Chill out on holiday at these ice hotels

Ice hotels are some of the coolest places to spend the winter. Chris Carter looks at three of the best.

Hôtel de Glace: more snug and warm than it looks

Wild West in the far north

The Hôtel de Glace in Quebec, Canada, is rebuilt every year to new designs, says Sophie-Claire Hoeller on Insider. But as this year marks the hotel’s 20th anniversary, “the best designs from over the past two decades [are] on display”. Around half of the 42 rooms are intricately decorated to a theme, such as “Wild West”, “circus” or “underwater”. The hotel also has a bar, a lounge with a fireplace, a faux forest with snow trees, an indoor snow slide and a “stunning” ice chapel for weddings. 

The bed frame is a giant block of ice, “covered by a thin slat of wood and a surprisingly comfy mattress”. With the lights turned off and trying to sleep, “the silence is deafening” – but “I was snug and warm in my sleeping bag”. The cold “truly wasn’t an issue”. From C$399 (£230), valcartier.com/en

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An immersive art gallery

“It’s 1.30am and I’m lying on a king-size, reindeer-skin covered ice-block, trying to sleep,” says Laura Martin in the i newspaper. “Every part of my body – bar my nose – is tightly cocooned and warm in a hooded, heavy-duty sleeping bag, but the surrounding temperature is a teeth-chattering -4ºC.” The Icehotel in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi is 30 years old this year. It is carved out of blocks of ice hewn from the nearby Torne River in the far north.

During the day, people can wander in what is effectively an immersive art gallery. “By night, guests live among the freezing art pieces.” With the light refracting off the icy chandeliers, this could be Elsa’s castle in Frozen. “I gasp when I walk into the shimmering Golden Ice room, which is like stepping into a diamond ring. I shudder at the giant ants staring out of their burrows in the Subterranean room and take a pew by an entire theatre stage that’s been made out of frozen water.” From around SEK4,010 (£320), icehotel.com

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On top of the world

Tucked up in northern Norway, not far from the town of Alta, is the northernmost ice hotel in the world, and the second oldest. The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel has been rebuilt every year since 1999 to a specific theme, such as the Vikings, Nordic myths and legends and the wildlife of the Alta valley. It had just six rooms when it started and has grown to around 30 today. There is also an ice bar and an “excellent” restaurant, says David Nikel on Forbes. But “one of the most intriguing features” is the chapel, which plays host to several weddings each year.

There is, however, much to do besides sit in your snow-clad chamber. Guests can participate in a range of activities from ice-sculpting, dog-sledding and ice fishing in the Arctic, or simply relaxing in the outdoor Jacuzzi to admire the Northern Lights dancing across the sky. From NOK 2,690 (£220), sorrisniva.no

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