hotel at its coldest time of year. Refunds are only available 30 days before the tour, 50% refunds are available up to 2 days before the tour. This means that by the time you arrive, it's too late to get your money back. Two employees warned us against taking the dog sled tour in -30°C (-22°F) weather, so we cancelled the tour that cost us 3060 SEK ($425 USD).
    • Tours for children may be half-price also. We didn't realize this until we returned home and tried to calculate how much money we lost on our cancelled dog sled tour, and discovered one of our brochures mentioned that children were half price. We booked our dog sled tour after our accommodations, so the booking agent probably didn't notice that our third person was a child and we were charged full price. Always, always, always ask for the child's price.
    • There are saunas, but the men's sauna and the women's sauna are in separate buildings a block apart. As a family traveling together, we were looking forward to taking a sauna, but decided not to when we learned how inconvenient it would be.
  • Accommodations:
    • The Aurora House is warm, comfortable, spacious, and well worth the price. With a grocery store in town, and a small kitchenette, you can save money on meals by eating in, especially since breakfast is included in the cost of the cabin.
  • Clothing:
    • You'll need warm outer clothing when you arrive and depart from the Ice Hotel, but they provide warm outer clothing which is probably warmer than what you may already have, including winter coveralls, fur lined hats, mittens, and boots. You'll also want to bring a balaclava to cover everything on your face except your eyes. They were also available for purchase in the gift shop for approximately $6 USD, which is a good investment when it's extremely cold.
    • We strongly recommend Arctic weight socks to wear inside the boots provided by the Ice Hotel. Wearing thick socks over thinner socks is also helpful.
  • Sleeping in the Ice Hotel:
    • The sleeping bags are excellent at keeping you warm, but your feet and hands are likely to get cold. Wear your mittens to bed, and bring along slippers or an additional pair of socks to wear over your Arctic-weight socks. Bring along some small air-activated hand warmers to slip in your socks if you're still cold.
    • There are warm restrooms in the luggage building next to the Ice Hotel, but we did not find showers.
    • When you get cold, plan on spending time warming up in the luggage building, or relaxing by the fire in the main reception building. After checking out of the Ice Hotel and before checking into warm accommodations, you'll probably need to kill some time in the reception building, too. Bring a book to pass the time.
  • Additional Tips:
    • There is a diploma list somewhere in the luggage room. If you sign this, a diploma/certificate will be printed and waiting for you when you check out. We didn't know about this until we checked out and asked about the stack of Ice Hotel diplomas. Fortunately, they offered to print some for us even though we hadn't signed the list. The diploma states that you've survived a night in the hotel, and includes the date, the lowest external temperature, and the lowest internal temperature.
    • Before arriving, try to pack everything you'll need for your overnight stay in one suitcase, since there is limited space to get into your suitcase in the luggage building, and it tends to be crowded.
    • Make your reservations as far in advance as possible. We made our reservation over a year in advance, and tried to change it six months later, but everything was already booked up.

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