The Best Ice Hotels In The World To Book For Your Coolest Vacation Yet

One great thing about a stay at an ice hotel is the obvious boost for your street credibility — after all, when else can you say that you are staying at the coolest place on the planet, and have the full power of science to back you up? Kept at sub-zero temperatures (Celsius that is, or less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit), these places are usually simple rooms made up of giant blocks of ice, or carefully sculpted and packed snow that's part of a larger complex with places to eat, bars, and, in some cases, even a chapel made of the cold stuff. 

Staying in an ice hotel is usually a novel, one-night affair, but it doesn't have to be, and some of the properties listed below have enough activities and diversions to keep guests entertained for multiple sunrises and sunsets, and all of the moments in between. While parts of the Southern Hemisphere certainly seem cold enough to build an ice hotel, all of the chilled accommodations on our list are found in the Northern Hemisphere, and all except two are located in Northern Europe. Of course, the vast majority are seasonal, rising and disappearing with the appearance of the winter season, ephemeral places to stay that travelers need to catch while they can. Here we present the coolest ones to check out, listed alphabetically by country, on your next winter escape.

Iglu-Dorf, Austria

West of Innsbruck, at a destination that distinguishes itself as the highest ski resort in the country, this complex of ice buildings is a winter wonderland. The location in the Tyrolean mountains places guests about 2,000 meters (or more than 6,500 feet) above sea level. In addition to rooms, the resort has a bar where you can order some warming drinks, a restaurant where regional delights include fondue and even a sauna that supplies a welcome break from the chilly conditions. 

The igloos, made from snow and ice, like the rest of the property, are artistic wonders, designed for two or four people, and come with incredible sculptures that turn the room into a live canvas for ice art (the two-person igloo has snow sculptures of delicate flowers on the wall). Activities are also provided, such as rides on sleds, snowshoeing excursions, and the chance to take a night hike under a star-filled winter sky.

Schneedorf, Austria

A little west of Iglu-Dorf, in the Ötztal Valley, a popular summer destination where there is fantastic hiking, and a broad variety of cycling trails, is where to come across this realm of ice and snow. A hidden retreat high up in the mountains, from outside it looks like a series of caves, or Hobbit holes, carved from snow. Constructed every year during the winter thanks to the wizardry of dedicated sculptors, this hotel is comprised of a number of igloos anchored by a large one that can hold more than 40 people, and that serves as the restaurant, where six tables offer diners options where to sit, with a meal that is likely to include the unmistakably alpine treat of cheese fondue. 

Guests can also order a tipple at the snow bar. A stay here plays out in one of two ways — as a classic overnight or as a candlelight night. Both share similar features, with a warming welcome drink, a fondue dinner, thick, insulated sleeping bags to keep you toasty at night, breakfast in the morning, and activities like a night hike in the mountains by flashlight. The candlelight option, however, is aimed at couples and adds Champagne and canapés to the mix.

Hôtel de Glace, Canada

The only ice hotel in North America sits a short distance northwest of Quebec City, in the small village of Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier. Opened for the winter season each year, it's a fantasy land of striking rooms and hauntingly beautiful sculptures made of clear ice, and it is painstakingly recreated each year as a temple of cool hospitality. The hotel is quite a production, with 30 accommodations in total, some with just a single bed, others with three separate beds. Guests snuggle into dense sleeping bags at night, in rooms that have tastefully lit ice sculptures throughout. Accommodations don't skimp on creature comforts either, with some even boasting a fireplace, private hot tub, and one has a sauna. 

A night here comes with a cocktail served in a glass made of ice, naturally, a room booked at the next door Hôtel Valcartier (it's a sister property) where guests can leave their luggage and take a shower, entry to a dedicated, open-air Nordic area where there are outdoor hot tubs and a sauna, as well as some fabulous star-gazing, and of course the chance to sleep in a room like no other on the continent.

Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos, Finland

Open from mid-December to late March, this lakeside hotel is set above the Arctic Circle, about 15 miles from the Finnish town of Rovaniemi. First opened in 2008, it has 30 hotel rooms that are a mix of snow accommodations and igloos made of glass through which travelers can see the Northern Lights. There's a total capacity of about 70 visitors. Ice artwork is a constant throughout the spaces, especially in rooms where the sculptures and sculpted walls are enlivened by smart lighting. Accommodations vary, allowing for different groups of guests — some rooms are for two people, others can hold families, with bed frames made of solid hunks of ice and topped with mattresses. 

The property also has a chapel, restaurant, and bar made of ice (the glasses used for drinks are made of cold stuff too). Meals at the restaurant are served on a table made of ice, and dishes might include roast elk, forest mushroom soup, or smoked tofu. To heat up, be sure to visit the Snow Sauna, which really is built from ice and snow.

