The New Ice Age Above The Arctic Circle: The IceHotel

Last Revised: $Revision: 1.39 $, $Date: 2005/11/22 07:10:19 $
Entrance gate to the ~Icehotel~  in Jukkasja Drink in the unique ice-glass Ice room Ice instruments shadow
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18 till 20 February 2004

"How big is Kiruna?" ask the lady next to me. She looked a bit puzzled when I told her that Kiruna is one of the biggest cities of the world. From the area of course, from the area. Otherwise the 20'000 square kilometer large city has only 26000 inhabitants. 20'000 square kilometer. That is about half sie size if Switzerland, 2/3 of Netherland. It is the most northern town of Sweden located 120 kilometer above the arctic circle. It used to be a mining town until the the 70th.

There is no regular bus from and to the airport, just tour operator busses to the Icehotel which have to be booked in advanced. The only possibility and the cheapest alternative is the taxi for 200 SEK - Call 12012 (Taxi Kiruna AB)


I had an advanced booking for the Yellow House , one of the many private and affordable hostels. A single room costs 300 SEK (34 EUR) per night a double double 400 SEK (45 EUR) a bed in dome room 120 SEK (14 EUR) linen 50 SEK (5.5 EUR) and breakfast 50 SEK (5.5 EUR) as well. Weeks before only the single room where available, ant it was totally booked like every hostel here in Kiruna, the owner said. Don't take chances and come here in the winter, the main season, without booking while it is usually -20 C to -30C outside.
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Ice suite with the theme Rock'n Roll Ice worker Ice church Ice bar shadow
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With -7C it was unusual warm for the season but at least I had two sunny days. Last week it was -25 and the week before -30 the receptionist like an excuse.
I went to the Jukkasjärvi by bus line 501. That is of course where the Icehotel is the only hotel that is rebuild every year.
Five suspicious looking black car, so prototypes otherwise known as Erlkönige I glanced through the window. They often come for the Icehotel e to get some variation to the boring work days.
I went to the restaurant across the road and took a nice Buffet including salade, a soup, salmon and potatoes as main course, juice and cake as desert for affordable 120 SEK It is funny that cars in the middle of nowhere driving 80 km/h are just stopping for you on an empty street on the country road to let you cross.
I checked in. I got a nice room next to the art exhibition for 2490 SEK (274 EUR).
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Ice Globe Theater shadow
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Unfortunately a large portion of the 45'000 tourist each season visiting the Icehotel is made up typical mass-beach-tourists which gives the whole thing a unpleasant touch. Of course the Japanese tourist are not missing. But everywhere I meet some nice ones. A season last from December to April, when the hotel starts to melt down. Jukkasjärve has in contrast only a population of 600, so it is everything about the Ice-hotel.
I checked in and got room 104 next to the exhibition. In the luggage room every night guest gets a warm locker. The luggage room and warm reception is open 24-7. Yes there is a regular reception placed in a wood house called warm reception and a cold one at the entrance gate to the Icehotel. At 17:00h I took a guided tour. The guide explained that the hotel is build by spraying snow on huge forms an then these forms are then removed. Therfore the basic design stays the same every year. Just the ice interior build of ice change and pillars shape round to square.

Ice marriage Snow road Ice sculptures ~Icehotel~ shadow
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The ice is harvested in the Torne river behind the hotel complex in March and stored during the summer in the cooling warehouse where you can also see an ice exhibition. Normally the snow on the ice isolate and the ice would only get a couple of decimeter. Therfore the snow is cleared and the cold can reach the ice so it grows over a meter deep. This is the only place in the world, so the guide explains, where the water is so clear and clean that look trough the ice.

Line 501 from Kiruna Bus station to Jukkasjärvi: 06:25, 07:00, 09:10, 13:00, 14:35, 15:25, 16:40, 18:10.
Line 501 from Jukkasjärvii to Kiruna Bus station : 5:20, 07:20, 08:10, 10:00, 14:00, 15:25, 16:25, 17:30, 18:40.
The trip duration: 30 minutes.


I rented some snow shoes in the Adventure Center belonging to the Icehotel . One German man booked a snow mobile tour. It is their last day here in Sweden. They were testing heating systems of newly developed cars here. This wee is not a good choice. It is between -5C and +3C. Last week would be better - it was -25C and the week before even -30C
At 18:00h the Icehotel is reserved for night guests. At about 22:00 I took my sleeping bag, which works up to -15C, and the linen. You lay on a bed with a regular frame placed on ice blocks or pillars.

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Ice reception Snow worker Ice suite Famous Absolute Ice bar guest? shadow
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The suites are designed by 30 artists and each have a special theme build from ice :nd light: Flying sourer, motorcycle bar, arctic animal suite ... One thing is not allowed the guide said : color the ice! I think it would be allowed if but is is rather impossible - how would one color ice that build itself in a flowing river.

As it is -4C inside. On the mattress lay reindeer skins. I just used the linen and the sleeping back to cover me as a blanket. There is nothing special about sleeping here. A down blanket would be more comfortable. At 7:00h get a friendly "God moron" and a paper mug of hot cowberry juice from the wake up lady. The included breakfast buffet taking place the restaurant, is excellent and includes all you expect from a good hotel. There were plenty of ice rooms available at a rate of 275 EUR or more but no cabins which may have been booked as early as four month before.

Drilling the whole through the one meter thick ice Ice fishing Teh snow man Polar flight shadow
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Shafiq wanted to go ice fishing because he does allot of fishing home in Tanzania. So his father rented a the Ice fishing dill and fishing rod from the Adventure Center. We tied to dig a whole into for one hours and a quarter. We put our weight on the drill turning with the drill until we got dizzy and tumble like drunk. It looked really funny and any witness would probably laugh and rolled around the floor. So what important technique do we miss here we ask us. After one hour Shafiq father dad finally hit the water. And we screamed: Yes we got it!
Then a man walked up and just dig a whole in minute.
The absolute Ice bear in the absolute ice bar shadow
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One attraction is the Absolute Ice Bar where you get drink in ice glasses. There is also one Absolute Ice Bar in Stockholm and they also plan to build 15 more around the world the guide explains.
A ice church belongs to the complex where 150 couples marring each year. After it is build with the rest of the complex it is handed over to the Swedish church. The number of marriages is limited to 150: " We don't want to get another Las Vegas" the church says.
Of course one attraction is to see the polar lights. The are many tours offered. What they don't tell you is that it needs two ingredients to see the polar lights. One is obvious: a clear sky! The other is some sun activity. See spaceweather.com







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