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To give you an sense of how remote the North Cape is, if you were to head north from the Kirkenes Snowhotel, you’d bump into the isolated archipelago of Svalbard, then it’s next stop North Pole.
As you can imagine it's a little parky in winter in this neck of the tundra, so what better way to build a hotel than from ice? That's what those clever folks at the Kirkenes Snowhotel have been doing every year since 2006, with a different incarnation appearing in time for the December 20th opening, with the final guests departing around the 20th April the following spring.
The large ice rooms all have individual ice sculpture decoration and comfortable beds surrounded by ice blocks and topped with reindeer skins and thermal sleeping bags designed to withstand temperatures of -35 degrees Celsius. Not that it ever gets that cold - as any expert igloo builder knows the interior temperature of an inhabited ice building should remain at a steady and positively balmy -4 degrees.
Guests still nervous about the cold should note the bathrooms are in an adjoining (and warm) building, and they can also indulge in a couple of winter warming vodkas served in ice 'glasses' for alcoholic insulation. For the truly cold-phobic (or sensible, depending on your point of view) Kirkenes Snowhotel now has a range of new cabins, designed like traditional Sami fishing huts called gamme but with underfloor heating, not a mod con usually found in the original versions.
For a different experience altogether, stay at the hotel's Namdalen Wilderness Lodge, a converted farm where the former hen house is now a restaurant, the barn a couple of bedrooms and a living room and an outbuilding the obligatory sauna.
Back at the hotel proper, Bingen, the main restaurant, is located on the first floor of what was once a sheep barn. The Hoyloftet (yup, you guessed it - the old hayloft) is a larger space for special occasions and housing the Nikel Lounge complete with sheepskin rug covered seating. Finally, Gabba Restaurant is a traditional style lavvu building where diners eat around an open fire as the Sami have done for centuries.
Activities on offer from the hotel include dog-sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and the iconic king crab fishing.
The beautiful ice designs in the bedrooms are created by artists from the famous ice-sculpting city of Harbin in China.
Harriet, Original Traveller