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Sweden’s Pop-Up Icehotel Opens With Brand New Designs for This Winter

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The famous Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, unveiled completely updated icy interiors to celebrate its 30th anniversary during the 2019–2020 winter season.

Photo by Asaf Kliger

The famous Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, unveiled completely updated icy interiors to celebrate its 30th anniversary during the 2019–2020 winter season.

The igloo-inspired hotel made exclusively from snow and ice has unveiled freshly frozen sculptures and first-of-a-kind suites to celebrate its 30th anniversary this season.

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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. 

To date, more than 1 million international guests have stayed at the Swedish Lapland property, which sits about 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the village of Jukkasjärvi, an area known as a prime vantage point for Northern Lights viewing. In celebration of the Icehotel’s 30th anniversary this winter, the property brought together 33 international artists from 16 countries, including Sweden, France, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Poland, and the United States, to dream up the ephemeral interiors for this season’s Icehotel 30, which is now officially open to guests through March 7, 2020.

The hotel’s overhaul includes 15 suites made exclusively from ice, including “White Santorini” designed by architects Haemee Han and Jaeyual Lee of the United States and South Korea.

This year’s iteration of the igloo-inspired hotel in Swedish Lapland is a truly spectacular sight to see. The highly anticipated overhaul includes 15 art suites, a main hall, ceremony hall, Icebar, and 13-foot-tall ice tower that guests can climb to catch views of the surrounding frozen tundra. In total, about 1,000 blocks of frozen water—each of which weighed approximately 5,000 pounds—from the Torne River were used to build the pop-up facility this year. 

The Ceremony Hall, which is named “Gingko” after the Chinese tree symbolizing hope and longevity, features 30 stars carved into the ceiling for each year of Icehotel’s existence.

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Inside this year’s Icehotel 30, a suite called “A Night at the Theatre” features a West End–style stage complete with ice-carved curtains and a frozen bed in place of front-row seats. Another suite called the “Bone Room” includes design elements that nod to the hotel’s natural melting process as ice dissolves back into the Torne River each spring. The Ceremony Hall, or “Gingko,” pays homage to the namesake tree from China symbolizing hope, strength, and longevity, with 30 stars carved into the ceiling—one for each year of Icehotel’s existence. Additionally, the hotel property’s Icebar is carnival themed for the 2019–2020 winter season, with ice-carved hot air balloons, roller coasters, games, and (of course) cocktails on offer in the “TorneLand” space. 

For the 2019–2020 season, the IceBar called “TorneLand” is carnival themed as a tribute to the frozen hotel’s 30th anniversary.

In addition to the unique experience of sleeping on ice near the Arctic, guests can arrange to partake in winter adventures that include ice sculpting, snowmobiling, reindeer sleigh rides, Northern Lights photography classes, and guided Swedish sauna rituals as part of various Icehotel packages.

A three-night “Icehotel Break” package starts from $1,413 per person and includes one night in an Ice Room (with two nights in a warm Kaamos Room located nearby on the property), daily breakfast, and direct flights between Heathrow and Kiruna (approximately 3.5 hours in one direction), provided by Discover the World, the principal tour operator to the Icehotel. The United Kingdom–based company also recently opened its Icehotel bookings for winter 2020 through 2021, with prices currently the same as they are this season.

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After the Icehotel 30 closes for the season in March 2020, the unique frozen structure will melt and return the water to the Torne River. The permanent part of the hotel, an adjacent building that operates on solar power, called Icehotel 365, remains open to guests in Swedish Lapland throughout the year.

Each year, the frozen accommodations are constructed using approximately 8,000 gallons of water sourced from the nearby Torne River—the equivalent of over 700 million snowballs.
After Icehotel 30 closes for the season on March 7, 2020, the unique structure made of frozen water will melt and return to the river.

A three-night “Icehotel Break” package starts from $1,413 per person and includes direct flights between Heathrow and Kiruna provided by Discover the World.

This article originally appeared online in December 2016; it was updated on September 5, 2019, and again on December 19, 2019, to include current information. AFAR assistant editor Sarah Buder contributed reporting.

>>Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to Sweden

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