The release of the sketches for the next Icehotel is always an exciting moment in the year.
A sketch of a house of cards themed room, by Stephanie Knoedler and Martina Eriksson
The creations for 2016 appear to be typically weird and wacky. A room shaped like a house of cards, another in which the bed appears to float on waves of ice, even a room designed as an emotion – a whirl of passionate thoughts.
More than 40 artists from around the world will be involved in the creation of the hotel, which is built from a staggering 5,000 tons of ice harvested from the Torne River at Jukkasjärvi early in spring. As well as 55 bedrooms, it will feature a chapel, bar, hall and gallery.
I’ve seen some great sculptures over the years, though my favourite was perhaps one of the more conventional, a London Underground train. It won me over on nostalgia alone, because I used to live in the city. I’ve seen the artists in action, too. Their deft use of the tools, the way they work the snice – snow and ice combined – is something to behold.
Yet, while the Icehotel’s imaginative designs will always capture the public’s attention, the big news this year isn’t so much about the seasonal Icehotel but the new permanent structure, Icehotel 365, which will be built alongside the original and is due to open on 1 November.
A CGI drawing of Icehotel 365 during winter. Credit: Icehotel
Icehotel 365 will have 22 rooms and suites, an ice bar, sculpture gallery and studio, and an event space. Run on solar power, harnessed from the Midnight Sun, Icehotel 365 will combine sustainable energy with state-of-the-art architecture. The structure will be covered by a green turf roof, planted with Arctic flowers and varieties of grass, which rests on metal sheets to protect the building’s insulation and keep in the cold air. The arched inner ceiling will have built-in chilling tubes, maintaining a temperature of -5°C, and the inner walls will be covered in snow. Just like the classic winter-only structure, Icehotel 365 will be decorated with sculptures made from ice, and will offer guests the option of cold and warm rooms.
It’s too early to tell whether Icehotel 365 will capture the imagination of holidaymakers. With thousands of visitors making the trip here each winter, this extra capacity for cold rooms will certainly be welcome. But it also has the potential to open up the area to more visitors in summer. While Icehotel already has the infrastructure in place to host summer clients – and there are other hotel beds standing empty outside the main winter season – Icehotel 365 is likely to raise the profile of the area and could give it a well-needed boost at this time of year. That can only be good, because a more consistent stream of visitors will provide year-round jobs in tourism, improve customer service, and encourage a better standard of local infrastructure.
A CGI drawing of Icehotel 365 during summer. Creidt: Icehotel
One thing Icehotel 365 is sure to deliver is certainty in the uncertain world of global warming. For us, it offers a guarantee that customers visiting at the end and beginning of the season will be able to stay in an ice room. So far, that has been at the whim of Mother Nature.
It may seem odd to be looking at sketches of a hotel made of ice when summer is barely over. But at Simply Sweden we’ve been selling holidays to this year’s Icehotel since January – it’s all about the limited availability of flights and cold rooms. In fact, Icehotel is one of our bestsellers; we run four separate holidays here and also tailor trips as far flung as northern Norway and the Lofoten Islands to include a trip here, too.
This year we have partnered the Icehotel with some wilderness cabins on Lake Láddjujávri, in the shadow of Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise, which our guests will drive to on snowmobiles. These little rectangular wooden huts, also new this winter, are quite understated though the interiors have a touch of style. Most importantly, they have showers and electricity – now that’s what we call luxury in the true Arctic wilderness.
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