The Swedish Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland is exactly what it sounds like: a hotel made entirely of ice. As cool that sounds, it’s not the point of this trip. I just stumbled upon the ice hotel when I was looking for reindeer herding trips online. This trip is all about reindeer sledding (also called Vuoján) with the Sami people, the aboriginal people of northern Scandinavia.
Reindeer Sledding with the Sami People
The Sami people are an indigenous people spread across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. They have a long and close relationship with reindeer. It is known that that they have hunted them for more than a millennium. According some old Chinese writings, the Sami may have been riding them as early as 400 AD.
About 20,000 Sami live in Sweden today, and of them only about 900 are active reindeer herders. Like aboriginal communities around the globe, as modernization and industry push spread into increasingly remote areas, their traditional culture is being pushed out. In Sweden the main problem is that private interests want the Sami’s herding grounds for logging and mining (more information is available at the bottom of this post).
Now, like many indigenous peoples, the Sami are being forced to capitalize on their traditional way of life as a means of both making money, and preserving their culture. One of the most unique experiences the Sami offer is reindeer sledding.
If taking a reindeer sledding trip (which sounds awesome in it’s own right) will help out the Sami, then I’m all for it.
Lets put on our parkas and go lasso some reindeer.
Reindeer Herding Sami Photos
Destination: Swedish Ice Hotel
I ran across the Swedish ice hotel, or Icehotel as it is properly called, while researching the Sami people. It’s one of the most famous destinations for Lapland holidays. Icehotel is a hotel made completely from ice and snow. It advertises both heated and cold rooms, although I haven’t yet figured out how that is possible. It also has a bar named, not surprisingly, Icebar. They also offer skiing, dogsledding, horse tours, and wicked views of the northern lights.
A couple of the reindeer sledding trips I looked at take visitors to the ice hotel. I’m not big on staying in expensive novelty hotels—or any hotels at all for that matter—but this place is an ice palace. It must be done at least once.
Ice Hotel Photos
Icehotel photos coutesy of bjaglin on Flickr
A Few Swedish Ice Hotel Facts
- The Swedish ice hotel’s actual name is Icehotel
- Icehotel is located in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle.
- It’s made from 10,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow
- The hotel melts every summer and is rebuilt each winter
- It is built in phases. Construction begins in mid-November. The first phase is finished after about 3.5 weeks and the hotel opens. A new phase is completed each week until the hotel is completed around the end of December, after about six weeks total construction time.
- The hotel includes: 5 types of rooms, both warm and cold (uh, I mean freezing),
- The hotel has capacity for 100+ guests
- Rooms during the winter cost from $180 USD per person per night all the way up to $710 USD per person per night.
- The ‘hotel’ was first conceived in 1992 when there were no rooms available in town so some visitors slept in sleeping bags on the floor of the an art exhibition hall made of snow.
Reindeer sledding tours to the Swedish ice hotel