With the first flurries of snow come all manner of winter adventures. This season, we're going beyond skiing and snowshoeing to check-in for the night at an ice hotel. These magnificent structures are created entirely from ice and packed snow, and feature truly outstanding meltable art, in the form of snow sculptures and ice carvings. They may be chilly, but what these hotels lack in warmth, they make up for in creative amenities like a gondola that doubles as a sauna, ice-molded cocktail glasses and dinnerware, and reindeer-fueled sled rides. Here's where to check-in for an unforgettable experience.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Kakslauttanen Igloo Village
HOTEL KAKSLAUTTANEN IGLOO VILLAGE
Where: Saariselka, Finland
Visitors to Igloo Village Kakslauttanen can choose between a glass or a snow igloo. Snow igloos offer a peaceful, silent escape cocooned from the outside world, while the glass igloos, with an amazing frost-resistant thermal glass, provide amazing views of the northern lights and starry sky. Guests can stroll through the impressive ice sculpture gallery and try their hand at this chilly craft, or request a unique, personal sculpture to decorate their igloo. Kids will enjoy a visit to Santa's Resort where they can visit Santa's house, sip hot drinks and munch on ginger biscuits by elves, and make friends with the local reindeer. For a truly Nordic experience, book a own reindeer-drawn sled ride.
When to Go: late December until end of April
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Finland Guide
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Snow Village Canada
Where: Montreal, Canada
Montreal's premiere snow bunny retreat, Snow Village, has something to entice every adventurer. Guests can stay in a polar igloo or one of the standard ice suites, and enjoy the ice spa under the stars with "welcome" ice-cocktails in hand. Kids will love this snowy escape of endless snowball fights, where they can also slip down the glittering ice slide. Adults will enjoy the plethora of events put on by the village including DJ nights at the Ice Bar and weekly fireworks. Real ice-aficionadoes should dine at the village's ice restaurant where they'll be seated in ice chairs at smooth ice tables. Those who've had enough ice can enjoy movies and comedy nights in the heated "Ice-Breaker" dome.
When to Go: January 17, 2014 to March 23, 2014
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Montreal Guide
Photo Credit: Chris Burton
HOTEL OF ICE
Where: Balea Lac, Romania
Nestled in a mountain valley built on top of a frozen glacial lake, the Hotel of Ice is perhaps the ultimate snow escape. Guests can choose to stay in one of the hotel's sub-zero rooms or claim their own private igloo near the hotel. After warming your hands by a flickering fire after an icy sleep, visitors can dine at the Chalet Balea Lac's restaurant, serving traditional Transylvanian and Romanian dishes. The Hotel's Winter Park offers the usual wintry activities like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating, but it also arranges snowball fights, snowman-building competitions, and ice bowling.
When to Go: opens December 25, 2013