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The Ice Hotel ? Is an Ice Hotel the Ultimate in Cool Destinations?

The demand for a stay in an ice hotel has never been greater. The first hotel made of ice opened in Jukkasjarvi, a Lapland town in the north of Sweden, in1990. The Ice Hotel concept has gripped the world's imagination since then.

Sweden remains the world's main venue for buildings made of ice. By exploring Sweden you might expect to find ice galleries, ice restaurants and ice bars as well as the ice hotels. But Sweden is not alone - the other Scandinavian countries have launched their own versions of the Ice Hotel concept. Even Alaska and upstate Quebec in Canada have built an ice hotel in the last few years.

The real adventure of an ice hotel is in staying overnight but many visitors simply arrive for the day to dine in the restaurant or to drink in an Ice Bar. There is nothing quite so warming as a shot of pure vodka served from a glass made entirely of ice.

If your hands are not too numb at the time then you can "tie the knot" in the coolest manner imaginable. Ice hotel weddings have become so popular that the Scandinavian ice hotels can't keep up with the demand. The original ice hotel in Sweden is only in existence for around four months each year before it (quite literally) melts away to nothing but it's remarkably busy during its short season. Fifteen thousand guests stayed last year and this year's Ice Hotel has eighty-eight bedrooms - thirty of them specially decorated suites created by local ice artists.

All of the ice hotels offer daytime activities and excursions such as ice-carving classes, snowmobile excursions, reindeer rides and dog sledging. The original Ice Hotel in Sweden also has a four hundred-seat theatre where guests can enjoy rock music, opera and other theatrical performances in the evenings. You can purchase Ice Hotel souvenirs and merchandise in the Ice Hotel shop and the concept has spread beyond Sweden. The original Ice Hotel company now run two permanent Ice Bars where the cool citizens of Milan and Stockholm can gather for an evening of "chilling."

If you're planning a visit to an Ice Hotel then follow these top tips on how to sleep well when the temperature in your bedroom never rises above minus five degrees.

Try to take part in an evening activity so that you're already tired when you go to bed.

Avoid the obvious temptation and don't drink too much - getting up to the toilet in the middle of the night is not much fun when it's minus five degrees in your bedroom!

Do make sure that your sleeping bag fits you snugly and wear socks, thermal underwear and a woolly hat in bed. Sexy it ain't! But definitely essential to a comfortable night.

Whatever happens you're sure to have a unique experience and are not likely to quickly forget the night you spent in an Ice Hotel.

Gary Hill is a travel writer based near Edinburgh in Scotland. He thinks his own bedroom is more than cold enough at times but the Ice Hotel concept seems to attract many thousands each year!

You can read more about the Ice Hotel and how to book a stay on Gary's website. The website also contains great tips and ideas for planning all manner of European Vacation breaks. Let Europe fuel your vacation dreams - check it out today.

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