I just spent time in Kiruna, Sweden–home of the legendary ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar. It was an amazing experience that I recommend to everyone. A large portion of the hotel facility is completely made of ice. Although there are normal hotel rooms at this location for the faint of heart, the truly brave live big and stay in the amazing “ice accommodations.” This portion of the hotel is a completely different set of buildings and has about 90 rooms along with a truly unique Ice Bar (seen here to the right). The ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar are both completely made of ice (including the tables, chairs and, yes, even the drinking glasses).
The beds at the ICEHOTEL are made of ice with a small foam mattress and reindeer hides covering them (see below). They are actually fairly comfortable and, with the high-quality sleeping bags, the room is fairly warm despite the fact that it is minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) inside the hotel and 22 Celsius (minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit) outside.
I had the opportunity to meet one of the co-founders of the Hotel and Bar, Kerstin Nilsson. Kerstin and husband Yngve Bergvist started the hotel in 1990 when they did a small exhibition of art in a custom-made igloo on the frozen Torne River, which is adjacent to the hotel. It turns out that one night a group of foreign guests, equipped with reindeer hides and sleeping bags, thought it would be a good idea to use the cylindrical-shaped igloo as accommodations. The next morning the group raved about the unique experience of sleeping in an igloo, and the ICEHOTEL was born.
The hotel and bar have since become famous for their unique concept and famous works of ice art. Even the chandeliers are made of ice, as seen in the last photo below. The entire hotel, bar and art all melt away each spring and are re-created with a new design each November.
The conversation I had with Kerstin was interesting. They have partnered with Absolut Vodka and have now franchised the idea of the Ice Bar with locations in Stockholm, London, Tokyo and Copenhagen, in addition to the original. They are planning on many more locations but have not released them as of yet. I told her that if they open one in Los Angeles, I am soooo there!
The ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar are a classic case of how creative entrepreneurship works. A small hotel in a VERY far-away portion of a country comes up with a little idea (an exhibition hall made of ice) to help build its business. This idea (with a lot of hard work) turns into a hotel and bar. The bar spins off into a worldwide franchise co-developed by a major Vodka company–and a small business becomes an international one. I love the creativity of entrepreneurship.