Making ice hotels cool again
The main restaurant in Finland’s Snow Castle of Kemi, the biggest snow fort in the world.
Despite needing to be rebuilt year after year, the number of ice hotels has multiplied across the Arctic Circle in the past decade.
But the novelty concept lost some of its lustre after an ice palace appeared in the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day. Keen to stay cool in travellers’ minds, today’s snow structures have fashioned other frozen water features to stand out from the icy pack.
World’s longest ice slide
This year, the Hôtel de Glace in Quebec City will move its Grand Ice Slide (or Grande Glissade) outside, in order to build it bigger than ever. At 64ft long and 20ft high, it will hold the record for the longest covered slide made completely from snow and ice. Although the hotel has already opened for the season, the slide is scheduled to open on 28 January.
Many ice hotels have small chapels to use for weddings, but Romania’s Hotel of Ice goes so far as to sanctify the water used to build their four-metre high church that can fit about 50 people. In the German Bavarian town of Mitterfirmiansreut, residents recently constructed a 65ft-long ice church, called “God’s igloo” by locals. It honours the 100-year anniversary of a similar structure that the townspeople built in 1911 to avoid the 90-minute walk to the closest brick and mortar church.
Guests have the chance to warm up by getting down at the igloo disco in Finland’s Snow Village. The illuminated ice dance floor is an extension of the resort’s IceBar, where even the drinks are served in ice-moulded glasses.
Not content to compete with standard ice hotels, Finland’s Snow Castle of Kemi builds the biggest snow fort in the world each year, with some towers reaching more than 20m tall and walls stretching 1,000m long. Because local weather has been unseasonably warm, the opening of the Snow Castle has been pushed back to 28 January this year, but will be open to both day visitors and overnight guests who stay at the attached snow hotel.