While we in the U.S. are looking forward to Spring’s budding flora, 124 miles north of the Artic Circle in Sweden, lies at least one more month of winter. It is here, in the town of Jukkasjärvi (“meeting place”) in the Swedish Lapland, that world famous architects, sculptors, and designers submit their designs to the IceHotel in hopes that they will be chosen to contribute to its annual building… even though their contributions will melt after four or five months.
Why have designers competed for 19 years for the privilege of contributing their works to the IceHotel? The challenge, the camaraderie, the experience of working in a different medium (ice!), the adventure of working in -30°C…?
This year’s IceHotel will be open until mid-April so you can still visit the hotel’s marvelous 2009 designs. But if cold is not your idea of adventure, at least look at the pictures. They are truly amazing.
Here is a preview of what you will find before the IceHotel melts back into the Torne River.
1. Main Entrance, 2009, The IceHotel
The shell of the IceHotel is actually a massive structure encompassing the main entrance, supporting walls, and covering for the hotel. This structure is very similar from year to year, but the interiors and sculptures are always new. Here, before the main entrance is “Slightly Off,” an ice sculpture by Åke Larsson, Mikael Nille Nilsson & Sofi Ruotsalainen of Sweden.
2. Main Hall, 2009, The IceHotel
This year, Anders Eriksson and Arne Bergh, two Swedish carpenters, designed the main hall with these cube-come-cylindrical columns and ice crystal chandeliers to bring as much light, sparkle, and playfulness into the “Crystal Hall” as possible.
3. Absolut Icebar, 2009, The IceHotel
Absolut(ely) fabulous, this Roaring 20’s style bar named after Sweden’s most famous vodka, is intricately scupted by Mark Armstrong, an English architect, and Lena Kriström, Swedish sculptor. How would you like to down your Absolut Mandrinoska in this icebar?
Guest Suites At The 2009 IceHotel
Now, let’s get to a few of the many guest rooms, each custom-designed and one more spectacular than the next. The beds — yes, this is a real hotel — are mounted on a large block of ice and covered with reindeer skins. Atop the deer skins, you sleep in a sleeping bag; hopefully, you are covered in long underwear with lots of layers of pajamas. Although it may be -30° outside, it’s never less than -8° inside the hotel, so don’t worry too much.
Guests are awakened early with a glass of hot lingonberry juice. Then a breakfast buffet and morning sauna. Don’t be surprised if you’re out by 10:00 A.M. and can’t return to your lodging before 6:00 P.M. During the day, the IceHotel functions as a museum. For those of you who can’t tolerate the cold, there are lodgings very nearby that are heated.
4. Ho-Shi To Tsu-ki, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
Looking so inviting, despite the cold, designer/woodworker Hiroyoshi Saka, from Japan, pays tribute to the night and the moon and stars that are so splendid in the night sky.
5. Getting Cold Feet, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
A dig at consumerism, designers Ben Rousseau and INSA from England created large “leg columns” with rather pointed-toed shoes. The bed… a pretty blue ice shoe, with a high headboard in skin print.
6. Mush-Room, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
Layers and layers of forested mushrooms surround your dreams in this fairy tale suite by Liliya Pobornikova, award-winning sculptor, and Viktor Tsarski, architect and sculptor, from Bulgaria.
7. The Queen of Ice, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
A tribute to your queen, designers Natsuki Munakata and Shingo Saito of Japan introduce layers of gentle, lacy ice work to this regal bedroom, even designing a special bed frame and headboard for the queen.
8. Chasing Penguins, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
The submarine chamber is cleverly and whimsically designed for the guest explorer by English designer Mark Armstrong.
9. Funnyture, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
This well-furnished suite comes with night table, desk, chair, and wardrobe from the design pair of Åke Larsson and Mikael Nille Nilsson of Sweden. This guest suite should make you feel more at home.
10. Trompe l’oeil, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
Perhaps this lovely chamber was smaller, so you only have the illusion of furniture. As difficult as it is to create effective trompe l’oeil, imagine how it was to sculpt it! Mikael Nille Nilsson and Sofi Ruotsalainen of Sweden accomplished it marvelously. Look at the reflection of the window sill on the floor. It looks so 3-dimensional.
11. Broken Surface, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
David Andrén and Daniel of Ampersand, Swedish designers, create a brilliant illusion of light and layers in the Broken Surface, a wonderful spot for contemplation.
12. Get Bad, Guest Suite 2009, The IceHotel
There are many travel specials to this adventure in the Artic. The IceHotel even has conference and even facilities… some heated. And if you are staying at the IceHotel, bring the warmest undergarments and clothing; the hotel will supply your outerwear! Cool?