I wake up suddenly. My nose is hurting. I mean it’s really fucking hurting. Oh God, have I got frostbite? I try and save it by rolling up even tighter in my sleeping bag. Shit, and now I need the toilet. It’s minus twenty-five outside. I shroud myself in the sleeping bag, put on my boots and make my way out into the night. The cold is fierce. I won’t last long out here, so I leg it over to the bathroom, have a pee and then make my way back to my hotel suite. You heard me, hotel suite.
I’m staying at The Ice Hotel in Sweden, a veritable winter wonderland. Narnia really. I’ve brought a mate along for the ride and we love it. Under the faint glow of the aurora, we head out into the night, snow mobiling across the lake and into the woods. We stop off at a cosy cabin for dinner. Steaming bowls of stew are served with crusty bread and hot drinks to warm us up. We head back to the The Ice Bar for a nightcap and then get ready to stay in the Spruce Woods Art Suite. It’s a cool minus eight in the room and you need to be well prepared, thermals, socks, hat and a military grade sleeping bag that can keep you smiling even at a bone chilling minus thirty.
Wreathed in smiles, we take a few smug selfies before collapsing onto the ice block bed for the night. As I lay flat on my back, the faint glow of light from the corridor illuminates the room in a soft purple glimmer and the ceiling sparkles like diamonds. It’s quite ethereal. I’m a shit sleeper at the best of times. Anxiety or FOMO keeps me awake. I like a cold dark room, a bit like a coffin. I have been known to shroud pesky alarm clocks with flannels and stuff towels under doors to keep out the dratted light. A bit odd I know, but when slumber is precious, you have to make it count. And here I am, trying to nod off in a suite that the White Witch would die for and I can’t quite settle in.
When I return from the bathroom, I creep back into bed, doing my best to be quiet, bearing in mind I’m wearing huge biker boots that are crunching loudly on the icy floor. I hear a faint whimper. I’ve woken Sleeping Beauty next to me. A quivering voice asks me if I’m cold, followed by a small head, shaking and looking genuinely concerned for its life. Sadly, I just roar with laughter. We are in a $500 a night suite and we’re both freezing. Disaster. Three hours in and we’re already broken, pining for our cosy beds back at the Hilton Gatwick Airport where we slept the night before.
After trying every position one can try to sleep on an ice bed, a sing-songy voice asks if I want a warm lingonberry juice. I lurch up to accept the precious elixir. It’s our wake up call. Finally it’s seven AM. We made it through the night without ending up like Jack Torrance, frozen in the maze of the Overlook Hotel. We clutch our steaming hot juices, and like two caterpillars cocooned in green, flop into the middle of the bed, laughing at the most magical experience that I never want to do again.
DISCLAIMER – I love the Ice Hotel. The setting is dreamy and despite being quite busy, staying a night in one of the ice rooms really is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s just fucking freeing and not for the faint hearted!