In some of the coldest parts of the world, designers and architects use ice and snow to build ice hotels, igloos, event pavilions and beyond. Few are designed to last to the end of winter, but all are marvelous while they stand. These eight incredible works of ice architecture make the most of the frozen months, turning frozen water into solid structures that awaken the imagination.
- Ice Hotels are a lesser-known example of novelty architecture common in cold, northern countries
- The concept of ice lodging spans thousands of years, reaching back to an early nomadic Inuit tradition
- From Sweden to Quebec, ice hotels are often seen as annual architectural opportunities, some considered to be temporary art galleries in their own right
Hôtel de Glace – Ice Hotel Quebec
As its name implies, the Hôtel de Glace in Quebec, Canada is currently the only annual ice hotel in North America. There have been ice hotels in Alaska and elsewhere, but none that continues as regularly as Hôtel de Glace. The hotel has snow walls that keep it insulated and all of its furniture is made of ice. Guests sleep in beds with a solid ice base. There are rooms with a functioning fireplace or a private spa. Of course, there are ice sculptures and other art pieces made of ice all over the hotel. Hôtel de Glace is limited to winter only, so booking is only available from January to March.
Hôtel de Glace – Ice Hotel Quebec | Gallery
Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival
Every year, the city of Harbin in China holds an International Ice and Snow Festival during the winter season. The festival lasts for about a month and each year the festival showcases stunning ice sculptures and frozen architecture. This year is the 31st year of the festival and the Ice and Snow World, which is one of the main attractions during the festival, featured massive ice carvings, sculptures, and towers – beautiful architectural pieces made out of blocks of ice. The Ice and Snow World includes ice mazes, city scapes, and even an entire castle made out of ice. At night, the frozen world came alive with bright neon lights.
Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival | Gallery
White Walled Ice hotel – The Snowcastle of Kemi Finland
Celebrating its 20th year this year, the SnowCastle of Kemi is located near the Gulf of Bothnia in Finland and features amazing ice architecture. The SnowCastle includes the SnowHotel, SnowRestaurant, and the SnowChapel. Like most ice hotels, the temperature inside the hotel and restaurant are maintained at a specific temperature regardless of the temperature outside. The SnowCastle is rebuilt every year in December and opened for guests in January through April. When the season ends, the structures are crushed and pushed out to the shore so that the ice can melt into the sea.
Ice hotel – Snowcastle of Kemi Finland | Gallery
Ice Architecture – Snowmaze Sweden by PINPIN
Designed by Swedish studio PINPIN, the Snow Maze is a playground that was built for an annual winter festival in Kiruna, Sweden. The entire playground is constructed out of ice and snow and consists of a large maze, two slides, a snow lantern, egg-shaped seats, and benches. PINPIN worked with ICEHOTEL, LKAB, Tekniska Verken and Hjalmar Lundbomsskolan students to build the Snow Maze in less than a week. The maze has walls that are three meters high and built with hard packed snow and ice from the Torne River. The playground was built in January and is open for free to visitors until the structures melt in the sun sometime in April.
Ice Architecture – Snowmaze Sweden by PINPIN | Gallery
Ice Hotels – Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel Finland
Located in Alta, Norway, the Igloo Hotel first opened in the year 2000 and every year the hotel changes its theme and construction. The interior and exterior of this ice hotel is made purely of frozen water. The hotel has about 30 rooms, suites, and an ice gallery and ice chapel. Guests at the hotel stay in ice rooms that contain the beds. Facilities like toilets, showers, sauna and changing rooms are located in an adjacent warm service building. Aside from the ice architecture, one of the appeals of the Igloo Hotel is its location, which is a good location for viewing the northern lights.
Ice Hotel – Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel Finland | Gallery
Snow Hotel – Kakslauttanen Igloo Hotel
The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland offers a variety of accommodations, including snow igloos. Guests who book a snow igloo during their stay get to sleep inside a shelter of ice. The temperature is kept at a consistent level regardless of the temperature outside and the guests are provided with down sleeping bags to keep them warm when they turn in for the night. If you’re noticing a trend, it is one of many ice hotels based in the Nordic countries, a sign of ingenuity from countries that celebrate the cold.
Snow Hotel – Kakslauttanen Igloo Hotel | Gallery
Icehotel Sweden – 2015 Edition
The IceHotel in Sweden covers an area measuring 5,500 square meters and is the largest hotel made of ice. The hotel, which first opened in 1989, features rooms that are redesigned each year by selected artists and architects. That means the number of rooms can vary every year and the rooms always look different each year – making the IceHotel both a hotel and an art exhibition. The hotel is made almost entirely of ice and snow, and, as with the other ice hotels, is open only for a season. In the trends of ice hotels, no hotel is more anticipated or adored than the official IceHotel.
Icehotel Sweden 2015 | Gallery
Transylvania Ice Hotels – Romania
The Ice Hotel in Transylvania is located in the Fagaras Mountains and is made from blocks of ice taken from the Balea Lake. The blocks of ice are carved by hand by the local craftsmen and turned into detailed structures that make up the Ice Hotel and the Ice Church. Like the other ice hotels mentioned in this list, the Transylvania Ice Hotel is rebuilt and redesigned every winter and is open to receive guests for only a few months.
Transylvania Ice Hotel – Romania | Gallery
These ice hotels, frozen accommodations, and snow installations not only show how ice and snow can be used to create beautiful things but also show the creativity of the people who live in countries with incredibly cold weather.