This winter, the 25th incarnation of the awesome ICEHOTEL will be built in the far north of Sweden, offering guests an unforgettable welcome, 200km north of the Arctic Circle. Inspired by this super-cool structure, here’s a selection of ice-themed holidays…
A sub-zero sleep at the ICEHOTEL – Sweden from £898 pp with Sunvil Discovery
Each year for the past quarter of a century, artists and craftsmen have whittled, chiselled and sculpted crystal-clear ice – harvested from the neighbouring river – to create the fantastic ICEHOTEL, which opens its impressive doors in winter and melts each spring. Events and live performances will take place throughout the season to celebrate this momentous anniversary. A three-night stay – including one night in the hotel’sice-only ‘Snow Room’ costs from £898 pp (two sharing) including B&B, flights (Heathrow) and transfers. Call AITO member Sunvil Discovery on 020 8758 4722 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
Done the ice bucket challenge? Now try ice-swimming – Stockholm from £105 pp with Berns Hotel
Fancy plunging into a frozen lake this winter? Head to Hellasgården in Stockholm to enjoy a number of winter activities, including this chilly tradition. Try ice-skating and cross-county skiing in the forest, before warming up in an outdoor hot tub. The bravest can jump into the zero degree lake through a hole cut into theice – said to be a rather refreshing experience. Defrost in your own sauna back at the opulent Berns Hotel, before heading to its award-winning. Two nights’ B&B cost from 1,200 SEK pp/approx. £105 pp (two sharing). Rooms with private sauna from 2,400 SEK pp/approx. £208. Flights, activities and other meals extra. Call Berns Hotel on +468 566 322 00 (www.berns.se/en).
Snow on the Alps – Switzerland by rail for £1,660 pp with Ffestiniog Travel
Experience majestic winter scenery from the comfort of your carriage on a ten-day Swiss trip that’s just the ticket for rail enthusiasts. Enjoy a full-day excursion from Chur to Tirano on the Bernina Express, a journey on the world-famous Glacier Express and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rhaetian Railways network, as well as independent exploration using your included first-class Swiss Pass. Departing 17 February, Snow on the Alps costs £1,660 pp (two sharing) including standard-class rail travel to/from Switzerland, Swiss Pass, transfers, B&B and the services of a tour leader throughout. Call AITO* member Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 772030 (www.ffestiniogtravel.com).
An action-packed Northern Lights adventure – Sweden from £1,945 pp with The Aurora Zone
Enjoy a spectacular ‘dinner on ice’ in Northern Lights hotspot, Luleå. Sit outside by a campfire – on top of the sea ice that forms the floor – and sip a warming vodka before hot soup cooked with forest-picked mushrooms. Departing between 5 January and 30 March 2015, this Northern Lights holiday costs from £1,945 pp (two sharing) including flights from Gatwick to Luleå (via Stockholm), transfers, four nights’ cabin accommodation at the Brandon Lodge, husky safari, snowshoeing, a hovercraft tour over the frozen archipelago and a Northern Lights hunt via a snowmobile-pulled sled. Call The Aurora Zone on 01670 785 012 (www.theaurorazone.com).
Sociable ski break for single snow fans – Italy’s Val di Soie for £669 pp with Solos Holidays
Ski or snowboard alongside fellow single winter sports enthusiasts during a week in Italy’s scenic Brenta Dolomites. Staying at the family-run Hotel Dolomiti in the cosy village of Dimaro, a quick hop on the free public ski bus (stops opposite the hotel) gives convenient access to the abundant green, blue and red runs of Folgarida and Marilleva as well as onward links to the impressive slopes of Madonna di Camiglio. Departing 10, 24 & 31 January, the price of £669 pp includes BA flights (Gatwick), transfers, half board in a single room and the services of an accompanying Solos Tour Leader. Call Solos Holidays on 0844 371 8860 (www.solosholidays.co.uk).
Tuck yourself away in the Tirol – Austria from £645 pp with Voyages Jules Verne
Enjoy traditional Tirolean hospitality and stunning mountain scenery at the friendly, family-run Landhotel Stern in the pretty Austrian village of Obsteig. The snow’s at its most profuse in January, when horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowshoeing and guided winter walks are a particular delight, whilst candlelit dinners make the evenings lots of fun, too. Winter in Tirol costs from £645 pp in January – with no single supplement (subject to availability) – including BA flights (Gatwick), transfers, seven nights’ half board, activities and the services of guides/local representatives. 19 December departure is £795 pp (two sharing). Call Voyages Jules Verne on 0845 166 7035 (www.vjv.com).
The Ice Climbing World Cup in Champagny en Vanoise – La Plagne from £122 pp
From 5-7 February 2015 – and for the third time – La Plagne’s 22-metre ice tower will host around 100 climbers from 20 nations in the ‘speed’ and ‘difficulty’ categories of the Ice-Climbing World Cup. Covering the steel tower with ice suitable for climbing requires expertise and takes about a week. From the top, experts shoot snow from cannon nozzles and it freezes thick layer upon layer, forming 45° overhangs – the only icetower in the world to do so. A week’s stay during the Ice Climbing World Cup costs from approximately £122 pp (two sharing) for seven nights’ self-catering. Flights with EasyJet cost from £63 pp. Call La Plagne on +33 (0)4 79 09 79 79 (www.la-plagne.com).