The Icehotel and Three Great Alternatives
If you watched Alexander Armstrong’s Land of the Midnight Sun on TV you’ll have been struck by the sheer beauty of the ICEHOTEL® in Sweden’s Jukkasjärvi. Armstrong was rightly smitten with the IceHotel’s breathtaking interior areas and marvelled at the skilled craftsmanship of the ice and snow artisans who gather every October to create this annual monument to ice and snow architecture.
However in the book that accompanies the series he does draw on the more commercial infrastructure required in such a popular place and describes the ICEHOTEL® as “A stupendous Cathedral of ‘Brrrr’.”
We would of course encourage anybody to visit the ICEHOTEL® because it is a magnificent annual achievement – but there are similar establishments in Northern Scandinavia which are less visited, and equally exquisite in their own rights.
Here’s our top three alternatives to the ICEHOTEL®
Kirkenes Snow Hotel
In north-west Norway close to the Russian border, Kirkenes is renowned as a great place from which to view the Northern Lights and its wilderness hinterland offers any number of winter activities such as dog sledding, snowmobiling and even fishing for utterly delicious king crab.
Best of all perhaps is the Kirkenes Snowhotel which opened its doors to visitors in 2006. With just 20 bedrooms, the overnight accommodation is on a far smaller scale than the ICEHOTEL® but with all the same attractions. Every year 15 tonnes of ice are taken from a neighbouring lake to create the hotel, the ice bar, a wedding chapel and the hugely impressive sculptures which have become more intricate and sophisticated with each passing year. Each bedroom has a different theme linked to the Arctic and Arctic nature and are lovingly created by artisans from the specialist ice carving city of Harbin in China.
Kirkenes – Norway’s Northern Lights Frontier – from £1645pp (based on 2 sharing) which includes: return flights from London Heathrow to Kirkenes (via Oslo), transfers, four-nights’ accommodation at the Thon or Scandic Hotel. You can upgrade to spend one night at the Snowhotel (supplements from £85), four breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, activities (hunting for the Northern Lights by snowmobile-pulled sled, guided snowmobile trip, husky safari, Snowhotel visit with dinner, Northern Lights king crab snowmobile trip including dinner), cold weather clothing and fully qualified wilderness guides and instructors during activities
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
Alta is almost as far north as you can go in Norway before you’re plunged into the icy, grey waters of the Barents Sea. Set against a backdrop of snowy mountains, Alta is a vibrant and modern town and, boasting some of the least cloudy skies in Northern Scandinavia, has earned it the title “The Town of the Northern Lights”.
Not far outside Alta in a stunningly beautiful winter valley is Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. There are just 30 lovingly created and intricately carved snow and ice rooms here and while the thought of spending the night in sub-zero temperatures may not appeal, an Arctic grade sleeping bag will keep all but your nose nice and snug.
Dinner in the excellent (warm) restaurant can be followed by a soak in an outdoor hot tub and with far less light pollution here than in Alta itself, there is a fair chance you’ll be gazing at the Northern Lights while you lie back and relax.
Aurora Hunting Trips in Alta and Sorrisniva: Alta – Town of the Northern Lights 3-nights from £1475 pp or Alta – Aurora Hunting Adventure 4-nights from £1895 pp Aurora hunting trips (Overnight at Sorrisniva (supplement from £112pp)
Three-night price includes: flights & transfers, accommodation, some meals, activities (Northern Lights stake out, snowshoeing, ice fishing, Aurora snowmobile, entry to Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel and three course meal in award winning restaurant, husky safari, evening cruise of Alta fjord), cold weather clothing for most activities and flights (Heathrow).
Four-night price includes: flights and transfers, accommodation, some meals, activities (Northern Lights hunt, Sámi culture, reindeer sleigh ride, Aurora snowmobile, entry to Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel and 3 course meal in award winning restaurant, snowshoeing, ice fishing, evening husky safari, ‘Fatbike’ day trip or tour of Alta, Aurora cruise on Alta Fjord, cold weather clothing for most activities and flights (Heathrow).
Torrassieppi Winter Village
Alexander Armstrong’s journey didn’t include Finland but if it had he might well have discovered exactly the kind of ice and snow hotel he was looking for. Torassieppi is hidden away in the North West corner of Finnish Lapland and was originally a reindeer farm dating back to the 1800’s. Indeed, many of the farm buildings are still intact and the site feels very much like a step back in time. With only 8 cosy hotel rooms and 8 log cabins, this is hardly tourism on a large scale.
Torassieppi’s winter village opened in 2014 with just 10 bedrooms created from snow and ice. However, don’t let the small size fool you because the site also boasts a restaurant, a bar and a chapel all of which are constructed from snow and ice. Torassieppi also has more than its fair share of intricately fashioned ice sculptures and carvings to admire as well as being surrounded by the winter wonderland that is Fell Lapland.
New and exclusive to Torassieppi for winter 2015/16 are Aurora Domes, Arctic tents which take “glamping” to an all new level.
Torassieppi – Lakeside Auroras from £1,815 pp includes transfers, seven nights’ full-board accommodation in twin/double hotel rooms (two sharing), cabin upgrades (from £98pp), overnight in the Winter Village (from £70pp), overnight in an Aurora Dome (from £115pp), activities (local handicrafts, Northern Lights sleigh ride, Aurora workshop, lunch in ice restaurant, Aurora snowshoe, ice fishing experience, Aurora campfire, Pallas snowshoe hike, reindeer farm visit and sleigh ride, Jeris spa and smoke sauna, Northern Lights minibus hunt, 17km husky safari), cold weather clothing for the duration of the stay, expert local guide and representative, Aurora alert until approximately 1am and international flights.
The Aurora Zone runs nearly 80 different itineraries to see the lights to the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. Prices start at less than £700 pp (flight inclusive) up to a multi-country Grand Aurora Tour, taking in Sweden, Norway and Finland and including a stay at the ICEHOTEL®, dog sledding and snowmobiling adventures and some unforgettable locations in which to search for the lights.
A full list of Aurora-hunting itineraries is available at www.theaurorazone.com. To discuss Aurora-hunting tours with an expert, please call The Aur
– See more at: http://www.travpr.com/pr-35257-3-great-alternatives-to-the-ice-hotel.html#sthash.K2Q5Nkz2.dpuf