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Join the chef’s table at ICEHOTEL

TEXT: MALIN NORMAN | PHOTO © ASAF KLIGER

As of last year, the world-famous ICEHOTEL is now open 365 days per year, so that guests can come and stay the night in hand-sculpted ice suites no matter the season. The recently launched Chef’s Table on the Veranda, an exclusive culinary experience, is in itself yet another reason to visit.

The spectacular ICEHOTEL welcomes around 50,000 visitors from 80 countries every year. It is included in TIME magazine’s 2018 World’s Greatest Places and is also at the very top of the list of tourist attractions on many Swedes’ bucket list of places to visit.

The idea for the world-famous hotel and art exhibition made of ice and snow came about in 1989. The creation is reborn in a new guise every winter, in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi, located 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. On 14 December this year, the seasonal part of the hotel opens for the 29th year.

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ICEHOTEL is all about ice and creativity – with art as the result. Artists are invited to send proposals for designs, and each year, a jury selects 30 proposals to bring to life, half for the winter hotel and the rest for the 365 suites. “The jury looks at the concept. It needs to be something original, something not seen before,” says Beatrice Lind, PR manager at ICEHOTEL. “We are striving to push the boundaries of what is considered ice art, and we love a challenge in terms of how a design can be realised technically.” ICEHOTEL also hosts one of Sweden’s largest private art exhibitions, which is open to the public.

Sustainable 365 structure

Last year, the new ice experience ICEHOTEL 365 premiered. It is a permanent structure, open 365 days per year, with an ice bar, a gallery, and 20 hand-sculpted suites of ice and snow, of which nine are deluxe suites featuring a warm relax area.

During the summer months, the building is cooled by solar panels – a sustainable way of keeping ICEHOTEL open all year, thanks to the rays of the sun. “We want to live in harmony with nature,” says Lind. “Thanks to solar energy, we can now cool the new building all year round. It’s great to be able to work with the seasons and, actually, the opportunities to see the northern lights, the big attraction here, are just as good, if not better in the autumn before the snow arrives.”

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LEFT: HEAD CHEF ALEXANDER MEIER

Chef’s Table on the Veranda

The ICEHOTEL Restaurant is run by Michelin-trained head chef Alexander Meier, who mixes his own background and knowledge with local traditions and produce. Together with sommelier Sofie Nordefors, he presents a new meeting place. With Chef’s Table on the Veranda, guests are invited to a different kind of food event. They sit at the large, communal wooden table, which is shaped like a horse shoe and has room for 16 guests. Two chefs cook and serve an exclusive menu of eight to 12 courses with accompanying beverages, and while guests enjoy the food, the chefs talk about the produce and method of cooking.

“Our guests love sitting at the table where everyone can see each other as well as the chefs, who are cooking the food on the other side of the table. The food perspective is exciting of course, but also this type of social interaction,” Lind explains. “In fact, Jukkasjärvi is Sami for ‘meeting place by the water’. At ICEHOTEL, it now also means meeting around food.”

Another culinary adventure may be to go on a wilderness dinner or join a day tour with Sami women, where guests can pick herbs and plants not found elsewhere, and later bring them back to the chefs, who will prepare a meal with these ingredients.

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