Perched at the top of the world amidst snow and darkness, the Igloo Hotel inverts a conventional dread of winter in favor of harnessing the season's best elements for the enjoyment of its visitors.
Situated 20 kilometers outside the nearest town of Alta, alongside a river of the same name, the Igloo Hotel at Sorrisniva holds the title of “world’s northernmost ice hotel.” Constructed in a t-shape, the hotel consists of 30 rooms, a restaurant, and an ice bar. Everything about the place, from its walls to the interior — even down to its bed frames and the glasses in its bar — are constructed from pure, frozen Scandinavian water.
In addition to the more de rigueur hotel features, Sorrisniva's slick incarnation is adorned with ice sculptures at every turn. There's even an ice chapel where it's possible to kneel in prostration to the wintery gods without whom this ephemeral world would be impossible.
Lest visitors think staying at such a preternaturally frigid hotel would cause them to literally freeze to death, rest assured traditional modes of warmth are provided. Reindeer hides cover the mattresses laid over frozen furniture, and sleeping bags add an extra (albeit more modern) element of toasty comfort. Though it’s advised to sleep in wool long underwear, history is also on one’s side, given the proliferation of cultures who continue to live in ice shelters all winter long – only, perhaps, less luxuriously so.
If that's still not enough to persuade the faint of heart that overnighting in such an environment is a good idea, take solace in the fact that no proper Scandinavian experience would be complete without a wintertime sauna. As you roast inside its steamy confines, try not to be too sad that the Igloo Hotel did not figure out a way to make theirs out of ice.
Know Before You Go
20 km from Alta city center. Hotel shuttle pickup can be arranged in advance.