S P A R K L I N G C O L D
Diamonds are often referred to as "ice"—and though we tend to favor diamonds over the other molecular formations that share the title, actual ice is quite mystical. As with diamonds, which often have "inclusions," or alleged flaws, most ice contains impurities—small bubbles, clouds of opacity, and particles of other earthly substances. Beyond the earth exists interstellar ice—and here on earth, ice can be made anywhere, at anytime, by just exposing water to a temperature of thirty-two degrees fahrenheit for a while. As one would assume, the creation of a diamond is a bit more of a complicated process.
Rather than feeling sorrowful as you watch the last days of summer melt away, look forward the ethereal beauty of the colder-weather months. And the extremity of them.
If you'd take interest in climbing staircases of ice to sleep on floating beds while wrapped in reindeer furs, drinking from glasses that melt, and exploring furniture, walls, and art installations that are hand-carved every six months, we recommend a (mental or actual) trip to Jukkasjärvi, Sweden's Icehotel—a hotel that, as its name indicates, is comprised entirely of ice.
The snow-and-ice formation is just 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, by the The Torne River (aka the source of the building materials). The river, which runs from the western mountains to the eastern coast, is 520 kilometers in length. It's the largest river in Sweden.
In early spring, months are devoted to maintaining the “ice field" and making sure that snow doesn't form to ensure that there's a lot of pristine ice with which to build the hotel. Artificial ice isn't used, so the place retains an air of specialness.
Inside the hotel you'll find art suites, an ice bar, a church, a main hall, a reception area, and roughly one hundred rooms for guests. All of the furniture is sculpted from blocks of ice, made to look like tables, beds, and chairs. No two of the rooms are the same—decorative carvings allow for each to be a strange, individualistic experiment.
We can only assume that the hotel grows a bit cold in the morning and evening and times in between, but the beds are robed with reindeer furs and polar-tested sleeping bags to ensure warmth and comfort—and though there's no plumbing in the Icehotel (how could there be?), there are hot tubs and saunas which guests can escape the cold in.
The hotel is known for it's gallery, for which artists from all over come to Jukkasjärvi to create and install works using snow, ice, and light.
The artists—of which there 40 each year—aren't required to've worked with ice as a material before.
Due to the nature of, you know, ice, their works exist for just a few months, so they're incredibly ethereal.
After viewing the carvings and artworks, when it's time to settle down for a nice freezing cold cocktail, Icehotel transforms into a scene: vodka, served "in the rocks" rather than on the rocks, flows and is served in glasses made of ice from Torne.
How did the Icehotel come to be? In 1989, there took place an ice and snow sculpture art course in Jukkasjärvi—and in celebration of eccentricity, the artists enrolled in the course stayed in a house made of snow, given just sleeping bags, words of advice, and a sauna. The Icehotel took off from there.
Icehotel has, unsurprisingly, gathered a lot of attention. The hotel worked with Absolut in the '90s, and served as the location for an ad shoot for vodka label: images of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, clad in Gianni Versace, and captured by Herb Ritts. Not bad for something that only exists for one year at a time!
Icebar by Icehotel is a now franchise concept for ice bar: there are Ice Bars in Tokyo, Oslo, London, and Stockholm.
There is a scope of activities offered to freezing cold guests staying at the hotel: weddings (causal!), snowmobile-lead safaris, guided tours of the famous Northern Lights tours, ice sculpting, fishing through the ice, husky sleighing, and moose watching—but because each room is hand-carved, we'd assume that just walking around the grounds is enough to keep visitors overstimulated.
What, besides your own reindeer furs, should you pack for such a trip? We'd suggest white diamonds to drip onto your ears, neck, and fingers—a linked-ring clad hand holding an ice glass is almost too fantastical.
Here, a few suggested pieces to pack for your trip to Icehotel (or to wear while dreaming of your trip)