At the Kirkenes Snow Hotel Everything’s Built from Ice:
If you are travelling to Norway and would like a hotel that’s really cool, literally, and which also promises to be the ultimate in Arctic experience – then take a look at the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes, Norway’s most north-eastern town and closest to the Russian border.
When doing hotel research, we usually check for location, what the rooms are like, its amenities and whether the hotel offers internet connection. However, if you’re planning on a night in a snow hotel, these priorities will be very different!
Yes, the Kirkenes Snow Hotel is built entirely out of snow each year and its 20 rooms are individually decorated with furniture, sculptures and wall paintings all made out of ice carvings. There’s a snow bar where you can enjoy a shot or two. Even the vodka glasses are made out of ice.
According to our hotel guide, an ice-sculpting competition is run each year and the winning entrants get to come to Kirkenes to replicate their work in the hotel.
We arrived in Kirkenes with the Hurtigruten cruise and the trip to the Snow Hotel was one of their optional excursions. The Snow Hotel was really cool … literally! The temperature inside was between -4C degrees and -6C degrees.
We were told that high quality sleeping bags, sheets, woollen socks and night hats are provided to guests for a comfortable night’s sleep. I was not convinced that a single sleeping bag would keep me warm on a bed of ice, however the question that was on everyone’s mind was, what if nature called at night, since there was no toilets in the rooms!
We were assured that there were heated toilets (electric and bio toilets), but you needed to walk approximately 50 metres to get there. So, the advice to guests was to use the toilet before going to bed and to go easy on the night caps as well.
Your room rate for the night includes dinner and breakfast which are served in Gabba restaurant nearby. The restaurant is nicely heated so you don’t have to worry about being cold there.
In the restaurant building there is a room with a few normal beds in it for guests who can’t get comfortable in the snow suite.
What’s Around the Hotel
The Kirkenes Snow Hotel is situated in the Gabba Reindeer Park and you’ll be able to get close and admire these animals in their snow-covered paddock. They look every bit as pretty as the pictures in Christmas cards. This is also Sami country and you’ll get to meet some Samis and learn about their culture.
Next to the reindeer park is the Gabba Kennel where some 70 huskies are kept. The puppies are especially cute but I’m not sure that they like being locked up in the enclosure.
This is how the Snow Hotel works
The Kirkenes Snow Hotel operates in conjunction with the Rica Kirkenes Hotel which is situated about 1 km away.
Your starting point is from the Rica Kirkenes Hotel where you’ll be met by your guide at 6 p.m. on kick sleighs. Your main luggage is stored away and all that you’ll take with you to the Snow suite is an overnight bag with your valuables. Snow Hotel guests are able to use the sauna and shower facilities in the Rica Kirkenes Hotel and there are towels in the changing room for the use of guests. The sauna is usually kept in readiness for the Snow Hotel guests to use from about 9 am the next morning so that you can defrost, if necessary.
It all sounds like an experience of a lifetime, but the price tag is not cheap. The rate is about NOK 2,100 per person, plus single supplement if you’re travelling alone.