travel

{take me away № 13 | a wintry escape}

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quebec24An alabaster, wintry frost hardly seems like the warmest of welcomes, but the magic of the icy snow that glistens like diamonds layered upon diamonds, encompasses guests and the glow of an intoxicating combination of warm and cool lights, and the intrigue of the lines and carvings, without a doubt fades any perceptions of a cold reception.

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And so it is, the gentle and hushed spell of winter has been cast, and for a short time, we see snow itself in a whole new and beautiful light . . .

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A L I T T L E H I S T O R Y

An ice hotel is one that is temporary, generally existing from the months of December to April, weather dependent. Each year, the structure is made afresh with sculpted blocks of ice and steel framing, and typically held together by a substance known as snice. Inside, you may find a new theme created each year, as well as incredible ice sculptures placed throughout.

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More recently, ice hotels have become more elaborate in design, offering special lighting, intricate design details, and even plush velvet curtains for added luxury and comfort. Furthermore, (and perhaps surprisingly), many have remarked at how wonderfully restful their sleep has been, bundled up in warm sleeping bags, after spending a night at an ice hotel.

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t h e f i r s t i c e h o t e l

Quite well known, the ICEHOTEL was the very first of all ice hotels to ever be created. Tucked in the village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, the hotel was first constructed back in 1989. At the time, Japanese ice artists visited the area and created an exhibition of ice art, and in the spring of 1990, French artist Jannot Derid held another exhibition in a cylinder-shaped igloo in the area.

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Fascinatingly, the entire hotel (including the glasses used in the bar area) is made of snow and ice taken from Torne River. And at 64,000 square feet (6,000 square meters), this destination hotel is widely recognized as the largest ice hotel in the world.

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Today, we explore a lovely selection of world-renowned ice hotels, selected from all different points of the world. And with that, we invite to you join us on an incredible winter adventure . . .

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01 | SnowCastle: Kemi, Finland

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The wintry night outside is dark and cold, the thermometer shows -30 degrees Celsius. After we enter the SnowHotel, the air inside our room feels warm. The room is like a tiny nest inside the snow, and not even a hush can be heard as I look at the fabric in the colors of Aurora Borealis, dug deep into my sleeping bag on the bed…”

~ guest from Finland

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A wondrous castle unlike any other, the SnowCastle in Kemi, Finland is considered the largest snow fort in the world. Each year since 1996, the castle is constructed by local contractors with a new theme, this year’s being sports. The SnowCastle takes approximately five weeks to build, and welcomes both adults and children.

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As for the rooms, there is a choice of double rooms or honeymoon suites, all of which have been decorated by local artists using local materials, and include many luxuries.

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There is also a SnowRestaurant, with ice tables, sculptures, as well as a SnowChapel that welcomes 50-100 guests, and has hosted numerous weddings for guests that have traveled from all over the world, including as far as Hong Kong and Japan.
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There are weekly and weekend events including: concerts, magic performances, opera singing and much more. Beyond the icy castle walls, there is an exterior lounge and gift shops that welcome guests to eat, relax and shop — indeed, a most dreamy and wondrous destination . . .

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01 | Sorrisniva: Alta, Norway

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Considered an igloo ice hotel, Sorrisniva measures approximately 2000 square meters, with the entire exterior and interior made completely of snow and ice, re-built every year since 2000. An exquisitely detailed archway welcomes guests to explore each and every space of the igloo—with the many sculptures and surprises; one doesn’t want to miss a thing!

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The individual ice chambers, or rooms, primary contain sleeping quarters, while other facilities, such as restrooms, changing rooms, showers and the sauna are in the warm service building to ensure your comfort. And, apart from its 30 well-considered bedrooms, the Igloo Hotel houses suites, an ice-chapel, an ice-bar and several lounges. There is also a remarkable restaurant, serving wonderful local cuisine. Over the years, there have also been a number of weddings to take place here.

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During your stay, there are a number of activities to partake in—particularly if you enjoy the great outdoors. One may go dog sledding, on riverboat excursions, on snowmobile safaris, fishing and much more. Well-respected for their service, upon arrival and check, guests are offered guided tours of the hotel and receive further practical information regarding their stay at the marvelous Sorrisniva.

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From November to January, the sun never rises above the horizon in Finnmark – Norwegian Lapland. But even during this dark season, there are a couple of hours of twilight, which can be incredibly beautiful. We call this the blue light. During the autumn and winter, when the skies are clear, you can experience the fantastic Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. The sight of the Northern Lights dancing across the skies in hues of green, pink and purple will stay with you forever!

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03 | Hôtel de Glace: Québec, Canada

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One of the very few ice hotels in all of North America, Hôtel de Glace was, in fact, the first to be built on the continent, as of 2001. The hotel is perhaps one, if not the most elegant, of all ice hotels, particularly with its majestic ice chandelier and fine, decorative detailing.
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It is quite remarkable, taking 60 workers each year to complete, with a total of 85 beds available for guests to stay in. All guests planning on staying for the night are invited to the Celsius Pavilion for the information session, to ensure that all will have a comfortable and pleasant stay. The hotel offers 36 beautiful rooms and themed suites, some complete with a chic fireplace and their own private spa.

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As for entertainment, Hôtel de Glace certainly offers a wide range: N’Ice Club, Ice Cafe, nightclub, movie theater, live musical performances, an ice skating rink, and more. Additionally, from January 28th until closing, they have the longest covered slide ever built, and made completely of ice and snow, for children to enjoy.

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The hotel has also been a prime spot for many weddings since its opening, with a beautiful chapel and romantic carriage rides just a request away.

 

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Sarah Klassen
Contributor, Vancouver

Even as a girl, Sarah spent hours curled up in her home library, exploring enchanting tales, lands to be discovered and explored, intriguing stories, and timeless beauty. What resulted is a lifelong passion for love and authenticity, delightful simplicity and beautiful moments. Educated in design, marketing and English, Sarah’s keen eye and aesthetic allow her to immerse beauty and heartfelt passion into both her personal and professional projects.
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