The Icehotel (styled as ICEHOTEL) in the village of
Jukkasjarvi, about 17 kilometres (11 mi) from Kiruna, in northern
Sweden, was the world first ice hotel. After its first opening in 1990,
the hotel has been erected each year from December to April.
The hotel, including the chairs and beds, is constructed from snow and
ice blocks taken from the nearby Torne River. The structure remains
below freezing, around 23 °F (−5 °C).
In 1989, Japanese ice artists visited the area and created an exhibition
of ice art. In Spring 1990, French artist Jannot Derid held an
exhibition in a cylinder-shaped igloo in the same area. One night there
were no rooms available in the town, so some of the visitors asked for
permission to spend the night in the exhibition hall. They slept in
sleeping bags on top of reindeer skin, and were the first guests of the
The entire hotel is made out of snow and ice blocks taken from the Torne
River, even the glasses in the bar are made of ice. Each spring, around
March, Icehotel harvests tons of ice from the frozen Torne River and
stores it in a nearby production hall with room for over 10,000 short
tons (9,100 t) of ice and 30,000 short tons (27,200 t) of snow. The ice
is used for creating Icebar designs and ice glasses, which are used for
ice sculpting classes, events and product launches all over the world
while the snow is used for building a strong structure for the building.
About 1,000 short tons (900 t) of what is left is used in the
construction of the next Icehotel.
When the temperature drops and the snow guns start humming on the Torne
River shore, usually in mid-November, the building process begins. The
snow is sprayed on huge inverted catenary shaped steel forms and allowed
to freeze. After a couple of days, the forms are removed, leaving a maze
of free-standing corridors of snow. In the corridors, dividing walls are
built in order to create rooms and suites. Ice blocks are then
transported into the hotel, where selected artists start creating the
art and design of the perishable material. The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi
opens in phases. The first phase opens in the beginning of December. For
each week, another section of the hotel opens up for visitors and guests
until the beginning of January. At this time, the entire construction is
When completed, the hotel features a bar, church, main hall, reception
area, plus rooms and suites for over 100 guests. The furniture is
sculpted blocks of ice in the form of chairs and beds. There is also
warm accommodation available next to the hotel. The Icehotel in
Jukkasjärvi is known to be the biggest hotel of ice and snow in the
world, spanning over some 6,000 square metres (64,600 sq ft). Each suite
is unique and the architecture of the hotel is changed each year, as it
is rebuilt from scratch. Each year, artists submit their ideas for
suites, and a jury selects about 50 artists to create the church,
Absolut Icebar, reception, main hall and suites. When spring comes,
everything melts away and returns to the Torne River. The Icehotel only
exists between December and April, and has been listed as one of the
Seven Wonders of Sweden.
Documentaries that focus on this hotel can be seen from time to time on
the Discovery Channel and National Geographic. The Icehotel has guests
from many countries. There are many charter flights to the nearby Kiruna
Airport, directly from London.
Icehotel AB searched for business partners during the early and
mid-1990s, and the founder, Yngve Bergqvist, decided upon Absolut Vodka
as the first sponsor. The first Absolut Icebar opened in Icehotel in
1994, and today the concept is used in three cities: London, Stockholm
Several high-profile events around the Icehotel have since been
initiated by Absolut Vodka. In 1994, the extension was an advertising
shoot for Absolut Vodka to Jukkasjärvi, with photographer Herb Ritts.
Models Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Mark Findlay and Marcus Schenkenberg
were photographed surrounded by ice, wearing creations designed by
fashion designer Gianni Versace.
Guests are served vodka in glasses made of ice from the Torne River,
often described as a drink "in the rocks". Ice glasses at the bars are
brought from the production hall in Jukkasjärvi to the Icehotel. This is
also the case with the interior creations, because every six months they
are replaced on site by staff from the ice production and artists. This
is done to ensure quality and safety.
Icebar by Icehotel is a franchise concept for ice bar. The concept was
launched in spring 2009, with the opening of the Ice Bar CPH by Icehotel
in Copenhagen, Denmark. The bar was followed in June of that year by the
Ice Bar Tokyo by Icehotel in Tokyo, Japan, and shortly after, the Icebar
Oslo by Icehotel in Oslo, Norway.