Anthony travels across the world to see some of the most spectacular ice hotels. Each one melts during the spring and is rebuilt every year with new designs. First Anthony heads 123 miles north of the Arctic Circle to Jukkasjarvi, Sweden. Workers are beginning the construction of an ice hotel by gathering ice. The hotel was the first one built over 20 years ago, and is rated number one in the world. It now has 50 rooms and is considered the largest igloo on the planet. The current hotel is number 26, and owner Arne and his team start by cutting out ice blocks weighing two tons each. They shave off the frozen snow atop the ice and use it later as insulation and mortar. The workers sculpt the bottom part to make the hotel.
In 2015, the hotel had 50,000 visitors who paid up to $1,000 a night. While Anthony waits for Arne to finish his work, he goes to check out the four most spectacular ice hotels in the Laplands, which stretch across northern Scandinavia. First Anthony goes to Snow Village in Finland. The hotel was started 16 years ago, expanding from six rooms to thirty. Three hundred and fifty tons of ice are used to build the hotel, and first people pass through a snow maze illuminated thousands of LED lights. There is a unique carved ice sculpture in each room. Each bed is equipped with an insulated mattress and fleece-lined sleeping bag.
Snow Village has an ice cinema which includes footage showing how they built the hotel. The hotel has an ice slide and Anthony goes down it several times. It also has a domed restaurant that seats 120 people and is made with a giant balloon. Snow is sprayed on it and then the balloon is removed, leaving a dome with 6' walls. The chef presents reindeer, smoked salmon, and marinated mushrooms. Anthony is impressed by the food, and explains that it's all locally grown. Desert is lingonberries and cloudberry liquor served in an ice shot glass.
Next, Anthony heads to Norway to check out the northernmost ice hotel on Earth, the Kirkenes Hotel. The best way to get there is by husky because of its remote location. The 27-room hotel, with restaurant and bar, is hidden beneath a layer of snow. The lobby is decorated with ice sculptures, currently based on famous Vikings. The ice bar is in the shape of a Viking longship, and the bartender serves him Rudolph's Revenge. The owner, Kares, then shows Anthony around the guest rooms. Some display scenes from nature, while others have figures like Marilyn Monroe. Kares says that they make her every year, and the older men often choose the room. The owner then shows Anthony the communal heated area with lockers, sleeping supplies, showers, and restrooms. Kares shows how the guests stay warm, and explains that its 24 degrees inside at all times. The snow insulates the hotel from the outside temperature and muffles sounds.
Anthony takes his sleeping gear to a guest room and makes himself comfortable. Seven hours later, Anthony wakes up in the morning and says that it was one of the most restful nights that he's ever had. He then checks out a nearby frozen fjord where the hotel crab-fishes for fresh red king crab to serve. They cut off the legs to boil and eat.
Next, Anthony goes south to stop at the Yllas Ski Resort in Finland. He takes a sauna ski cab up to the resort. He then goes to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, which has domed rooms built into the ice. The glass is designed with thermal pains that heat the inside and prevent frost, giving an unobstructed 180 degree view of the surroundings. The owner Jussi arrives and shows Anthony how to elevate the bed to watch the Northern Lights. There are 65 glass igloos and more being built year, and 85 saunas and log cabins made from Laplands plywood. The wood is 500 years old and hardens into the perfect sauna building material.
Jussi explains that saunas are a holy places for the Finns. He tells Anthony that he has a surprise for him after the sauna. Anthony undresses and enters the sauna. Afterward, Jussi takes him to the nearby lake and there's a hatch leading to an ice pool. Finns do the same thing every morning to improve blood circulation. Anthony gets in for 30 seconds and quickly runs back to the sauna where he admits that it was amazing. That night, Anthony checks out the resort's main attraction: the Northern Lights.
The next day, Anthony heads back to Jukkasjarvi but first checks out the Sami Reindeer Park. The Sami are locals who herd reindeer, and they show Anthony how it's done. They go out and lasso reindeer, and Anthon finally catches one. They then go out on a sled pulled by reindeer.
When Anthony returns to Jukkasjarvi, he checks out the newly built 50-room 5,500 square foot hotel. The reindeer skin-clad doors open to an iceberg hall with ice chandeliers. There are 19 art suites, and each one has a unique design and name. One of them features a peacock with LEDs for feather eyes. Another one features cairns, and another one features a life-size elephant sculpture. Anthony finds a housekeeping cart that features brushes to keep the snow and ice under control. The housekeeper is in the "Counting Sheep" Suite, which has 19 sheep sculptures. She demonstrates how she cleans up the snow and rakes the floor, and then checks the roofs for any water.
Next, Anthony checks out the two deluxe ice suites. The first one is named "The Great Escape" and the design resembles a treehouse. A bottle of champagne is mounted in the wall, and the champagne glasses are made out of ice. Swings hang from the ceiling, The second suite, "Rhythm of the Arctic," has a design that feels like it's on another world.
Anthony then checks out the ice bar with Arne. Arne explains that the designer created it as a tribute to all the previous ice bars. Anthony congratulates Arne on his ingenuity and they share a toast in the owner's honor.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 27, 2016