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Sleeping on ice - Krystyna Chauncey, Finland
Thursday February 14, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

Here at PlanetSKI we have sampled all sorts of accommodation - from luxurious 5* hotels to basic mountain huts high up in the alpine glaciers. But we have never stayed in a hotel made of ice. Until now.

Another evening, another experience here in Finland.

It was hard to imagine anything topping the ice-floating, that I reported on in my previous blog. 

But there is definitely an ice theme afloat here in the Arctic Circle in Lapland.

We were heading for the Lainio Snow Village by snowmobile. 

What a fun way to transfer location.

We snowmobiled (not sure if that's a verb - but it is now) 20km through the darkness hoping to see the Northern Lights, but yet again thick cloud obscured the sky.

No Northern Lights tonight.

Instead we had other lights in store for us.

We were at the Lainio Snow Village.

A truly stunning piece of engineering.

It is built entirely of snow and ice with pretty colourful LED lights cleverly placed within the ice sculptures and ice furniture to create an eerie cold magical effect.

It felt as though we were on the film set of the Snow Queen.

It's a huge construction some internal domed ceilings up to 12 metre high.

It is designed with an ice bar, an ice restaurant with a long icy banqueting table, a chapel for weddings, plus 18 bedrooms.

Moreover this icehotel comes complete with slide and crazy golf. 

But, oh boy, its icy cold. 

During dinner and our overnight stay the indoor temperature remained at a steady -5°C. 

We had a tour round the truly spectacular sculpture.

I loved every detail of the wildlife and forest carved in freezes on the walls, the humorous detail of animals, trees, the carved Christmas trees at the entrance, the ice tables, chairs and sofas all subtly lit with LED lights to stunning effect. 

Rami Kurtakko (Director of Construction & Founder of Snow Village) told us that staying in the Ice Hotel was definitely a-one-night only experience and those wishing to stay a second night would be steered towards their warmer cosier cabins.

Honestly after staying one night I had to agree.  It's more for the experience rather than comfort.

He told us every year it takes 4 weeks to construct the Snow Village including all internal wall decorations and ice furnishings.

It remains open for 4 months after which time it slowly melts away in the spring.

Thousands of lorry loads of snow are used to reconstruct it. Its now in its 12 th year. 

Each year it is redesigned with an entirely new layout and design theme. Not many hotels can indulge in an annual redesign.

It uses:

* 40,000cu metres of artificial snow

* 200,000 kilos of ice

* Undisclosed miles of electric cables

* Thousands of colourful LED lights

* An astounding number of working hours to complete the entire project in 4 weeks

So, back to our night.

We banqueted in style in the ice dining room on a long oak-carved banqueting ice-table, sitting on non-sliding rubber mats on ice benches.

And at the head of the table there was a crystal ice-throne.

Well sadly our 'style' was thermal oversuits, hats and gloves.  But we relished every mouthful of tender reindeer steak washed down with warm red wine.

Funny though the waitress didn't leave the bottle on the table, I suppose it might have frozen.  

And when we needed a top up, a full set of fresh warm glasses were brought in with the wine already poured.

Dinner was fab, but we didn't linger for coffee.

IceIce banquet (photo courtesy Laura Kitching)













We were shown our ice bedrooms, provided with pillows, special arctic sleeping bags with warm liners.

We were shown the warm room which is a solid traditional wooden construction attached to the Ice Hotel via a long ice corridor.

We could make ourselves tea and coffee, use the bathroom and sauna and loos and if we were too cold we could probably camp there overnight. 

Who would know anyway as the hotel receptionist told us the main outer door would be locked overnight?

Apart from a few other guests no-one else was around.

And then the fun started. 


We did hit the sack eventually. 

Or rather the slab of ice.

There was a logical way of keeping warm. 

It was suggested we strip to our thermals.

Place our outer suits on a traditional mattress embedded in an ice bedframe, then sleep in our bags lying on top of our clothes keeping them warm in case we needed to get up in the night.

What a palaver.

There was no way I was getting up in the night.

My instincts told me to wear more layers in bed but I obeyed orders and stripped down.

I slipped into the warm bag liner and snuggled deep into my sleeping bag zipping it right up over my head and eyes only exposing my nose and mouth.

It was -5°C.

My nose was icy cold.

I was cold.

I wished I was wearing more layers.

Surprisingly though I did sleep.

Ice bedIce bed

















Rami was right it was a fantastic experience not to be missed and probably not to be repeated.

At least not too regularly.

In the morning we were woken with cups of hot cloudberry juice.

What a relief to hold something hot.

This is how the Snow Village looked in 2011/2012

This year, Chinese ice sculptors involved in creating the colossal statues and buildings for their annual Harbin Ice Festival were invited to Finland to sculpt and decorate the Snow Village.

And the results are stunning, though in some of the bedrooms the images were possibly a little difficult to sleep with.

IceViking in the bedroom

















IceIce works (photo courtesy Laura Kitching)













The venue is also popular for weddings. 

Some 80 couples tie the knot in the little ice-chapel every year and some from the UK too.

It's a bit chilly standing fully clothed in thermal suits so I can imagine a low-cut light-weight dress might give the bride frostnip.

Moreover leather or high heeled shoes to be avoided at all cost on the very icy floor. 

Whilst there is a fantastic novelty wow factor it would be just too cold to stand around for the photos - but there'd be no problem keeping the champagne on ice.

iceThe ice Chapel













For Krystyna's first blog as the plane attempted to land see here and for the second one with the afore-mentioned ice floating then take a look here.

Fact Box:

Lainio SnowHotel (bookable via Inghams representative). Inghams offers an overnight stay from either Ylläs or Levi.

Overnight stay in Lainio SnowHotel: staying in a double room without transfers and dinner £135 from Ylläs or £149 from Levi.

Overnight stay in Lainio SnowHotel staying in a double room with return snowmobile transfer and dinner £219 from Ylläs or £255 from Levi.

Snowmobile Safaris (bookable via Inghams representative). 2 hour excursion Single (1 adult) £75 - Double (2 sharing) £49 Adult £15 child.

Book online at or contact 01483 791 114

For a similar icy Snow Village in Canada see the video below...

(Selected photos courtesy Laura Kitching)

It's always snowing somewhere! Smile

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

For the spirit of the mountains


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