Having worked in the travel industry for more than 15 years, Best Served destination specialist Christopher Kyprianou certainly knows his stuff – and when he went to the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta, Norway, he brought with him plenty of questions from clients that he wanted to answer.
'Plenty of people are excited about visiting ice hotels,' says Chris, 'but also somewhat nervous, not knowing what to expect. It's a very different sort of holiday experience!' So we asked him what his top pieces of advice would be for travellers looking to enjoy a wintry holiday at one of these unusual accommodations, and here's what he said.
1. Take an eye mask
'They want you to enjoy the sculptures throughout the room – which are admittedly truly impressive – and also stop you from knocking yourself on the furniture, so there's great uplighting,' says Chris. But because the ice and snow reflect light, even dimming the lights can leave a fair glow throughout your room, so you'll want to pack an eye mask to make sure you can sleep comfortably.
2. Bring plenty of light layers
The hotel will provide you with a sleeping bag, but the rooms are still going to be quite chilly. Multiple thin layers of thermals will help, as it's the air pockets held close to your body that keep you warm, rather than the thickness of the material. And since your head will be out of the sleeping bag, you may want a hat or face covering as well.
3. Use the ice hotel toilet before bed
If you are in an ice or snow room, most ice hotels will not have an ensuite toilet – you will have to go into the main building for toilets and showers, and once you are all tucked up cosy in bed, you won't want to get up again! Sometimes this may also mean walking outdoors in the snow.
4. Beware curious visitors
The ice hotels are all such exciting destinations that some will allow visitors (similar to cruise ships) to pop in to see the rooms – making it a good idea to start your day on the early side. Often, your room door is just a curtain, so curious visitors may want to peek inside!
5. But when the visitors go, the bar is all yours
The Ice Bar is fabulous at Sorrisniva, and the day visitors all agree... making it all the better at the end of the day, when it's just the guests. Then you can really appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry that have gone into making such a striking space – and of course the artistry going on behind the bar, as well.
6. Give the excursions a try
Chris's favourite excursion was the reindeer sledding and Northern Lights trip, an evening outing with a local Sami guide. You'll head into the wilderness, stopping at various locations to view the aurora overhead, and end up at a traditional lavvu tent for coffee, cake and traditional music.
There are also excursions to try snowmobiling, driving through the forest and onto a plateau for some truly impressive daytime views. Or, try snowshoeing over a frozen lake – going without a guide can be a bit nerve-wracking, but Chris recommends it. The path is clear and it gives you time to soak up the snowy environment all on your own.
Like what you just read? Explore more ice hotel holidays with Best Served.