It is in the coldest corners of our planet and in the highest of mountains that ice truly stands a chance to win against its archenemy, heat. This is also where nature allows for majestic, opulent palaces to be born out of mere frozen water and snow. Sure, they may not be as practical as the Inuit's igloos, but they will show you that sleeping in a bed of ice can be much cozier than you might imagine.
Hotel de Glace
Only a few minutes from downtown Quebec, Canada, the magnificent Hotel de Glace is reconstructed each year in December. It takes five weeks to complete its 18-foot tall ceilings, massive snow vaults, 44 themed rooms and suites, movie theater, night club, convention center and Grand Ice Slide, a total of 32,000 square feet of icy paradise.
Kick off your stay with an ice cider served in an ice flute at an ice table in the ice bar. Too much ice for you? Don't worry, your room will be cozily chilly. Luckily, there are plenty of fireplaces and hot tubs to keep you toasty.
Feast your eyes on the colorfully-lit snow sculptures, learn how to make your own ice glasses, check out the outdoor spa and sauna or tie the knot in the ice chapel.
Sweden's Icehotel hold the record for the world's largest and oldest ice hotel! A fun feature the hotel offers - the option of booking one of their unique suites with “tropical” temperatures between 41 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The other 50 rooms, as well as everything else inside, are kept at temperatures below freezing.
Some 125 miles above the Arctic Circle, in the small village of Jukkasjärvi, a stay at the Icehotel is not just about the rooms, but also about enticing outdoor activities like rafting, ice fishing, husky sledding, snowmobile safaris and moose watching. Oh, and let's not forget the Icehotel is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights.
Kirkenes Snow Hotel
How many people can brag about fishing above the Arctic Circle? In northeastern Norway, Kirkenes Snow Hotel entertains its guests with Arctic King Crab fishing safaris and ocean-sea fishing tours in the nearby Barents Sea.
You can explore the Arctic fjords and Russia's wilderness by snowmobile, cross-country skiing or dog sledding. Kirkenes lies right in the middle of the Northern Lights zone, where the polar night lasts from late November through January, a great time and place to see the idyllic Aurora Borealis.
After a long day of outdoor activities, you can retire to your humble abode in one of the Snow Suites. Each suite adorned with remarkable snow art, candles and lined with animal skins and furs. In the evenings, mingle with other guests at the Snow Bar, Norway's largest ice bar!
The SnowCastle of Kemi
From late January until mid April, the world's biggest snow castle opens its doors to visitors, who are welcome to spend the night in one of the 21 rooms, chill out in the Snow Lounge and embark on a reindeer sledding adventure in the wilderness of the Finnish Lapland.
The SnowCastle of Kemi in Finland, 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle, features a new theme each year. Rooms include a Snow Chapel, restaurant with local specialties, indoor playground for children, theater, ice gallery and even a special honeymoon suite.
The cartoon-themed snowcastle is considered the world's "biggest snow fort," with 65-f00t tall ice towers and 3,000-foot long, 12-foot high snow walls.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
In the middle of Finland's pristine forests, 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle, lie Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort's igloos. Guests can choose between futuristic glass-ceiling igloos, excellent for viewing the Northern Lights, snow igloos accommodating up to five people, or a comfy room in the log cabin.
Finland's igloo village may look like something from the pages of a Sci-Fi, but it is actually what happens outdoors that is the true highlight of the place. Between December and April, visitors can go on snowmobile and reindeer safaris, ice fishing or husky sledding, all under the translucent dance of the Aurora Borealis. Kakslauttanen is also home to the world's largest snow restaurant and smoke sauna.
The Iglu-Dorf igloo villages, located in the Alps, can truly make the chill of wintertime magical. These seven locations throughout Switzerland, Germany and Andorra are open from Christmas through Easter and are guaranteed to make you feel like a true Eskimo.
Let's first stop at the Engelberg Igloo Village in the Central Swiss Alps, shall we? Located on the ski slopes of Titlis at an altitude of 5,900 feet and accessible only by cable car, it is the biggest igloo village in Switzerland. The igloos can accommodate up to six guests and are decorated with intricate sculptures and sheepskin rugs. It's also equipped with sleeping bags and hot tubs to keep frostbite away.
Start your day with a hot tea, join a workshop where you can carve your own snow sculpture, hike around the Trübsee Lake, hit the slopes, or simply lay back on the deck chairs and prepare for a nighttime snowshoeing trip under the starry sky of the Alps.
Hotel of Ice
If it's remoteness you want, look no further than Transylvania. In Romania, 6,700 feet high in the Carpathian Mountains, the Hotel of Ice is only accessible by cable car or hiking a long, tiresome path.
As the first ice hotel in Eastern Europe, the Hotel of Ice opened its frozen doors in 2005, and is reconstructed each year with water from the nearby B?lea glacial lake. Four-foot long bricks of ice are used to build the structure expected to last from January through March. All furniture is made of ice and accompanied by cozy blankets and furs.
Once here, some pretty challenging daytime activities await winter sports enthusiasts. Besides the vast number of strenuous hikes on the surrounding snow-covered peaks and ridges, mountaineers can go ice climbing or do some downhill skiing before serving a frosty cocktail at the Sub Zero Ice Bar.
We think these ice hotels are pretty cool, both literally and figuratively! These chilly destinations are a great excuse to befriend the cold and explore the Arctic and Alpine winters like a true Eskimo. So, are you ready for a brain freeze? And one more thing, don't forget to pack some warm clothes.