Kakslauttanenen Arctic Resort, Finland

Visit this winter paradise and you can spend the night in glass igloos, small, lattice-frame structures with a ceiling of windows (great for stargazing or marveling at the Northern Lights), that come with their own private toilet (some even have a shower). But for a real seasonal experience, nothing beats the Snow Igloos. Tucked inside built-up banks of snow, with lit doorways that appear like beacons in the night, these rooms have ice walls that insulate the interiors from frigid temperatures outside — they stay just below freezing all the time, even if it's substantially colder outside. 

The thick walls also possess impressive sound-dampening attributes, shielding the insides from any exterior noise, not that this part of northern Finland, 250 miles above the Arctic Circle and close to Urho Kekkonen National Park, is loud anyway. This is a setting of pure, pristine wilderness, a truly great escape from the daily grind.

Lapland Hotels SnowVillage, Finland

The amazing ice sculptures, finely lit, are one of the features of the snow hotel here. Built from scratch each year in November, the property is never the same two years running, making each visit a journey into the unknown. The hotel has 12 rooms made of snow and a wood-heavy cottage that is also part of the set-up. As in other ice hotels, sleeping is done inside a sleeping bag, a great spot from which to admire the sculptures around the room. 

The cottage room is shaped like a teepee and is located a short distance from the Snow Village, featuring a whirlpool bath that will energize guests on cold nights. Meals celebrate the setting, with sautéed reindeer and Arctic char both on the menu, while drinks are served in the Ice Bar. Active types will enjoy the options for outdoor adventure — a snowshoe trek ending with coffee around a fire, a ride along snow-packed terrain with reindeer, and adventures into the icy wilderness atop a snowmobile.

Ice Village Tomamu, Japan

The only ice hotel in Asia resides in this winter wonderland on the island of Hokkaido that opens for three months during winter. Part of the large, influential Japanese hotel brand Hoshino Resorts, which has a number of properties on this ski mountain, the ice village springs to life each year from mid-December to mid-March, a magical land of ice and snow that looks like a place lifted from the pages of a fantasy tale. Its name is apt, with a fruit shop (think frozen fruit delights), a cafe (drinks are poured into ice glasses), an ice bar, an ice chapel, and even a general store made of ice selling artisanal local products. 

Within three months of the Ice Village's annual lifespan, an ice hotel opens for about six weeks, with chairs, tables, and buildings made entirely from ice. Guests of the ice hotel can enjoy a quiet night in, have a soak in the arctic bath (made from ice, and located outdoors of course), and even bring their dog along to enjoy the stay with them.

Hunderfossen Snow Hotel, Norway

Situated on a stretch of the Gudbrandsdalslågen River north of Oslo, and open for about eight weeks during the winter, this ice hotel can hold up to 24 guests. It's an offshoot of the Hunderfossen Hotel & Resort, close to a number of family-friendly attractions and near the ski town of Lillehammer, home to the 1994 Winter Olympics. At the ice hotel, rooms have ice sculptures lit from within and from below, giving them an ethereal, haunting beauty. 

As is the norm in ice hotels, the interiors are filled with furnishings made of ice, and in addition to the works of art that are an obvious focal point of each room, the beds are made of blocks of ice and topped with sheepskin rugs, prized for their warmth and their cushioning capabilities. The property also has an ice cathedral where groups in search of something a little different can stay overnight, and all guests have access to the facilities at Hunderfossen Hotel & Resort.

Snowhotel Kirkenes, Norway

While ice hotels generally come and go with the machinations of the weather, this property has something a little special going for it — it is open year-round. Claiming to be the first ice hotel, this resort is open 365 days of the year, located in the northern reaches of the country, not far from the Russian town of Murmansk. Visits here vary by season, with half-board (meaning breakfast and dinner) on offer all year round, or the option of bed and breakfast only during the summer months. 

The hotel has 13 rooms in total, with more than half set aside as family accommodations with four beds. But that's not the only reason that it's a great option for families (children under seven years old are not permitted) — there are also chances to encounter reindeer and husky dogs, and you could visit a puppy farm or do activities like snow yoga, hikes on the icy terrain, and rides on sleds.

Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Norway

While technically this destination is an ice hotel, at times visitors might feel as though they have entered into a museum, so stunning are the ice sculptures and designs here at the property. Notable as the northernmost igloo hotel on the planet (it's marginally further north than Snowhotel Kirkenes), this place boasts some impressive numbers. About 250 tons of ice are needed to build the structure each year, supplemented by almost 250,000 cubic feet of snow to finish off the project. The ice is sourced from Sierravann, a small lake to the southeast, while snow utilizes water from the Alta River, right by the property. 

