When the Icehotel first opened on a seasonal basis in 1989, the Swedish establishment became the world’s first hotel made of snow and ice. In the three decades since, the incredibly “cool” hotel has been reborn as a pop-up each winter, using almost 8,000 gallons of water sourced from the nearby Torne River to construct the frozen accommodations anew.
The Swedish Lapland property, which sits about 124 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the village of Jukkasjärvi, appears annually in an area known as a prime vantage point for Northern Lights viewing. This year’s Icehotel 31 (named in reference to its 31st season) is currently open through April 11, 2021.
Icehotel 31 opened in mid-December with 12 one-of-a-kind “Art Suites” made from Torne River ice, as well as an intimate ceremony hall for weddings and other events. The Swedish Lapland property also debuted six brand-new suites in Icehotel 365, an adjacent part of the hotel that includes permanent ice rooms, an ice art gallery, and an icebar (all open year-round).
A two-night “Icelebrate” package starts from $589 per person and includes one night in a frozen “Art Suite,” one night in a warm Kaamos Room located nearby on the property, plus breakfast and champagne upon arrival. While Icehotel 31 offers extensive information about how to reach the remote property on its website, most people won’t be able to visit the destination due to COVID-19 travel restrictions across the globe.
With that in mind, the Swedish Lapland property created an augmented reality (AR) experience on Instagram where users can peek inside the spectacular frozen hotel before its structure melts back into the Torne River this spring. You can check out the AR room tours by opening this link on your smartphone.
The igloo-inspired hotel’s unique ice suites were designed by a select group of 35 Swedish artists. (The hotel usually commissions artists from around the world to design its seasonal ice rooms, but the pandemic forced a different approach this year, Icehotel creative director Luca Roncoroni said in a press release.)
In total, about 1,300 blocks of frozen water were used to build the pop-up facility for the 2020–2021 season. This year’s ephemeral accommodations include such inspired ice sculptures as an abandoned hot dog stand in one suite and a massive handcarved sea monster in another. The “Ceremony Hall Skogen” (which translates to “Forest”) depicts a frozen woodland area overgrown with branches and ice trees.
Here’s a (2D) preview of the icy interiors:
This article originally appeared online in December 2016; it was updated on January 6, 2021, to include current information. AFAR assistant editor Sarah Buder contributed reporting.