Don't expect a warm welcome at Sweden's frosty Icehotel

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 12:00am

It is no use complaining to the manager of the Icehotel if your nose gets cold during the night. What else do you expect if you stay in a hotel made out of snow and ice? You don't come here to relax in the sunshine and top up your tan.

The Icehotel is situated 200km north of the Arctic circle in Sweden. Here the winters are cold. Seriously cold. The famous Icehotel is a single-storey building with about 60 guest rooms. But that can vary from season to season because every year the hotel is different.

It all begins at the end of October each year. The Arctic winter kicks in, and a team of special builders begins to construct the year's hotel ready for guests to arrive.

During the previous winter, blocks of snow and ice have been carefully cut out of the frozen Torne River and stored in the Icehotel Art Centre, a 1,500-square-metre giant freezer. It usually takes about eight weeks to complete the building and 30,000 tonnes of ice are used. Special machines pack snow onto an iron frame and blocks of ice are used just like bricks and concrete would be used in a normal building.

Artists carve windows, doors, tables, lamps and statues out of blocks of ice. Everything in the hotel is made out of ice. There is even an ice bar, an ice chapel and an ice cinema with an ice screen in the hotel.

The beds in your room are made out of ice and tightly packed snow covered with a wooden board, a mattress and reindeer skins. Guests sleep in a specially-designed thermal sleeping bag because temperatures in the hotel fall well below seven degrees Celsius during the night.

The season for the Icehotel is January to April. And as Spring peeks round the corner, the inevitable happens. The sun makes its first appearance and the hotel begins to melt. But there are already tonnes of ice stashed away in the freezer ready to begin building the next one.

Graphic: 2201P4GYO