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Ice is Nice

by Becca Hensley

As much a work of art as a hotel, Sweden’s astonishing Icehotel, located 125 miles above the Arctic Circle, never looks the same from one winter to the next. That’s because the world’s first and largest igloo- style lodge gets built anew each winter, under the direction of insightful artists, architects and designers, who mine 5,000 tons of ice from the adjacent Torne River for the project. Running on solar power, the ornate, snow-walled haven features decorative details, a graceful church, luxury suites—complete with ice block beds and reindeer pelt coverings—plus an ice bar for imbibing vodka in chunky ice mugs. Expect to sleep snuggly and soundly in your hotel-allocated thermal sleepwear and requisite subzero sleeping bag until a staff member awakens you with a mug of hot lingonberry juice in the morning.

The remote 17th century village of Jukkasjärvi (“meeting place by the water”) is surrounded by forests. It has a population of 1,000 dogs

and 800 people in addition to the hotel, which gives tourists a taste of Norrland, Sweden’s least inhabited region. As the epitome of a winter wonderland, the snow-draped surroundings serve as a spa for the soul when guests go husky sledding, night hike to experience the Northern Lights, ice sculpt, take moose safaris or meet the indigenous Sami people, who still, to this day, tend herds of reindeer.

Enjoy the Icehotel’s Swedish Sauna Experience, a 10-step, three- hour ritual that includes rolls in the snow, wood-fired hot tubs, tar-soap washings, a lingonberry scrub, birch leaf self-flagellation (for circulation) and a cold plunge through an ice hole in the frosty river—all overseen by a certified sauna master. (Note: a permanent, year-round building on-site also welcomes summer travelers and provides less adventurous winter sleeps.) icehotel.com

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