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October 09, 2018

Ice ice baby

Cool off at some of the world’s greatest ice hotels

BRYANT CHAN

You will not find the softest beds or the most comfortable climate in ice hotels, which are typically made of snow and ice and are mostly open for only a few months each year.

An ice hotel is exactly what it sounds like — temperatures indoors usually hover around -5 deg C to keep the internal structures from melting — but the experience of living in one of these low-temperature lodgings is simply unforgettable.

Here are a few ice hotels to check out: 

Icehotel — Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Made of snow and ice from the Torne River, the first ice hotel in the world, literally named Icehotel, was opened in 1989. Every year, 5,000 tonnes of ice are harvested from the river, which flows right past the town, and are used to create the hotel.

Now facing competition from other similar lodgings around the world, the Icehotel still sees around 50,000 guests yearly. Its numbers have spiked since November 2016, when owner Yngve Bergqvist decided to keep it open throughout the year, rather than letting it melt with the arrival of spring, as most ice hotels do. It remains the only ice hotel in the world to remain open all year round, thanks to a massive solar-powered refrigeration plant.

Open: Year round
Rates (per night): About 2,400 SEK (S$370) per person, depending on season
Info: www.icehotel.com

Hôtel de Glace — Saint-Gabrielde-Valcartier, Canada

With its long, cold winters, Canada is an optimal location for an ice hotel. The swooping curves and spiralling curlicues of the Hôtel de Glace (simply “Ice Hotel” in English) fit right in with the French-style buildings that are so common to urban Quebec.

Aside from its regular rooms, the Hôtel de Glace boasts 44 themed suites, each with its own unique theme and décor.

Enjoy the interplay of fire and ice with the fireplaces in their Premium theme suites, or go with their Premium Deluxe Arctic Spas suite, which has its own private spa.

You can even go behind the scenes and visit the Ice Workshop, where everything in the hotel is crafted, or make your own ice glass for use at the Ice Bar.

Open: Dec 23 to March 25 (subject to change) 
Rates (per night): C$199 per person (S$210) 
Info: www.hoteldeglace-canada.com

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu — Shimukappu, Japan

Who says you have to leave Asia to find an ice hotel?

The temperatures in Hokkaido, Japan, can fall drastically in winter — a far cry from Singapore’s equatorial heat. Fortunately, this also makes it an ideal place to construct an ice hotel.

Aside from attracting skiers and snowboarders from all over the world to enjoy the fine powder snow on its slopes, Hoshino Resorts Tomamu also plays host to one of just two ice hotels in Japan.

You’ll have to book pretty far in advance, though — while as many guests can visit as they like during daytime visiting hours, this ice hotel only allows one group of guests to stay overnight per night.

Open: Jan 13 to Feb 28 (subject to change) 
Rates (per night): 20,000 yen per person (S$245) 
Info: www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/en/ 

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort — Saariselkä, Finland

If you want a bit more snow and a little less ice, head over to Finland for a taste of the traditional.

Kakslauttanen’s traditional snow igloos provide protection from the harsh winter, staying at a consistent -6 to -3 deg C. This may sound chilly, but it’s downright balmy compared to the exterior, which can drop to -40 deg C on a particularly harsh day.

Guests at this arctic resort can also stay in its iconic glass-roofed igloos, which you might recognise the moment you see them.

They are plastered across travel websites and brochures everywhere, often with the ethereal light of the aurora borealis scintillating above them.

Open: Feb to April (subject to weather conditions) 
Rates (per night): €358 per person (S$570) 
Info: www.kakslauttanen.fi

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