The Mail on Sunday‘s Jeremy Head spent a night in Sweden’s Icehotel, 150 miles above the Arctic circle. Its new 365 facility operates an array of frozen bedrooms during both the winter and summer. Jeremy slept in a room with mermaid ice sculptures, and had a thrilling but somewhat restless night…
I spent last night in a fridge with two mermaids. I hoped we’d all get on, but they were cold as ice.
It wasn’t the best night’s sleep I’ve had, but it was certainly one of the coolest things I’ve done.
Sweden’s Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi is world-famous. Every winter they build a hotel from ice and snow filled with shimmering sculptures of ethereal creatures.
At least it used to. My night in an Icehotel room took place in mid-summer.
They still build a new ice hotel each winter, but those clever Swedes have also added permanent ice suites and an ice bar.
They call this bit Icehotel 365. It’s just opened. Now you can sleep in an ice room, while outside there’s sunlight all night.
This being Sweden, it’s high-tech and environmentally friendly. I wandered around a chilly warehouse stacked with vast blocks of ice: 2,700 tons of it.
They harvest it in spring when it’s at its hardest and store it to build next winter’s hotel. The warehouse and Icehotel 365 are kept at -5C by solar energy, powered by panels on the warehouse roof.
I prepared for my night on ice with a sauna ritual. I thwacked myself with birch branches, washed with tar soap, sweated buckets, jumped in the icy river and wallowed in an outdoor hot tub.
Then I feasted on the special Ice Menu, which included smoky reindeer steak and arctic raspberry sorbet before I chilled in the Ice Bar. Even late at night, midsummer sunlight cascaded in through a window.
There are 20 rooms in the cold section of Icehotel 365, created by sculptors from around the world (there are also ‘warm’ rooms with heated stone floors). One of the 20 cold ones features a vast stag sculpture, another is full of huge jellyfish.
I picked up a thermal sleeping bag and headed to my room. It’s called Mermaid Fitness. Two 8ft mermaids with bulging biceps were ‘working out’ either side of my bed. Zipping the bag right up felt claustrophobic but it was freezing.
It took me a while to drop off. The air felt clammy and I was glad I’d brought a hat. After a restless night, I woke with a start next morning when someone brought in a cup of hot lingonberry juice.
The mermaids were still exercising. It didn’t look as if they’d even broken sweat.