Open from late December to early April, the hotel features columned passageways, incredibly intricate sculptures, and ice murals, as well as lighting that gives all the ice-work a theatrical, dramatic sense of being — you'll be snapping plenty of photos during a stay. In addition to overnights in the rooms, which range from simple igloo structures to more artfully compiled suites, guests can experience outdoor adventures like snowmobiling, mushing with huskies, and gazing in awe at the Northern Lights. Couples can even tie the knot at the Ice Chapel.

Tromsø Ice Domes, Norway

In the part of northern Norway that resembles pieces of a puzzle that have slowly drifted apart, a land of deep fjords, heavily indented coastlines, valleys blessed with dense woods, and snow-covered peaks, this property is open from late December to early April. The set-up here separates the sleeping quarters — kept cold, obviously — from a heated building that houses the restrooms, bar, lounge, and other typical hotel facilities. 

The ice domes bring the outdoors in, with finely detailed snow sculptures of regional themes, like indigenous animals, and the culture of the Sami people who call this part of the world their home. There are also stunning recreations of trees and forests that seem almost life-like in their intricacy and lines. Beyond, activities keep guests moving, with a vast range of options available to travelers — sledding with reindeer in the day or night, snowmobile tours under the glow of the Northern Lights, dog sledding or snowshoe hikes, and the chance to take in the brilliant night sky around a roaring fire.

Hotel of Ice, Romania

The highest peaks in this southeastern European country, the Fagaras Mountains are alpine monsters, jagged outlines straddling deep valleys, a place of remote wildness where roads are sometimes closed during the winter because of the harsh conditions. It's in this mountain range that visitors will find this seasonal property whose restaurant and church are built from blocks of frozen lake ice. Access to the hotel is only via cable car, which rises to the property set 2,000 meters (about 6,600 feet) above sea level. 

The hotel can thank the frozen layers of Balea Lake for its raw materials, with regional artisans working tirelessly to create a small settlement of igloos in addition to the church and restaurant. That eatery prides itself on its adherence to local, Transylvanian culinary traditions and dishes, and is lit in such a way that its ceiling seems to shimmer with hundreds of stars. A stay here can be a study in serenity, or a sojourn into the snow, with tubing, snowmobiling, and hikes to nearby ice caves just some of the distractions on offer.

Eskimska Vas, Slovenia

Eskimos are people found across the northern parts of countries like Canada, Greenland, and Russia, but they are also the inspiration behind this igloo hotel operation in this mountainous country south of Austria — the name of the place is Slovenian for "Eskimo Village." Part of a larger igloo complex that comprises a warren of tunnels, the rooms are spread across four igloos, two that can hold up to eight people each and are smart choices for families or larger groups, and two that are designed specifically for couples. 

Beds are slabs of snow and ice topped by something to keep them warm and then topped again by sheepskin rugs and a thermal sleeping bag. Meals taken at the Igloo restaurant reflect the country's cuisine, with Carniolian sausage served with horseradish (a local favorite). Guests can also toast the momentous occasion of a stay here with a drink at the Igloo Bar.

Icehotel, Sweden

Another retreat that claims to be the first-ever ice hotel, first opened in 1989, this property features striking ice art that is sure to stick in your mind long after you check out. Using ice pulled from the neighboring Torne River, the hotel is reborn and reimagined each year, located in the quiet town of Jukkasjäarvi in Sweden's north, not far from the Norwegian border. Skilled craftsmen work tirelessly on creating this engineering marvel, and at the end of the season, the structures are left to melt back into the ground. 

Rooms are either simple ice accommodations with little ornamentation, or the more convoluted suites, where commissioned ice pieces from global artists add supreme flair to the interiors, ensuring that each year the rooms are never the same. In addition to the annually appearing (and disappearing) hotel, Icehotel 365 is now open, offering a year-round stay in icy accommodations built in a huge ice hall replete with an ice restaurant and bar.

Iglu-Dorf, Switzerland

This chain of ice properties has a number of locations around Switzerland — and it's also the outfit behind Iglu-Dorf in Austria, the first ice hotel on this list. Like the Austrian property, the set-up is the same, with an ice bar serving chilled drinks, and a high-ceilinged igloo restaurant where ice murals depict the fragile lines and forms of flowers and plants. Guests can also take meals on a sun terrace, sampling mulled wine and cheese fondue with a view of the alpine splendor. Rooms are split among those designed for two people and for four, and feature sculptures and wall art that make them pleasant refuges for a night's stay. 

The locations in Switzerland are certainly in sought-after destinations, located in prized ski areas in different parts of the country — Davos Kloster in the country's east, Gstaad in the German-speaking canton of Bern and near Lake Leman, and the southern mountain favorite of Zermatt, close to the border with Italy — with one more on Zugspitze, a peak that straddles the Austrian-German border.