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World’s 10 Coolest Ice Hotels

The world’s coolest hotels may not be built to last, but the memory of staying the night inside one of these amazing ice hotels is something that won’t soon fade away--from Norway to Switzerland, from Finland to Romania, these are 10 incredible ice hotels around the world

These magnificent structures are created entirely from ice and packed snow, and feature truly outstanding meltable art, in the form of snow sculptures and ice carvings. They may be chilly, but what these hotels lack in warmth, they make up for in creative amenities like a gondola that doubles as a sauna, ice-molded cocktail glasses and dinnerware, and reindeer-fueled sled rides. Here’s where to check-in for an unforgettable experience.

Related: The Best Ski Resorts in the U.S.

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PHOTO: Iris van den Broek/Shutterstock
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Hotel Kakslauttanen Igloo Village

WHERE: Saariselka, Finland

Visitors to Igloo Village Kakslauttanen in Finland can sleep inside a glass igloo. The amazing frost-resistant thermal glass of the glass igloos provides amazing views of the northern lights and starry sky. Guests can stroll through the impressive ice sculpture gallery and try their hand at this chilly craft, or request a unique, personal sculpture to decorate their igloo. Kids will enjoy a visit to Santa’s Resort where they can visit Santa’s house, sip hot drinks and munch on ginger biscuits by elves, and make friends with the local reindeer. For a truly Nordic experience, book a own reindeer-drawn sled ride.

When to Go: Year-round, excluding May

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Iglu-Dorf Gstaad

WHERE: Gstaad, Oberland, Switzerland

Each of the suites inside this igloo village is connected by an intricate tunnel system, where up to 42 guests can sleep beneath the snow packed ceilings of this icy retreat. Iglu-Dorf Gstaad features a complete wellness area with a sauna and whirlpool, as well as a central grill hut where guests can warm up around a warm fire. Rooms vary from heated suites for six people to romantic caverns with carved sculptures lining the walls. Guests wanting a more hands-on experience can take part in the build-your-own Love Nest program, where couples work side-by-side to complete their own igloo from handmade ice blocks.

When to Go: January-March

Related: Switzerland Travel Guide

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PHOTO: Cristian Puscasu/Shutterstock
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Hotel of Ice

WHERE: Balea Lac, Romania

Nestled in a mountain valley built on top of a frozen glacial lake, the Hotel of Ice is perhaps the ultimate snow escape. Guests can choose to stay in one of the hotel’s sub-zero rooms or claim their own private igloo near the hotel. After warming your hands by a flickering fire after an icy sleep, visitors can dine at the Chalet Balea Lac’s restaurant, serving traditional Transylvanian and Romanian dishes. The Hotel’s Winter Park offers the usual wintry activities like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating, but it also arranges snowball fights, snowman-building competitions, and ice bowling.

When to Go: January to March

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PHOTO: Smelov/Shutterstock
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Snow Village Finland

WHERE: Kittilä, Finland

Visitors can make a grand entrance on snowmobile to this winter wonderland, complete with rounded snow tunnels glowing with colorful lights and decorated with intricate ice carvings. For a frost-free night’s sleep, Snow Village has log cabins in the area for a longer stay. Exciting activities include embarking on a husky-drawn ride, taking a moonlight reindeer safari (where you harness and steer your own reindeer), or partaking in a traditional Lappish ceremony. For the ultimate winter indulgence, you can enjoy a three-course dinner at the frozen Ice Restaurant, or grab a frosty drink in an ice glass at the Ice Bar.

When to Go: December to April

Related: Helsinki Travel Guide

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PHOTO: kakoki/Shutterstock
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ICEHOTEL

WHERE: Near Kiruna, Sweden

One of the world’s best-known sub-zero palaces is Sweden’s ICEHOTEL, built from the frozen water of the Torne River. Guests can start their stay by hitching a ride to the hotel via dogsled. Surprisingly warm beds are ice blocks covered in reindeer skins. During the day, guests can explore the unique “ski in, ski out” photography and light exhibit about the construction of ICEHOTEL, or adventure into the frozen wilderness on horseback to see the Northern Lights. The hotel’s restaurants serve food on—wait for it—glistening ice-cube plates.

When to Go: Year-round

Related: Sweden Travel Guide

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PHOTO: Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock
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The SnowCastle of Kemi

WHERE: Kemi, Finland

This 14-room snow castle has been a destination for magnificent ice sculptures and frozen beauty since it an in 1996. Built anew every season in a different architectural style, the castle takes about six weeks to construct. Guests can enjoy a meal around the glistening ice tables at the SnowRestaurant, enjoying specialties like cream of smoked reindeer soup or a filet of reindeer with game sauce and lingonberries. The castle also hosts the SnowChapel, where marriage ceremonies or christenings can be performed. During the season numerous shows are held at the castle’s snow stage.

When to Go: January to April

 

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PHOTO: Stacie C/Shutterstock
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Hotel de Glace

WHERE: Quebec City, Canada

Located on the grounds of Village Vacances Valcartier resort, only a few minutes from downtown Quebec City, the glittering Hotel de Glace features 42 rooms and incredible snow art. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with a cocktail served in an ice glass to sip while standing around smooth ice tables. Fortunately, there are plenty of warm blankets covering beautifully sculpted ice couches. The Behind the Scenes tour shows how the immense snow and ice hotel is created, and guests can visit the Ice Workshop to make their own ice cocktail glass. Overnight guests sleep in comfortable sub-zero sleeping bags and get to enjoy Jacuzzis under the stars. We recommend splurging on the premium deluxe theme suite that comes with its own fireplace and private spa.

When to Go: January to March

Related: The Best Things to Do in Quebec City

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PHOTO: NevraPictures/Kirkenes snowhotel
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Kirkenes Snowhotel

WHERE: Kirkenes, Norway

At the Kirkenes Snowhotel in Norway, snow-suites feature decorations and sculptures made from ice and snow. SnowHotel’s overnight guests are greeted with a drink made from local berries and then enjoy a locally-sourced, three-course dinner. Afterward, they can wander the snowy lodge and pet the resident reindeers and friendly huskies. Adventures offered through the hotel include an arctic king crab fishing tour, a northern lights tour by husky ride, or a cross-country skiing tour.

When to Go: December to April

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PHOTO: Sorrisniva
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Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel

WHERE: Alta, Norway

This frosty igloo hotel offers icy accommodations for any snow prince or princess. Guests stay in one of the igloo’s decorated ice rooms or sleep under the stars in a lavvo—a teepee-like tent of the Sami people of Norway. One of Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel’s must-do adventures is a snowmobile safari, which takes guests into the mountains and offers impressive panoramic views. Many guests head to the on-site sauna after your night spent in this winter wonderland.

When to Go: December to mid April

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PHOTO: Rita Januskeviciute/Shutterstock
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Schneedorf Igloo

WHERE: Austria

Located 2,000 meters above sea level, this Austrian snow village’s ideal altitude makes it accessible through all weather conditions during the winter season. Daytime visitors can test their skills on the adventurous High Wire Garden outdoor course along the backdrop of Ötz valley mountain scenery or learn to build their own igloo with the Igloo Construction Workshop. Overnight guests at Schneedorf Igloo are welcomed in with a warm drink of tea or mulled wine before cozying in for a cheese fondue dinner and snooze inside the village’s pre-made igloos. Classic igloos can sleep up to four people with two double beds, and include sleeping bags and liners, as well as a complimentary hot breakfast in the morning.

When to Go: December through March

Related: Vienna Travel Guide