Jukkasjärvi (Sweden) (AFP)
Tucked away in frigid latitudes on the edge of snow-capped Swedish forests, tourists crowd this winter morning in the corridors of an ephemeral hotel, entirely made of ice and with multiple domes, arcades and vaulted rooms.
Some have just spent the night there on an icy bed, curled up in a sleeping bag by -5 degrees. Others will choose to say + Yes + in the chapel of this gigantic igloo with altar and baptismal font of ice.
To raise this mastodon on the banks of the Torne river, the workers and other little hands are busy every year from October to work the ice, for an opening scheduled two months later, in December.
The night costs from 3,000 crowns (283 euros) in a single room - three times more expensive than in Stockholm - to 11,000 crowns for the most luxurious suite.
One of them, inspired by the lights of the northern lights visible in the region, contains a snow sculpture representing a reindeer head, lit according to the play of light, all on a musical background tinged with slabs, the characteristic cry reindeer.
Some 20,000 people - 50,000 visitors - sleep each year in this unclassifiable hotel, a true haven of peace according to Julia Hansers, one of the guides.
"Many people who come here live in town, there are always noises around them, but inside the ice hotel, it is completely silent," she explains, hat screwed on the head.
Bo Bjerggaard, gallery owner based in Copenhagen, spent the night bundled up in a sleeping bag, lying on a reindeer skin.
"During the night, I had to get up and it was obviously cold (...), but (the feeling) is great when you come back in the sleeping bag - you sleep so well", he says already nostalgic for his extraordinary night spent in the igloo.
Like a classic luxury hotel, the Lapland establishment has a bar where cocktails are served in glasses made of ice.
Since 2016, it has used solar panels to generate electricity and keep the temperature of a neighboring building below zero degrees, and thus keep 20 frosted rooms all year round.
As for the hotel that these February tourists visited, it must disappear in the spring, swept away by the thaw ... before being reborn from its ashes next season.
© 2020 AFP